What causes crumbling brick? Water (erosion and freezing), constant weather, and other external factors cause bricks to crumble and deteriorate. Bricks are porous structures, meaning that they absorb moisture very easily. When bricks absorb too much moisture, they begin to lose their adhesiveness and will start to crumble and wear away. This is why it’s important to properly maintain your bricks and know how to spot signs of damage before they begin to worsen. Let’s take a further look into what makes bricks crumble, how to prevent it, and what to do if it eventually occurs.

What causes crumbling brick?

There are a variety of reasons that cause bricks to deteriorate — one of the main reasons is water. Water has many interesting properties that have harmful effects on masonry. Firstly, water erodes bricks and carries away sediment with ease if given the chance. This is especially harmful to mortar (the cement-like paste between bricks that holds them together). Also, water expands when it freezes. If water is trapped inside bricks or in cracks in the wall, freezing water can dislodge and even remove bricks, causing the need for repair or brick replacement. However, in comparison to the life expectancy of home components, bricks typically have a long shelflife of around one hundred years if maintained properly.

How to prevent crumbling brick

The best way to prevent damage to your bricks is to be proactive instead of reactive. This is why it’s important to regularly inspect your home’s brick exterior every few months or so. The inspection doesn’t need to be extensive, however, you should take some time to carefully assess any potential damage. Also, check to see if any water is being allowed to sit or get into your bricks. Faulty gutters and drainage systems can cause water to come into contact with bricks: this should be corrected before erosion starts to worsen. Keeping your exterior brick walls clean and free of plant life is another way to prevent damage; you may also apply masonry sealants to your bricks to protect them. Make sure to use the right kind for your bricks so they remain porous but more protected from the elements.

How to repair crumbling brick

If your brick has already started to crumble, can it be repaired? Yes, it can. You may DIY, however, it’s recommended that a professional does this so further structural damage doesn’t occur. Crumbling and cracked bricks can be replaced with newer bricks and then sealed back into place. Additionally, deteriorating mortar can be replaced with tuckpointing — removing damaged mortar and replacing it with fresh material. 

Hopefully, you now know how to spot the early signs of crumbling bricks, how to prevent this from happening, and how to repair the damage that is already done. If you have further questions, need more information, or want a repair estimate, contact Brickworks, the home repair experts, or call us at (586) 330-4843.