Brick Repair and Common Causes of Cracking

brick repair torontoBricks have been a popular building material for well over 2,000 years and the things that attract people to them today are the same things that made them popular with the Etruscans and the Romans after them. They’re durable, easy to use, they provide a rock-solid defence against Mother Nature and they look good. But while bricks have a host of things going for them they’re not indestructible and it’s not at all uncommon to be mowing the lawn and spot cracks running through your home’s exterior walls or chimney. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons for cracks that will have you calling for brick repair in Toronto.

4 Causes of Cracked Bricks

Given enough time brickwork will deteriorate. But cracks are not always the result of the passage of time. Sometimes they result from other causes that bring undue pressure to bear on the bricks. Here are some of those causes.

  • Settlement of the house: All houses settle to some degree. If the settlement is severe enough what are known as “stair step cracks” can form in the brickwork. This type of crack forms a zigzag pattern that works its way up through the brickwork on the outside of the house. If left unattended this type of crack can lead to water intrusion which can freeze and expand, aggravating the original crack structure and causing an even more serious problem.
  • Thermal expansion: Just as concrete roads and driveways are susceptible to cracking due to the freeze/thaw cycle so your brickwork can be compromised by expansion and contraction. Brickwork expands when heated by the sun and contracts when the sun goes down. If expansion joints were not built into the brickwork this continual expansion and contraction will take a toll on the structural integrity of the brickwork and cracks will begin to appear.
  • Support-related cracks: Above doors and windows bricks are often supported by steel bars that allow the brickwork to bridge the top of the opening without collapsing. Problem is this steel undergoes temperature related expansion and contraction that is different than that of the brick it’s supporting. The difference between the expansion/contraction rates of the different materials creates stress that can cause the weaker material (the brick) to crack.
  • Cracks due to bulging: If brickwork has not been properly reinforced it can begin to bow or bulge with the passage of time. The bulging will put incredible stresses on the brick causing it to develop cracks. A bulging wall is no laughing matter and needs to be addressed promptly and effectively lest the wall give in to the forces of gravity and collapse.

First Class Brick Repair Toronto

Cummins Restorations are experts in the field of brickwork installation and brick repair in Toronto. We can effectively fix any cracking issues you may be having with your brickwork in a fast and affordable manner. To schedule brick repair in Toronto or if you have masonry-related questions or issues call Cummins Restorations on (416) 992-7965.

Brick Repair 101: Essential Points to Consider

brick repair torontoHomeowners in Toronto know how hard the climate can be on their properties and do not need reminding why they should ensure that the exterior walls of their home are maintained in excellent condition. If the exterior walls of your home have exposed brickwork, you will eventually need to have that brickwork repaired to ensure that it remains in good condition.

Signs That May Indicate the Necessity of Brick Repair for Toronto Homes

There are a few signs you can look out for before you contact a local contractor to talk about repairs to your brickwork.

  1. Crumbling Mortar – If the mortar in between the bricks has started to crumble, it is time to have the joints tuckpointed. Leaving them as they are will only result in further deterioration of the condition of the mortar, which could lead to the second sign to look out for below.
  2. Loose Bricks – One of the most common reasons that people contact us to enquire about masonry repair in Toronto is because they have noticed that some of the bricks in their walls have come loose, or even been dislodged completely. This is a sure sign that the mortar between the bricks is in a very poor state.
  3. Cracked Bricks – There are a number of reasons that the bricks in your walls could develop cracks but whatever the underlying cause, they will need to be replaced with new bricks to ensure that the walls in question remain stable and sound.
  4. White Deposit on Surface of Bricks – This is almost always salt, from the mortar in between the bricks. If you see it on the surface of the bricks of your Toronto home, it is a sign that water is penetrating the wall and the bricks themselves. As the water evaporates, the salt is left behind on the bricks. The water could be penetrating your walls due to crumbling or cracked mortar, or perhaps cracked bricks. Either way, repairs will be necessary.

At Cummins Restorations, we have dealt with all of the above symptoms countless times over the years that we have been in business so please feel free to call us if you would like any help or advice. If you would like to take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of masonry repair in Toronto, we will be delighted to provide you with a competitive quotation for the work that needs to be done.

The Importance of Mortar Matching During Do-It-Yourself Brick Repair

brick repair torontoWhen you choose to conduct chimney repair on your own, there are many details to consider. One of these details, which you will come across during tuckpointing or brick repair, is the exact mix of the mortar used to stick the bricks together. It is often impossible to find the exact brand of mortar mix used during the original construction of your chimney, so you have to take care mixing the new mortar to exact specifications.

What Considerations Should I Make Before Mixing Up a New Batch of Mortar for Brick Repair?

There are several, including:

  • Mortar Strength – Mortar made nowadays is not the same as the mortar made in the past. Modern mortar is stronger, more durable, and composed of tighter chemical bonds. When up-to-date mortar is spread in the joints of a chimney that is partly made up of older and weaker mortar, it can throw off the load factors by placing more weight on certain bricks (the ones covered by the old mortar) than others. This can easily cause bricks to deform or even break, an event that will likely lead to a chain reaction, destroying the chimney.
  • Mortar Colour – As you can imagine, the exterior appearance of a chimney loses a significant amount of its charming allure if half of the lines of mortar running between its bricks are cream-colored and the other half are pure white. This is why it is of utmost importance to carefully match the color of any new mortar to the exact color of the old mortar. You may have to get creative with masonry coloring to match a mortar that contains unusual tints.
  • Mortar Durability – Mortar is traditionally a mix of 1 part cement, 1 part lime (as in limestone), and 6 parts sand. Most mortar does not stick to this formula exactly, however, and even a slight differential in a mortar’s formula, like 1.05 parts lime instead of 1, can make a substantial difference in its durability. And we probably don’t have to spell out for you what will happen if parts of your chimney’s mortar structure corrode at a faster rate than other parts. Hint: it ends in a collapsed chimney.

Mixing mortar to the exact specifications put forth by your old mortar can be a nightmare, but the highly-trained brick repair and tuckpointing experts at the Toronto-based Cummins Restorations are happy to help.

4 Reasons Why Your Property Might Need Brick Repair

Brick Repair torontoBrick has proven itself to be an exceptional building material over a very long period of time, but that doesn’t mean that it’s immune to damage. No, in fact it’s actually fairly common for homeowners in Toronto to require brick repair (we wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t) in order to restore their property back to “like new” condition. But what causes the deterioration in condition of the bricks that slot together to form the shell of your home? Knowing this could potentially help you to avoid doing anything that could cause damage to your home over the long run, which is why we’re going to outline four of the top factors that damage bricks during this article.

Factors that Can Lead to the Need for Brick Repair

The signs that brick repair is required are quite obvious most of the time, with diagonal cracks, bowed walls and a white residue on the bricks all indicative that something is wrong. But what causes this damage?

  • Moisture – If water is allowed to penetrate brick and soak into it, some serious problems can occur. There are a wide range of conditions that can lead to this including excess condensation caused by a lack of ventilation, insufficient or a complete lack of surface drainage, windblown rain, poor condition of surrounding mortar and encroaching vegetation. Water penetrating brick is a particular issue in areas of the property where the brick is provided with no shelter, such as on the roof and on the upper floors of larger buildings.
  • Salt – Another factor that plays a major role in the deterioration of the condition of brick, salts often make their way into the brick when contaminated water penetrates it. Two of the most common salts that can damage brick are sea salt (obviously only an issue for properties that are situated along the coast or by saltwater lakes) and the salt used for gritting the roads in Toronto in the wintertime. Salt will damage brickwork because salt crystals expand over time, eventually creating cracks and forcing the bricks apart.
  • Structural Fault – The development of a structural fault can cause extensive damage to the brickwork of a property and will typically be displayed in the form of large cracks. Structural faults may occur as the foundations of the building settle or perhaps due to an outside influence such as tree roots.
  • Vegetation – While we just mentioned that tree roots can sometimes cause serious structural faults within a building, other forms of vegetation can also often have a negative effect on the condition of your home’s bricks. Creeping plants such as ivy will pry open superficial cracks and cause more extensive damage, and if there’s a large surface covering of moss, it’s an indicator that water has long since penetrated the brick and that there are some serious issues with moisture.

If you’ve noticed some signs of damage to your brickwork but you’re not sure about what’s causing it, contact our brick repair contractors. We have over two decades of experience carrying out brick and masonry repair, and we also carry out tuckpointing and chimney repair work too.

for brick repair in Toronto call today

Do You Need Brick Repair?

brick repair toronto

The bricks walls that represent the exterior of our homes are constantly exposed to a range of weather conditions, which can be particularly punishing in the Toronto area at times, and it’s only normal that this will have an effect on their condition over time. This rate of deterioration is further exaggerated if the wall was poorly constructed in the first place or has been poorly maintained over the years. There comes a point where it becomes necessary to contact a brick repair specialist to improve the condition of these walls, otherwise the wall might be in serious danger of collapsing. The question that many people struggle to get right is “when” to make that call. Cummins Restorations Inc. deals with a wide range of masonry repair problems every year, including brick repair, and during this article we’re going to point out a few of the telltale signs that indicate that you do need to make that call.

Signs that a Call to a Brick Repair Specialist is a Must

Being able to spot signs of deterioration early is key to maintaining “healthy” walls at your property, as this provides you with the opportunity to do something about it before the issue becomes too serious. In particular, we would recommend that you watch out for the following signs:

  • White Powder on the Wall – This white powder is what masonry repair professionals refer to as efflorescence and is an indication that a considerable amount of moisture has accumulated in the brick wall over a significant period of time. As a result, your wall is no longer able to dry out as it normally would. Why is this “white powder” left behind? Well, the moisture we just mentioned that is inside the wall either carries soluble salt itself or it has been dissolved from the mortar that connects the bricks in the wall, and when this water moves to outside of the wall and eventually evaporates, it get’s left behind. The powder is not actually a major issue in itself (besides making your wall look unsightly), rather it’s an indicator that something is wrong, usually with the wall’s drainage cavity, which can get blocked.
  • Diagonal Cracks- It’s a cause for concern should you notice diagonal cracks in your property’s walls, particularly if they are located around the windows. This problem can actually be caused by the process we outlined in the last point, but can also be caused should the condition of the shelf angles deteriorate. These shelf angles provide support to the bricks and are typically made from steel, but if they come into contact with excessive amounts of moisture, over time they can corrode, which causes them to weaken and move. This places more pressure on the bricks, which can lead to diagonal cracks. Should you notice this problem a call to a brick repair specialist is definitely necessary, as once the supporting shelf angles are no longer serving their purpose, the entire wall could collapse should you experience turbulent weather conditions in your local area.
  • The Wall is Bowed – If you notice this problem, don’t put off calling our brick repair team, otherwise the consequences could be devastating. How can a brick wall become bowed? Well, as the bricks take on moisture over a lengthy period of time they will usually expand, which continually cranks up the pressure on the corners of the wall, eventually causing the wall to “move” either in an inward or an outward direction. Eventually the corners of the wall will crack and brick repair becomes a necessity.

If you notice any of the above problems, contact our brick repair team today.