When to Worry About Cracks in Brick? What To Look For!
Brick walls are extremely durable, and it’s easy to think that they will last forever. However, cracks in the brick can be terrifying to a homeowner, and many people wonder if their house is about to come down. Fortunately, most types of cracks are not that serious. Here, we look at the most common brick cracks, what causes them, and when to be concerned.
Types Of Cracks & How Concerned You Should Be
Small Exterior Cracks
Small exterior cracks about 1/16 of an inch deep are quite common and are usually the result of exposure to extreme weather conditions. Any permanent structure is likely to experience harsh weather, so it’s not uncommon to see this type of crack on any brick surface more than a few years old. The damage is entirely cosmetic and does not compromise the strength of the structure. However, these small cracks can continue to grow over time, especially in cold areas with plenty of ice, and the problem can get more serious. The best thing to do is to fill or cover the cracks, so they don’t get worse.
Vertical cracks in the mortar joints can result from hot weather, causing the bricks to expand and contract. However, if you see these cracks on the inside of your home, it could signal that you have a problem with your foundation, so it might be time to call a professional.
Long Horizontal Exterior Cracks
If you notice long exterior cracks running along the outside of your home, it can indicate that ground movement or deterioration is causing a structural problem. You see this problem more frequently in old buildings, but regardless, it requires immediate attention from a professional.
Stair Step Cracks
Stair step cracks are usually quite noticeable because they move up along the mortar of an exterior wall. It is often a sign that your foundation is sinking. If you notice other symptoms, like cracked or bulging drywall or doors or windows that are starting to warp, it’s definitely time to call a professional to look over your home.
Brick Veneer Cracks
Brick veneer is more of a cosmetic surface, but cracks can still indicate a problem, and since brick veneer is much thinner than a standard brick wall, you can expect problems to worsen much faster, so it’s usually a good idea to call a professional to make repairs as soon as you notice something wrong.
Other Types of Cracks
If you notice any other cracks in your building, there is a good chance that it’s only a cosmetic issue, especially if it doesn’t look like it goes too deep into the surface. A professional experienced in masonry will be able to tell you how serious the problem is and provide you with tips to repair it.
How Can I Repair a Cracked Brick Wall?
Most of the problems with brick are because the brick’s mortar is breaking down, causing them to come loose. Many people mistake this deterioration for cracks, but a professional mason can usually repair this damage and make the brick as good as new if the problem is limited to one area. But if you notice other serious cracks, like long horizontal cracks or stairstep cracks, only a professional can make repairs. The only repairs that you can DIY are the small exterior cracks, to help prevent more damage from occurring. You can use cement or putty to cover cracks to prevent moisture from getting in, causing the brick to freeze and expand, making the cracks larger.
Several different types of cracks can occur in a brick wall. If the damage is minor, you may be able to cover it to help slow its progression. If it’s more serious, you may need to watch it carefully for signs that it is getting bigger, as it could make your home unsafe to live in. Always consult with a professional as soon as you notice any problems.
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