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The Hidden Danger of Ignoring Damaged Bricks?

by Guest Post on Feb 17, 2017

It is a common misconception that the extent of unsightly brick damage is limited to aesthetics. While it is true, brick repairs and tuckpointing can tremendously increase the market value of a home and is generally much more attractive, the presence of brick damage can indicate far worse problems than the obvious eyesore.

There are two main types so of brick walls. Structural brick buildings do just what the name indicates; it supports the integrity of the building.  Conversely, brick veneer is mostly decorative insulation.  In brick veneer homes, it is a wooden frame that provides support. The older the building, the more likely it is to be a structural brick home.  Another way to tell is to check how many rows deep the brick extends.  A veneer should only have one layer of brick, while structural brick boasts at least a second row.

Structural Brick Damage

Damage to structural brick is alarming, as the brick is directly responsible for ensuring a building doesn’t collapse.  In extreme circumstances, ignoring the damage can level an entire building. If the damage to your structural brick building appears to be bowing, you could be in immediate danger of collapse. Fortunately, if addressed early on, repairs can often be made to the wall ties, re-securing them to one another and avoiding continued danger and additional expense.  Damage to structural brick can occur from frost, ground shifting, water damage, or building settling. Although you can guess a lot about the underlying concern just by looking at the type of damage done to the brick, it’s often best to call in professionals to confirm your suspicions and evaluate the extent of the work.

Brick Veneer Damage

Although not as dire as structural brick damage, brick veneer damage can indicate serious problems happening behind the façade. Brick is a porous substance that is known to absorb water.  So much so, that weep holes are typically created every four bricks or so on the lower side of the buildings to let water drain out and let the air from the outside in to dry up any moistures.  This is a great concept, but can sometimes be insufficient.  This is especially true of buildings in areas experiencing copious amounts of rain, or found near a waterfront. Insufficiently dried moisture can quickly turn into a mold nightmare. 

The most common type of damage to bricks, both structural and veneer, is erosion.  Over time, the elements start to eat away at the mortar and brick composition creating an eyesore. If dealt with quickly, a masonry restoration company can easily and cost-effectively repoint or tuckpoint the damage, thereby preventing any long term structural weakness or secondary damage.  If left exposed or gapped, the brick can start taking in additional moisture causing mold and even rust to steel components further in.

Like most things we procrastinate, the longer you leave damaged brick unrepaired, the more costly and involved the repairs will likely become. You can often even utilize your property insurance for repairs to help offset the cost, but you must make the claim within a certain window of time. Of course, proper maintenance can also prolong your need for repairs.

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