Mortar Repair – 4 Common Crack Problems on Your Home
It’s a sunny morning and you’re up early. You decide to grab your coffee and take a quick stroll around your homes’ exterior to look for signs of wear. You find nothing and are pleased until you turn the last corner of your home and stop abruptly in disbelief!
There before you in the beautiful brick masonry of your home is a huge crack! How did it get there? What do you do? You wonder. Whom do you call?
Well take a deep breath and relax. You’re not alone. Millions of homeowners have experienced this gut wrenching feeling as well. So don’t grab the For Sale sign just yet! Read these handy tips to understand what may be happening to your home.
1.) Settlement Cracks – These common cracks usually manifest as a ‘stair step crack’ or a crack that steps up as it moves horizontally across the wall. Found at or close to the corners of the home, wing walls and quoin corners they are common and easily repaired. Just watch and expect additional movement if the settlement has not stopped.
Solution: Contact your local masonry crack repair pro to have these cracks repaired to keep water, bugs and reptiles from entering the home.
2.) Thermal Expansion Cracks – A vertical or stair step crack usually located in the upper portions of the masonry can be caused by thermal expansion. Bricks walls expand when heated by the sun and if expansion joints are not present, can cause cracks. These cracks appear anywhere within the surface of the sunny wall or in close proximity to abutting walls
Solution: Contact your local masonry repair pro and/or a structural engineer for an evaluation. Some cracks are simple for a repair pro to evaluate and others may require an engineers analysis and testing to determine the cause and recommend the type of repair needed.
3.) Steel Expansion Cracks – Another common crack occurs at the upper corners of doorways, garage doors, windows or any opening. The usual culprit is the steel that supports the masonry above these openings. This is due to the daily and seasonal differential movement between the steel and the brick materials which expand at different rates.
Solution: Contact your local masonry repair pro to have these cracks repaired or caulked. Caulking will move with the materials and help minimize future cracking.
4.) Bulging or Bowed Wall Cracks – Cracks can appear throughout an entire wall or the wall is bulged, bowed in or out or has sunken. This is a serious issue and is usually the symptom of age related failure or structural failure due to improper reinforcement of the masonry.
Solution: Contact a structural engineer immediately for an evaluation and recommended repairs.
It is a good idea to check your home annually for signs of cracking or structural damage in the bricks on your home.
Michael Olding is tradesman and consultant in the field of restorations and repairs and currently operates a restoration and repair business in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also a Master in the field of masonry construction, restorations and repairs.
In addition he is a writer and speaker as well as a marketing, training and business consultant for the contracting industry. If you interested in his services he may be contacted by visiting