You’re looking at the outside of your beautiful brick home when you notice the veneer cracking. Understandably, you might start to worry about what this means for your home. The bricks on your wall are cracked, after all: isn’t that a sign of foundation problems?

The good news is that the brick veneer doesn’t normally have a lot to do with your home’s structure outside of being an attractive siding option. Exterior brick walls just happen to be a type of siding that shows cracks more than something like wood or vinyl. In general, you don’t need to worry about a link between foundation damage and your brick exterior: if there are interior cracks in your drywall opposite the brick cracks or other signs of your home’s structure shifting, you might have to call in an expert. Here are some things you should know about cracked bricks and your foundation.

Why Bricks Crack

Bricks are made of hard, dry clay—a material that doesn’t stretch or take impact very well despite decent compression strength. All houses settle a little, but brick might make those shifts a little more obvious because of how brittle the material is. Minor changes like this that are the result of foundation settlement are nothing to worry about. Bricks can also crack in very wet or dry conditions and areas of poorly-compacted soil, all of which can cause a structure’s foundation to be improperly supported and put stress on bricks. Freeze and thaw cycles in some climates can also lead to cracking over time.

Different Brick Cracks

If your chimney bricks are cracked, it’s likely a sign of a foundation problem. The chimney is one of the heaviest parts of the home, and if you see cracks or gaps where the chimney meets your home or notice it leaning or cracking, you’re going to want a foundation repair expert to take a look.
Different brick crack patterns and locations can mean different things for your home’s foundation—a crack that appears on an exterior wall is different from one that appears on a brick foundation wall, for example. This is especially true when cracked brick exteriors appear in combination with other common signs of foundation problems like sagging floors and sticking doors or windows. Here are some common types of cracks to watch for in your home.

  • Horizontal cracks can indicate foundation problems. They’re a sign that the soil underneath your home is pushing against the foundation and could lead to bowed walls. This can lead to bulging and eventually collapsed walls.
  • Vertical cracks can also indicate foundation problems. These cracks appear when your home settles as a result of shifting soil underneath it. They’re not as big of a concern as horizontal cracks, but can let water into your foundation.
  • Stair-step or diagonal cracks can indicate that your home is settling unevenly as a result of unstable soil.
  • Deterioration of the mortar means that there’s excessive moisture around your bricks.

Repair Options for Cracked Bricks

If you’re concerned about cracks in your brickwork or masonry, you can inspect them yourself for cracking, flaking, and other changes. Small, superficial problems with exterior bricks can be prevented by making sure that water can’t accumulate around your home: proper gutters and downspout extensions can do wonders for protecting against water damage. Proper water redirection can also protect your home’s foundation from harm.

Most serious cracks shouldn’t be done with crack filler or repointing: while these might repair superficial issues, underlying foundation problems will only get worse over time. This is especially true of cracks in chimney bricks, which can be the result of problems that require a foundation repair contractor to fix. Foundation damage that affects exterior bricks is generally repaired through steel helical piers, especially for chimneys that use resistance to lift a foundation back to its proper place. Foundation walls can be repaired with carbon fiber straps and epoxies, metal beams with adjustable steel posts, tiebacks, and wall anchors depending on the exact issues affecting a home. An experienced local foundation repair contractor in your area can help you confirm any potential foundation problems and find the perfect solution.

Acculevel Foundation Damage Repair

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your foundation. If you suspect that the cracks in your brick might be related to foundation problems, it’s worth getting the problem checked out to potentially avoid more expensive repairs later. Acculevel has been the trusted foundation expert for many homeowners. For a free home foundation inspection, basement reconditioning, waterproofing estimate, or questions about foundation repair, contact Acculevel.