Bricks are sturdy enough to build the biggest homes, but they are also porous. This means that factors like temperature and moisture can cause them to expand and contract over time and eventually crack. Damage can also occur when uneven pressure is applied on them by an outside force or the surrounding building materials don’t give the bricks sufficient room to expand.
While brick cracks aren’t necessarily a sign of house foundation damage, they always merit further investigation. At the very least, the small openings can expose your home to water damage and mold, so you’ll want to arrange an inspection from an experienced house foundation specialist as soon as possible.
What are the different types of brick cracks?
Brick walls are held together by the mortar applied between the bricks during construction. When that mortar degrades and breaks, you have a problem that tends to get bigger over time and can result in serious foundation problems.
- Horizontal cracks are signs that there has been foundation movement and erosion of materials that affect the walls. If you go into your crawl space or basement and see long horizontal cracks or zig-zag cracks on the interior foundation walls, contact a professional immediately.
- Vertical cracks are seen more frequently in warmer climates. In nearly all cases, they are caused by thermal expansion, which moves the material and causes cracking.
- Veneer cracks are zig-zags that go along the mortar line around the bricks. Because they only appear in the mortar, some homeowners assume that the fix will be a simple one, but the reality is that these cracks are often signs of major structural damage.
How do you know when cracked brickwork is a cosmetic issue or an indicator of extensive foundation damage? Red flags include:
- Doors and windows that won’t open or close normally
- A leaning chimney
- Sloping or buckled floors
- Cracking where the wall and ceiling meet
- Nails or screws popping out of the walls
- Noticeable changes in the direction, width, or length of a crack
What causes brick walls to crack?
Construction defects are a leading cause of crack formation in brick walls. Other known sources include:
- Soil subsidence: After construction, it’s normal for the ground to settle and cause the foundation to move slightly. The result is often small vertical cracks that don’t pose a threat to your home’s stability. Depending on the soil type, however, the movement can be more drastic, which will cause issues.
- Climate changes: Any changes in precipitation, temperature, and humidity levels can cause the soil surrounding your home’s foundation to expand and contract. Over time, cracks can appear in the brickwork.
- Water damage: Moisture issues due to flooding, clogged gutters, and leaking pipes can damage a brick wall. Even a garden sprinkler that constantly exposes the bricks to water can erode them over time.
- Trees: Some trees have rugged and widely-spread root structures that press against the foundation walls, causing them to crack and making foundation repair necessary. Trees can also rob moisture from the soil, which is also known to create foundation problems.
At Van Matre Construction, we recommend inspecting your brick home on a regular basis. If you notice any flaking, cracking or bulging, contact a repair expert who can diagnose the problem and recommend solutions that restore the home’s stability and give you peace of mind.
Contact a foundation repair specialist today
When brick cracks are an indicator of foundation damage, Van Matre Construction has different foundation repair options available to stabilize your home. They include:
- Push piers installed beneath your foundation to add support and prevent further problems from occurring. If cracks have occurred, we can fill them with epoxy resin or cement grout depending on the location of the cracking.
- Helical piers that provide a quick and convenient fix if your home was built on unstable soil. Also known as screw piles, they are screwed into the ground, where they transfer the load from your home to the underlying soil or rocky strata, resulting in structural remediation. Helical piers are especially effective for chimney repair.
- Carbon fiber wall supports that are glued to your basement walls and resist inward wall movement by absorbing any pressure. They have a smooth surface, making them easy to paint over if you update your basement’s look.
- Wall anchors that straighten and stabilize your walls while avoiding the cost of foundation replacement. After installation, they can be gradually tightened during dry weather conditions, allowing the foundation walls to be pulled back to their original position.
- Plastic or metal tree root barriers that prevent tree roots from applying damaging amounts of pressure to your foundation walls.
Should any brickwork require replacement, we will help you find the right brick sizes, textures, and colors to match the existing structure. Our goal is to restore your home to its original, pre-damaged condition, so that you can enjoy your living spaces once again.
Van Matre Construction, LLC has been providing homeowners in and around Denver, Boulder, and Lafayette with prompt, courteous, and professional foundation repair service since 2001. To schedule a free, no-obligation inspection, please call 303-668-2222 or contact us online.