Bricks are beautiful and durable, but like any building material, they can be subject to damage over time. If you’re worried about cracks in your brickwork, it’s important to understand the potential causes and repair options. Are brick cracks normal? Should you get your bricks inspected? We’ll answer those questions and more in this helpful guide.
Types of Brick Cracks
There are many types of brick cracks to watch out for, all with different causes. They include:
- Expansion cracks: These cracks form from the expansion and contraction that construction materials experience with temperature changes. They may form in a vertical line, in a stairstep pattern, or in a zigzag along the side of a building.
- Horizontal cracks: These cracks look like straight lines running horizontally along the bricks. They may be the result of moisture issues, heavy winds, weak foundation, or wall tie failure. Wall ties hold bricks onto a building. If they rust, cracks may form.
- Vertical cracks: Vertical cracks are usually a sign of foundation settlement, but they may not indicate that you need foundation repair. You’ll need a professional inspection to evaluate the true cause of the issue.
- Wide cracks: Wide cracks between bricks are usually a sign of widespread foundation shifting. Then should be evaluated and repaired right away.
- Randomized cracks: If cracks in your brickwork appear in random areas, the issue is most likely old mortar. The mortar can be safely removed and replaced with fresh mortar in a process known as tuckpointing.
In many cases, brick cracks are actually mortar cracks. That is because the mortar between bricks is much weaker than the bricks themselves. The bricks may expand and contract just fine, but the mortar loses its grip along the way. Rest assured that we will pinpoint the cause of brick damage during your inspection and recommend the best course for repair.
What Causes Brick to Crack?
Many factors can cause bricks to crack. Because bricks are porous, they expand and contract based on the humidity levels, precipitation, and temperature changes. In Michigan, bricks are particularly susceptible to freeze thaw damage because of our cold winters. Water gets trapped in the bricks, freezes, and then thaws, which essentially beats up the bricks from within. This may cause the bricks to crumble or crack, depending on the circumstances.
Brick cracks also come from foundation issues, improper installation, worn mortar that hasn’t been replaced, impact from debris, fire damage, water damage, and a myriad of other causes. So yes, brick cracks are normal, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. The best way to determine if your brick cracks need to be repaired is with a professional inspection from an experienced brick repair company like N&M Restoration.
How to Repair Brick Cracks
The type of brick repair you need will depend on the type of brick cracks you’re dealing with. If it’s just a matter of old mortar, we can remove the outer layer of the mortar and replace it with fresh mortar in a matching color. If some of the bricks need to be removed, we’ll find the highest-quality industry match to weave new bricks into the structure. No matter what, we will first pinpoint the cause of brick damage and make sure that gets resolved. There is no sense in repairing bricks if they’re going to get damaged again in the near future. Treat the cause, and you will save yourself a ton of hassle later on.
If you’re interested in brick repair or you’d like a brick crack inspection, contact N&M Restoration at (586) 350-5824. We offer brick repair services in Metro Detroit MI and surrounding areas.