Why are my bricks crumbling? Have you noticed the bricks on the exterior of your house crumbling, flaking, or fractured? It’s common to see cracking bricks over the years from the house settling and nature taking its toll, but these signs indicate a more serious problem.

This form of deterioration is known as brick spalling. It’s usually the result of water entering brick and mortar and forces the surface to peel, pop out or flake off. Water is a brick’s worst enemy!

It’s important to understand how to identify brick spalling, steps you can take to prevent, and who to contact if the damage has already been done before the damage compromises your home.

How Does Brick Spalling Occur?

Older homes are likely candidates for spalling. The foundation might be brick, and this can extract salt in areas with high salt content. It’s also easy for bricks to absorb and retain excess water from rainstorms for example.

The biggest culprit is the freeze/thaw cycle. The naturally porous surface of bricks holds water that will freeze in the wintertime. This causes the pores to expand. As the season passes and the weather warms up, the expanded pours take on more water, and the cycle repeats itself. Over the years, these pores grow and grow to the point of structural damage.

At first, the surface will only flake and might not be too noticeable. A lot of times we find that homeowners assume flaking is harmless and simply a side effect of climate conditions. The problem is, the more flaking, the softer the surface becomes and the easier it is to absorb moisture. That’s when cracks, crumbling and severe damage occur.

Even in Nashville, the freeze/thaw cycle is a big issue for homeowners. We may not always get a lot of snow in Tennessee, but the excess water is the biggest thing to try and avoid. If it’s anywhere near the brick surface, it won’t evaporate and get drawn directly into the brick.

How Can I Prevent Brick Spalling?

There are preventative measures you can take to avoid brick spalling or maintain the damage if it’s already begun. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Examine the Area

The first step in any damage prevention is to assess the area and figure out what you’re working with. 

  • Take note of any crumbling sections of brick. Pay particular attention to areas of exposed brick. Any area near or behind gutters, windows, and bushes is susceptible to water accumulation against the brick.
  • Inspect the mortar. Whether your house is old or new, look at the craftsmanship. If a poor job was done it could make it more likely that you’ll face brick spalling.
  • Check any pronounced ledges sticking out between the bricks. Shelves can retain large amounts of water and hold the moisture against the wall.
  1. Install Proper Drains

If you don’t already have a drain system around your home, you should consider installing some as soon as possible. Ensuring water is properly draining from around the foundation or anywhere you have a brick surface will reduce the amount of moisture absorbed.

If there are already cracks, proper drain systems can also help prevent any leaks.

  1. Avoid Pressure Washing

The summers get hot and muggy in Nashville, and surfaces get sticky. You might be tempted to wash any dirt and leaves off your house, but you should not pressure wash bricks. The high power will weaken it, and large amounts of water will be absorbed.

  1. Inspect Regularly

One initial examination isn’t enough. You should regularly check all brick surfaces to ensure there are no cracks that need to be sealed or water building up anywhere close by. Interior bricks are usually much softer and more absorbent than the exterior, so be sure to triple-check those.

Additional Information

If you find yourself faced with severe damage from brick spalling, you’ll need brick replacement services. A masonry contractor is the best route whether you’re just looking for some insight or in need of professional service.

At Brick + Ember Outfitters, our Nashville team is prepared to handle any damage repair and area replacement. Our company was established over 10 years ago, and we’ve perfected our chimney and masonry services to give homeowners the peace of mind that the damage is repaired, and their homes are safe.

We value and respect every home we work on. Professionalism and expert customer service are at the foundation of who we are. We promise to ensure completely clean work areas. You don’t want your home to become a construction site, so we take the steps to keep the area organized and free of debris.

Brick spalling is a serious issue. Don’t wait and let the damage get worse! No job is too big or too small for us. Contact us to request an appointment, or if you want more information about the services we provide.