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Common problems with a Brick Veneer

Updated on November 13, 2011

Common Cracks in Brickwork

Sunday morning you walked outside to get the paper. As you stroll back to the house down your long driveway, you notice something that catches your eye. You walk around the corner of your house and stop sharply in amazement. You are looking in disbelief at your awesome Massachusetts brick house there appears to be a big vertical crack in the brick work.

How in the world did that happen?

And how do you go about fixing it?

Everything can be repaired and fixed, so take a deep breath and relax. This happens quite a lot to large spans in masonry walls. So you are not alone.

Millions of homeowners find cracks in their veneers, chimneys and steps every year. So don't call your real estate agent quite yet! Below we have prepared some information to allow you to understand how this happens.

1.) Settling - These types of commons cracks are sometimes appear as a stepping or stair type of crack. It moves along the bed joint and steps up following the vertical joints. Commonly close to the end of the wall, near the corners or where the masonry would be its weakest, like next to an opening, angle iron or quoins. It is advisable to monitor this type of cracking to see if it will continue to move or if it has stopped. Once it has stopped it can be repaired quite easily.

2. ) Thermal Expansion Failure Cracking - A vertical crack usually located lengthwise on the wall. It is the result of thermal heating of a masonry panel, without proper control joints. Masonry veneers especially brick expand when the sun is beating down on them. These walls have metal ties in them and expand in the sun. Without proper control joints a crack will develop.

3. ) Expansion due to steel - Another type of crack that appears quite often over openings. What usually happens is the steel that is imbedded inside the masonry for support heats up and heaves the masonry. The steel and masonry will both heat and expand. Steel just does it at a quicker rate.

4. ) Leaning or bulging walls - Pressure to the back side of the wall can cause the wall to lean, bow or bulge. Sometimes it appears that the wall is leaning or sinking. This is the most serious type of wall problem and needs immediate attention. Care must be taken when repairing this defect in the wall as well. The most common reason for a wall to do this is improper tying into the structure behind the wall.

Solution to any structural issue in a brick veneer would be to contact a Harvard ma masonry repair contractor. It is advisable any time you are outside in the yard to look at your home, look at your gutters, chimney, roof, foundation. Get to know your property and you will know when something is out of place and needs attention.

Veneer inspection


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    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa


      You are welcome!

    • Authenticmasonry profile image

      Authenticmasonry 6 years ago from USA

      Great points, thanks for the input!

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa


      Masonry and concrete is my game. Trouble shooting construction problems can be challenging at times.

      Allow me to add .1.) Settling : Is due to failure of ground support of a foundation or too much weight resting on large expanded openings. Note, that concrete and masonry are solid materials that will crack, in most cases require prompt attention. The services of a professional is required to determine corrective solutions.

      The picture ‘’ common cracks’’ is a foundation problem.

      2. ) Thermal Expansion Failure Cracking: the metal ties are not the cause of vertical cracks. Lack of expansion joints in long or radius wall corners is the primary causes. Vertical joints can be installed by saw cutting vertically a joint into the masonry ,afterward installing a good expansion joint filler.

      3. ) Expansion due to steel: these types of cracks occur when the thickness of the steel is not sized properly for the weight that the steel is carrying over an opening. Solution if possible to add a support(column) in the span opening. If not possible call your local mason contractor

      4. ) Leaning or bulging walls: the problem usually occurs when backfilling fill behind high walls ( concrete or block foundation wall ) important to vertically brace the walls while backfilling. In veneered walls water may be entering the masonry and freezing (cold weather areas) between the wall and brick veneer, causing the masonry to bulge.

      Homeowners should not attempt to make repairs until a professional advisor or a licensed contractor has been contacted.

      Have a great day , enjoyed your hub