If you have noticed damaged or cracked bricks around your home, you may be wondering how serious the problem is. Issues like cracked bricks can be minor, such as superficial damage, or they can be a symptom of a more serious problem. In this article, you will learn how to diagnose the severity of cracked bricks and what to do if you find yourself dealing with brick damage. For more information on masonry repairs and maintenance, contact the experts at Royal Masonry today!
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Cracked Bricks Often Occur Due To Harsh Weather
Bricks can become damaged due to a number of factors or accidents, such as an impact (e.g. a large vehicle hitting a brick wall), or forces of nature (e.g. a tornado).
However, most brick damage is simply due to the normal wear-and-tear of weather - rain, snow, frost, and damp temperatures can all cause brick damage over time.
In Ontario and other climates where there are temperature extremes, the freeze-thaw cycle is what typically causes brick damage. During the cold winter, liquid water on or around your bricks freezes instead of evaporating.
Since water expands during this freezing process, it will create pressure on and within your bricks, eventually causing damage. The first signs of damage you will notice is that your brick face (surface of bricks) is worn away.
If the surface damage is not repaired, water can make its way deeper into the brick wall and eventually cause more serious damage as the freeze-thaw cycle is repeated each year.
Three Main Types of Brick Damage
It is likely you have seen all three of these common types of brick damage, either on your own home or around your neighbourhood. Of course, the damage may not be as severe as the images above. Still, spalling brick, cracked bricks, and efflorescence are all common. See below to learn more about diagnosing each problem and what to do if your home is affected.
Definition: Spalling is when pieces of brick flake or fall off of the rest of the wall. Spalling can occur in very small amounts - tiny pieces of brick flaking off at a time - or, it can occur in large amounts - entire chunks of brick can flake off all at once.
Diagnosing The Problem: Spalling brick is relatively easy to identify just by looking at your wall. You will notice that the bricks are missing pieces from the brick face. The pieces often come out in flakes - thin, flat pieces of brick. Over time, this type of damage can look like cracks in the brick.
Spalling is caused by moisture entering the brick and due to the freeze-thaw cycle as mentioned above. It can also be caused by improper brick installation, or if a coating has been applied to your bricks that do not allow your bricks to "breathe" (source).
Fortunately, spalling brick often begins as just a superficial problem, and can be fixed relatively easily if you catch it quickly. You can usually tell the severity of spalling just by looking at your bricks. However, if you want a guarantee that the problem does not go deeper, you should contact the professionals to get a proper assessment.
How To Fix Spalling Brick: Leaving damaged and spalling bricks for too long can create further damage and problems, such as leaks or more serious cracks. It's important to repair right away.
Definition: Cracked bricks are pretty much exactly as they sound - cracks in your bricks. Cracks in your bricks can be very small and thin, almost unnoticeable, or they can be large and wide, like the crack in the image above.
Diagnosing The Problem: Cracked bricks can develop due to natural wear-and-tear, especially with older houses, weather damage, forces of nature, or through a heavy impact.
With cracked bricks, you can actually learn a lot from the pattern of the crack. For example, vertical cracks that are noticeable within inside corners are often caused by thermal expansion. This indicates that proper expansion provisions were not made during the building process of the home (source).
If you have noticed a crack in your wall, click here to read about what each crack pattern likely indicates to help you better diagnose your problem.
How To Fix Cracked Brick: If you notice a small crack in your brick, there are many DIY repair guides you can follow to seal the crack and prevent further damage. Click here to read more about DIY cracked brick repair.
When it comes to larger cracks, it's a good idea to have it looked at by the professionals. They can let you know if the damage goes beyond the surface, whether you have any foundation issues, and why the crack occurred in the first place.
Definition: Efflorescence is when white crystal-like formations occur on your bricks. It is caused by moisture seeping into your bricks. As the water passes through, salt is collected and then deposited on the exterior.
Diagnosing The Problem: Efflorescence is, fortunately, not usually as severe as seen in the image above. Often times, it simply looks like small patches of lightened or white brick. It can be caused by cracked bricks that have allowed moisture in, so look out for cracks both big and small.
Efflorescence is often the easiest problem to diagnose because it is unique and easily seen, even in its early stages. It can occur on either exterior or interior bricks.
When it occurs in newer homes, it is likely not a deep problem and can easily be scrubbed away. When you notice it in older homes, however, it is generally a clear indication of many years of moisture problems.
How To Fix Efflorescence: If you have a new home and notice a small amount of white on your bricks, you can usually just clean and scrub it away.
If you have an older home and notice thicker or more substantial efflorescence, you may want to contact a professional service to help you diagnose the problem. It could be an ongoing leak, problems with drainage around your house, or even a foundation issue.
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Our professional approach and superior customer service mean that you can relax in the knowledge that your project is in safe hands. Trust the experts at Royal Masonry with any masonry service you require. Contact us today and find out for yourself why our customers highly recommend us to their friends and family.