There are many homeowners who chose their brick homes because they felt they would be more robust and resilient in the face of the often-harsh weather in Denver. Brick is an incredibly durable material that has many benefits, but it is not impossible to damage. Those who live in brick homes have just as many challenges to face as those who live in wood-frame homes—they are simply different. The weight and rigidity of bricks, for example, pose a unique set of risks and issues, and this means learning to look for a whole new range of problem signs.
Finding cracked bricks in and around your home is concerning for a number of reasons, but the one thing that many homeowners may not consider is what these cracks can be problem signs of. It takes an immense amount of pressure to crack bricks, so if you see cracks in your bricks, it is time to consider the possibility of serious structural damage in your home.
What Cracked Bricks Are Problem Signs Of
There are a number of things that can cause bricks to crack, including accidental damage, wider structural problems, and even defects in the bricks themselves. Figuring out which of these issues is at work in a home can be tricky, but professionals have the tools and experience to diagnose the problems within a property quickly and effectively.
“Structural damage” is a very broad term that covers a range of issues, but it is the best one to use in this situation. Any kind of structural damage, whether it’s foundation damage like settlement or direct damage to your property’s walls, is capable of causing cracked bricks over time. This is because of the immense pressure that structural movement of any kind can exert upon your home.
There are some structural issues that cracked bricks are more likely to signify. Settlement, for example, is very likely to cause cracked bricks and mortar as an early problem sign. It is a process by which chunks of a foundation fragment and sink into gaps in the soil underneath a home. This is commonly caused by the shrinking of expansive soils (like the heavy clay soils found around Denver).
Structural damage causes extreme pressure upon a home, but there are times when pressure, particularly lateral pressure, is applied by forces outside of the property altogether. The most likely cause of this kind of pressure in and around Denver is extreme soil saturation, heavy rainfall, and flooding. These occurrences, when combined with the heavy clay-based soil, can exert a huge amount of hydrostatic pressure onto a home and cause many issues. Cracked bricks are just one of the problem signs you may see associated with this kind of issue.
Defects and Flaws
Though it is uncommon, there is a chance that the cracked bricks around your home are a problem sign for defects and flaws in the bricks themselves. This is more common in poured concrete surfaces, but can occur in bricks and has as much to do with the way the bricks were fired as it does with the materials that were used to make them. If your bricks have fundamental flaws, you will be likely to see very clean cracks that are irregularly placed rather than organic cracks that follow a certain line through multiple bricks.
As you can see, cracked bricks can be a problem sign for some very serious issues in a property. It is important to address the issue as soon as possible and seek professional help to identify and repair the problems in your home.
Additional Problem Signs to Consider
Whenever there are structural issues in a home, there is a very real possibility of secondary and tertiary damage. That is to say that it is possible that the original structural damage can cause new problems for your property. Annual maintenance by local experts can help prevent this.
These secondary issues will cause the formation of further problem signs, and these can be used by professionals to help in the diagnosis of the overall damage to your property. These are some of the most common additional problem signs you might see in a home with cracked bricks:
High Relative Humidity
High relative humidity around a home is a very general problem sign that can be attached to a number of issues including structural damage and damage to your plumbing system or appliances. Nonetheless, if you see signs of high humidity (like condensation, for example) in your home alongside cracked bricks, there is a good chance that these cracks are at least contributing to increased humidity and dampness in your home.
Mold and Wood Rot
If your home is already experiencing issues with dampness and humidity, things like mold and wood rot are almost inevitable. This fungal growth is very similar in many ways, including the required growth conditions and preference for wood and organic materials, but there are a few fundamental differences.
Mold is unlikely to damage your property’s structure in a non-cosmetic sense, whereas wood rot can cause serious and widespread structural damage very quickly. By contrast, wood rot tends to not be directly harmful to people unless ingested, whereas mold can make you very sick if you have prolonged exposure to it. Black mold in particular can cause many issues including headaches and migraines, breathlessness and fainting, rashes and infections, and even seizures.
Mold typically presents itself as organically shaped patches of discoloration and will create a musty, often sweet smell as it spreads. Wood rot, by contrast, generally has no distinct odor but will impact the structure and texture of wood as it consumes various parts of it. The three main kinds of wood rot (brown, white, and soft) each attack different parts of wood’s cellular structure and look different, but they all make wooden surfaces weak and increase the chances of collapse.
Sagging floors in a home that has cracked bricks can be connected to a number of potential issues, but most of the time, the sagging will be a result of some kind of damage to the joists that support it. Your property’s floor joists can be impacted by foundation damage, for example, because of the way it can separate them from the flooring they are meant to support. Likewise, dampness and humidity can cause wood rot to take root in the flooring joists around your home.
Whatever the cause of damage to your joists, the first problem sign on your floor will likely be a slight bounciness or sagging underfoot. After a while, this bounciness will become a noticeable and visible sag or unevenness. At this point, you can be sure the damage is advanced and should contact a professional immediately.
If you see cracked bricks in your home, there is a good chance they are being caused by a wall that is starting to bow. Bowing walls are unfortunately common around Denver and can be problem signs of many things including high hydrostatic pressure, foundation damage, and lateral movement.
While bowing walls can be a sign of other issues, there is also a good chance that this is the main cause of your home’s cracked bricks. If this is the case, you will find that the cracked brickwork is entirely localized to the damaged and deviating walls. If the cracks spread beyond the walls that are bowing, it is possible that the two issues share a common cause or that there is more than one issue at work in your home.
Sticking Doors and Windows
Sticking doors and windows can be entirely benign and a sign of nothing more than some damaged or under-maintained hinges and opening mechanisms, but that is not always the case. If all of the doors and windows in a certain part of your home start to stick and jam with no explanation, it is equally likely that structural movement and damage are at work.
Issues like foundation damage and bowing walls can cause door and window frames to become deformed. This will, over time, inhibit the ability of windows and doors to open and close as they should. If you have jamming and sticking doors and windows around areas of your property that have cracked bricks you should consider this an additional problem sign and make a professional aware so that they can investigate.
Floor and Wall Gaps
Floor and wall gaps are another problem sign that can be connected to many issues. These gaps can form because the walls are deviating from their intended positioning, or because the flooring itself is damaged and pulling away from the walls. Though it is not always the case, you can often identify where the issue is coming from by considering how the gap forms.
For example, if the gap forms under the baseboard, then the flooring is likely to be pulling away and sinking. If the floor seems to be separating horizontally, however, then it may be that the walls are moving. This is not always the case, which is why it is best to contact a professional.
If you see any of these problem signs it is key that you call a professional to discuss the issues in your home and get a comprehensive repair solution in place. Acting quickly could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
There is a chance that your cracked bricks have been caused by accidental damage, but generally speaking, this kind of issue is caused by ongoing problems and pressures around your home. The most common causes of cracked bricks are dehydrated soil and hydrostatic pressure. A less common cause of cracked bricks is the presence of invading tree roots. Mature tree roots, in particular, can spread far and exert huge amounts of pressure.
Homes and structures of all kinds require stability to ensure they stay in good health. While there are some things that are more harmful to structures and properties than others, any extreme conditions or situations can cause cracked bricks in or around a home. Excessively dry soil is one such extremity. While Colorado has a generally wet climate in winter and spring, the summers can be hot and dry. While severe droughts are rare, they do happen from time to time; when they do, the outcomes can be severe.
The soil around Colorado Springs can be heavily clay-based, which exacerbates the impact a drought or flood will have. Clay soils are expansive and water-reactive. When they are wet, they swell and increase in volume, and when they become dehydrated, they shrink and become brittle. This can leave structures and properties without support and lead to cracked bricks, walls, and foundations as they struggle to cope with the weight that is placed upon them. This can happen in a localized way or as a part of a wider process called settlement.
Hydrostatic pressure is one of the most common causes of structural damage to properties in Colorado Springs. This is unfortunate because hydrostatic pressure is a constant presence around any home. Hydrostatic pressure is merely the weight of the soil around a home combined with the water the soil holds. Expansive soils like those found around Colorado Springs exacerbate issues like hydrostatic pressure because of the way they react to the presence or absence of water.
When there is a particularly wet winter or the spring thaw is heavy, the level of hydrostatic pressure that homes around Colorado Springs experience can be dramatically increased. When the level of pressure is high enough, it is common for properties that are affected to have cracked bricks, foundations, and foundation walls. When this is the cause of cracked bricks, they will often be accompanied by dampness or small amounts of pooling moisture.
Cracked brickwork is certainly an unsightly problem, but the unattractive nature of cracked bricks in or around a property is the smallest of the many issues that are attached to this kind of damage. Cracked brickwork is a sign that the affected structure is under immense pressure from somewhere, and this can cause a number of other problems.
Bowing Walls and Uneven Flooring
Cracked bricks can be a sign that there is a deeper structural issue within your home as a whole and these problems need to be addressed right away. However, cracked bricks are also more vulnerable to pressure. This means that even if your cracked bricks are not a sign of bowing walls or damaged flooring, they could lead to these problems by weakening them.
Whether the cracked bricks are a contributing cause to leaning or bowing walls and uneven flooring or they are merely a symptom of this deeper structural damage, it is important that you act quickly. Waiting too long will allow the issues to snowball and could cause localized or widespread collapse in your home.
Dampness and Humidity
Even if the cracked bricks in your home were damaged by one-time accidental damage, their presence in your home will make it more vulnerable to dampness and humidity. This is because cracks in brickwork or the structure of your home will let water seep in from outside of your home over time. This will be most evident and serious when the weather is wet or the soil around your home is saturated.
Once moisture gets into your home, however, the real problems begin. Dampness and humidity are important factors in the formation of damaging substances like mold, mildew, and wood rot fungus. This means that the presence of cracked bricks and dampness could lead to the formation of substances that are dangerous to your health and well-being or the health of your home. As you can see, cracked bricks are always a problem, even if that problem is not structural in nature.
It is possible to repair cracked bricks in your home, but the process can be very complex. This is why repairing cracked bricks and other forms of structural damage around a property is something we do not recommend you attempt without professional assistance and guidance.
The Trouble With DIY
While we understand that having DIY skills can be very useful in many situations, there are some situations in which DIY work can make problems worse. Structural damage is one of those situations in which you should not try to undertake DIY repairs because of the likelihood that the process will cause more damage to your home. This can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the most common is a misdiagnosis of the causes of cracked bricks and damage. If you do not diagnose the underlying causes correctly, any repair solutions you deploy will be inherently flawed.
Likewise, if you do not identify all co-occurring, secondary, or tertiary problems in your property, the repair solution you deploy will be incomplete. This means that even if the damage you fixed does not recur, there will be a much higher chance of new kinds of damage forming in the long term. This will ultimately increase your repair costs and the time you have to spend keeping your home in good health.
Professional Repairs Guarantee Quality
Professional repairs for cracked bricks are by far the most effective response to this kind of damage. This is because they are far better placed to properly recognize and diagnose the underlying causes of cracked bricks. Secondly, professionals have the training, skills, and experience to formulate and deploy a repair solution that will work. This means that whatever the process uncovers, they will be able to act quickly and effectively.
Finally, there is the matter of availability. The products and tools required to undertake repair work are not always easy to come by if you are not a professional and you lack access to industry supply stores. Professionals, by contrast, have all of the tools and equipment that they need on hand and can buy the very best products directly from the manufacturers if they need to. This means you can expect guaranteed quality from professional repairs.
Call Complete Basement Systems for Expert Foundation Repairs
If you have noticed cracked bricks around your home, or any of the other problem signs we have discussed, it is time to reach out to professionals to ensure your property is brought back to full health. Here at Complete Basement Systems, we are experts in dealing with foundation and structural damage of all kinds. We have a team of specialists who are always on hand to help homeowners around Denver and Colorado Springs. Contact us today to schedule your free foundation inspection and repair estimate.