How Do You Repair a Brick Foundation?

brick basement

If your home has a genuine brick foundation, it’s probably an older home that’s seen a lot of life. 

Generally speaking, homes built after 1950 only have a brick facade.  This means that they have an external layer of red clay bricks, but the foundation core is made of concrete or cinder block.  You may need to go into your basement or crawl space to visually confirm that yes, your home only has bricks on the outside.  But if you do only have a brick facade?  This article isn’t relevant to your home’s repair options.  

If you’re on our site looking for repairs for a more typical concrete foundation -with or without brick exterior facade- please allow me to suggest our free Foundation Review Guide instead.  This is a resource we developed specifically for homeowners, to address all of the questions commonly asked by our customers. 

But if you have a true brick foundation, please keep reading.  Acculevel is a family-owned and operated company that specializes in foundation repair, waterproofing, and concrete leveling.  Since our beginning in 1996, we’ve repaired over 30,000 homes throughout our service area.  But like most foundation contractors, we have limited scope when it comes to all-brick construction.  We want to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information available, so you know what services and options are right for you. 

In this article, I’m going to clearly explain what types of repairs need a masonry expert and which ones should be done by a contractor like Acculevel. 

 

If a Brick Foundation Wall is Cracking, Leaning, or Bowing

When your foundation cracks, and wall(s) begin to lean inward or bow, you need to get these repaired promptly.  These are signs that hydrostatic pressure is damaging your foundation, and these problems only get worse.  

For this type of repair, you will need to contact a masonry contractor or bricklaying company.   A mason will be the best resource for restoring your foundation to its previous stable condition, as they can repair or replace the bricks as needed.  (Even home builders do not commonly build with bricks; they prefer to subcontract a masonry company for a chimney, or other specialty item.)

Bricks are softer and crumble more easily than cinder block or poured concrete, so they aren’t compatible with the standard concrete methods like carbon fiber straps or wall anchors.

 

If You Have a Sagging Floor and a Brick Foundation

Every home with a basement or crawl space has a wooden flooring structure built into it.  Only homes on a slab (poured concrete) foundation do not have this structure.

Since this structure is built in the same way across multiple foundation types, the repair methods are pretty consistent.  The most common variable you will encounter is the center or main beam; certain contractors like Acculevel prefer to install steel replacement beams instead of wooden ones.  

The most common causes of floor damage are insects and moisture.  You will often find that if you have one, you also have the other.  Moisture is the ideal variable to create rot, decay, and mold; it can also makes your flooring structure more appealing to insects.  Termites in particular like wood that has been softened, because it is easier for them to tunnel through.  As a foundation repair company, Acculevel does not treat termites.  But once you have had a professional service address the infestation, we can repair the damages they have done. 

Wet fiberglass insulation and a decaying floor joistThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a free estimate appointment.  Water in the crawl space has caused the joists and beams to mold and decay. 

There are a number of components involved, so it can be difficult to know which ones need repairing or replacing.  We have an in-depth look at each of these pieces and how we repair them in this article.  

 

If There is Water in Your Basement or Crawl Space

Like sagging floors, water intrusion into any basement or crawl space can be repaired by a qualified and experienced company like Acculevel.  This is due largely to the fact that water drainage type is determined by the type of floor you have, so the foundation type is not a factor.

brick basementBEFORE: This photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a free estimate appointment.  Water has been leaking into the basement whenever it rains.

We strongly recommend encapsulation for any home with a brick foundation, whether it’s a crawl space or basement.  This is because water can seep through bricks at any point in the wall.  Once inside, the water then runs down the wall and onto the floor.  This provides an excellent location for mold or mildew to develop.  

Encapsulation means attaching a white cap material to the walls of the basement, or walls and floor of the crawl space, with a liner.   Whenever water seeps through the brick, it is stopped by the impermeable barrier of the encapsulation, and funneled down to the drainage track. 

It is less critical to encapsulate concrete blocks because unlike brick (and poured concrete), blocks have a hollow core.  This means water that seeps through the outside of the block will drain down and then out through weep holes into the water drainage.  Generally, we recommend encapsulation for block foundations if the homeowner is planning to finish their basement or convert their crawl space into a storage room.

brick basement with encapsulationAFTER: This photo was taken by an Acculevel team member, after installing water drainage, a sump pump, and encapsulation.  

 

Do You Need Repairs Made to Your Home? 

If so, you should find a qualified and experienced contractor to work with you.  If you’re not sure how to find the right company, we suggest asking friends or neighbors if they’ve had similar issues repaired.  You can also contact the realtor who sold your home, your HOA, or a service like Angie’s List for recommendations.  The Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource for verifying the contractor is insured and accredited.  

We have a checklist of questions to ask a contractor that includes a free downloadable form; as you’d expect, this document covers the FAQs that our customers often ask.  But it also includes a number of questions that a homeowner may not think about that can highlight potential warning signs.  

If you live in our service area, please call Acculevel.  We’ll schedule a free appointment with one of our friendly and knowledgeable project managers, who will evaluate your home and recommend the best course of action for you and your family.  

 

 

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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