As a homeowner, it’s essential to know the signs that your masonry needs structural repairs. All brickwork gets damaged over time and can have structural issues, but there are several signs you should keep an eye out for that indicate it’s time for a structural masonry repair.
Keep reading to learn the signs so you can nip any problems in the bud before it leads to more expensive masonry projects down the road.
Masonry Repair: Does My Home Need Structural Repairs?
Masonry, like any other material, gets damaged over time. The key to keeping your masonry structures, from brick to concrete block, in good shape is to regularly inspect them for signs of damage.
Common Signs Your Masonry Needs Repairs
Here are 6 common signs that you need masonry work done:
1. Vertical Cracks
If you catch a glimpse of vertical crack lines in the bricks on your home, it could be a sign that a masonry repair may soon be in your future.
Vertical cracks, unlike horizontal ones, can indicate something happening behind the wall or masonry installation, causing it to move and settle unnaturally. Vertical cracks can be caused by improper construction practices, such as incorrect mortar mix or insufficient stabilization. They can also be caused by environmental factors, such as ground settlement, earthquakes, or changing climate conditions.
While many vertical cracks may simply be due to normal settling that occurs with any home over time, cracks that are greater than 30 degrees off the vertical axis could be a sign of more serious structural integrity issues.
Even if the cracks are less than 30 degrees off the vertical axis, you should still get them fixed as soon as possible in order to protect the integrity of your home. Don’t wait until these vertical cracks take a turn for the worse and start causing structural damage; get them assessed and schedule a masonry repair with an experienced team immediately.
Different brick cracks can mean different things for your home.
2. Shelf Angle Spalling
A shelf angle is an L-shaped piece of metal that is often installed in brick structures. Also known as a lintel, it works by redistributing some of the weight of the bricks so that the full weight of the structure isn’t bearing down on a particular section. Normally you do not see the shelf angle since it is installed behind a row of bricks.
However, the shelf angle can deteriorate over time–for example, if the metal begins to rust. This can result in shelf angle spalling, which is when the bricks being supported by the shelf angle begin to crack or chip away due to the increase in weight from above.
If you notice the bricks on your home are beginning to deteriorate, or if you see the shelf angle exposed, this is probably due to shelf angle spalling. Unfortunately, shelf angle spalling cannot be ignored; it needs a masonry repair as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure your masonry lasts as long as possible.
3. Bowing or Bulges
Bowing or bulging bricks are when the bricks begin to bow in or bulge outward on the walls of a brick structure. These bulges or bowing occur due to pressure from within the walls, which can cause bricks and mortar to move outward. If the brickwork looks uneven or is leaning outwards, this could mean that it is structurally unsound and needs a masonry repair.
While there are multiple reasons why this may occur, it typically indicates some sort of internal damage to your home–usually water damage. Moisture damage behind your brickwork can quickly snowball into more serious issues, such as mold growth. It’s crucial to get your masonry assessed by a professional as soon as possible if you notice any bowing or bulging bricks in your home.
4. Efflorescence And Other Brick Staining
Efflorescence is a chalky, powdery white substance appearing on masonry surfaces. Efflorescence occurs when masonry has been saturated with water, which carries mineral salts from within bricks through the porous mortar joints and crystallizes upon contact with outside air. Efflorescence is typically seen on older brickwork, although it can affect new structures too.
Regular masonry restoration and periodic inspections are essential to prevent, fix, and address efflorescence. Not only is the discoloration an eyesore, but it can also indicate structural issues within the masonry materials since the root cause is water penetration.
If efflorescence is not properly removed soon after it appears, it can also transform into calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is more difficult to remove and will likely require special chemical treatments.
As such, if efflorescence appears on masonry surfaces, it may be necessary to have mason contractors perform masonry repair work. There are other white deposits that can happen on brick, too.
5. Brick Compaction
Brick compaction is when bricks begin to lose their shape due to pressure. When masonry has shifted or settled due to natural wear and tear or water damage, the bricks will become pressed against one another, creating an uneven surface that can sometimes be seen from both inside and outside the building.
This condition can also be a sign of further damage beneath the surface. With continued pressure, bricks can begin to drop out of place, creating gaps between them. Like bowing or bulging bricks, this can affect the overall integrity of a structure if it is not addressed promptly with a masonry repair project.
6. Mortar Deterioration
One of the most important signs that a masonry repair is needed is the general deterioration of mortar. Over time, mortar joints can become more porous and mottled, leading to cracks and crumbling masonry.
Deteriorating mortar allows water to seep into masonry, which leads to more severe damage over time. If left unchecked, these masonry issues can gradually cause larger structural problems throughout your home or building. The gradual disrepair of masonry not only looks unattractive but also leaves your structure vulnerable to water damage and other factors that weaken your masonry surfaces.
If you notice any of these 6 signs of damage on your home’s masonry, it’s important to take action right away. Have a professional masonry contractor assess the situation and make a masonry repair if needed.
By taking care of your masonry restoration now, you can avoid more serious problems down the road and keep your home in good condition for years to come.
All Masonry Gets Damaged Over Time
Even the highest quality materials wear down over time. Although brick homes have many upsides and are undeniably beautiful, they come with a host of potential problems. From vertical cracks to mortar deterioration, there are many things that can go wrong with brick structures.
While the 6 signs outlined above are clear indications that you need a masonry repair job, sometimes the damage to masonry may not be so obvious.
Don’t Put Off Your Masonry Repair Job
It is also good to keep in mind that masonry repairs tend to get more expensive the longer they go unaddressed. In other words, problems that may be fairly simple to fix when they first show up can turn into more costly structural repairs if they are ignored.
So taking care of your masonry restoration is not only an immediate but also a long-term investment that safeguards against further destruction and makes sure your home is structurally sound for the years ahead.
Have Repairs Done By Professional Masonry Contractors In Chicago
All in all, there’s no better piece of advice than getting masonry contractors involved from the start when you’re looking at masonry repair needs or potential issues. It could save you costly repairs down the road! By properly preventing and treating damage caused by age or external pressures, masonry can remain intact for much longer periods of time.
While ignoring your masonry problems is probably the worst thing you can do, hiring an unqualified masonry company or attempting the masonry repair yourself is a close second. At best, improperly done masonry restoration may not fix the underlying issue. At worse, they can actually exacerbate your masonry problems.
Ultimately, taking precautions such as regular maintenance checkups ensures that your masonry remains strong against any external pressures while keeping your brick structures safe and sound both now and in the future.
The Experts At Gromex Masonry Can Do Your Masonry Repair In Chicago
By being aware of the common signs that your masonry needs repairs, you can address problems early on before they become more serious—and expensive—to fix. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not a repair job is needed, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a professional masonry company.
If you live in the Chicago, IL, area and notice any of the common signs that your masonry needs repairs, don’t hesitate to reach out to the masonry services experts at Gromex Masonry. Gromex Masonry is one of the premier Chicago masonry contractors with over a decade of experience. We offer everything from tuckpointing services to chimney repair. We can help you assess the damage and determine the best course of action.
Fill out our contact form today, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.