What Causes Bricks to Crack and Flake?

October 9, 2019

Brick is a popular material for building walls, thanks to its durability and its long-lasting aesthetic appeal. If properly maintained, brick should be able to last as long as the lifespan of the building itself. However, if poor construction practices went into its building, there could be defects that form along the wall, whether it be cracking, flaking, spalling or otherwise.

There are several different kinds of cracking that can occur in brick walls. The kind that is most likely to form largely depends on the age of the building and the type of construction (type of frame, cavity vs. mass masonry, etc.).

Here’s a quick overview of some of the causes of cracking bricks in Racine, WI.

Vertical cracks along inside corners

If you begin to notice vertical cracking in brick walls along inside corners, this is most likely a result of expansion occurring at adjoining walls, with the brick walls moving toward each other. When you see these types of cracks, you can generally assume that the expansion was not properly thought through during building design and construction.

Vertical cracks at outside corners or horizontal cracks at floor lines

This is a more visible kind of cracking. Vertical cracks along outside corners show structural movement that is occurring in the building. For older buildings, some steel columns at the corners were often encased in brick. If water gets inside the brick, it can rust the steel over time. The pressure during oxidation can build up to a point where it actually results in the masonry being pushed away from the building, at which point vertical cracking in the bricks can occur, as can horizontal cracks in the floor lines.

If you have a newer building, vertical cracking could also potentially indicate a lack of expansion joints. The two intersecting walls can expand and contract at differing rates, which causes the bricks to rotate and crack.

Cracking over window heads

There are some circumstances in which undersized lintel can result in deflection that causes the bricks to deflect at the center of a window opening. The most likely result will be a vertical crack that forms over the head of the window. It’s possible the cracks will be tapered, with the crack being wider at the lintel and thinner as the crack moves up and away from the window.

Cracking at the concrete foundation

Both concrete and brickwork expand and contract at different rates, which over time can result in some issues where the two come together. Cracks that occur in a concrete foundation could continue to form through the brick if the flashing or bond breaks are not installed between the concrete and brick. There’s also a possibility that cracks could occur right where the two meet.

For more information about how to handle cracking or flaked bricks in Racine, WI, we encourage you to contact the team at Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete today. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our services or schedule an appointment to come to your property for an inspection.

Categorised in:

Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete