Brick Exterior Inspections…Ask Your Home Inspector in Pittsburgh
about These Four Common Problems
If you’re in the market for a new home, it’s easy to be dazzled by features that have instant curb appeal, such as brick exteriors. What may appear as perfect masonry work, though, may present problems that bear a much closer examination.
Spalling: This is another word for flaking, a sign of water damage to brick. When water gets trapped inside brick (sometimes due to use of non-breathable sealants), the freeze-thaw cycle puts tremendous pressure on the structure, resulting in cracks and then unsightly—and potentially expensive to replace—spalled brick. Further, the impact of water on brick, often the result of poor drainage, consistently wet soil, or bricks placed at or below grade level, can erode surfaces over time. In cases where bricks show significantly deep crumbling, the stability of the entire structure may be at risk—a condition that will be noted by the home inspector.
Bulging: The home inspector will note bowed or bulging walls—another indication that the forces of water are at play. Dry clay-fired brick, for example, will expand as it absorbs moisture. In severe cases, bricks will become dislodged. A lack of sufficiently sized expansion joints may leave no wiggle room for the wall, resulting in outward or inward movement. Further, water can rust and weaken the ties that secure brick to a wood structure.
Efflorescence: This is a fancy word for the white, powdery substance often found on brick. While the substance itself (salt left over from evaporated water) poses only cosmetic concerns, the home inspector will note that its presence signifies a far more serious issue. Efflorescence indicates that there is a great amount of destructive water pressure at work, pushing the efflorescence to the surface and potentially causing the porous brick to spall or break apart over time. Additionally, when the brick wall fails to dry properly, it is highly likely that the structure is plagued with drainage issues, which the home inspector will call out in the report.
Cracked and Missing/Decaying Mortar Joint Sections: Cracks, particularly diagonal ones, can compromise the integrity of a brick wall and provide tell-tale signs that even bigger problems may lie ahead. Due to typical brick wall aging, many homes will show mortar joints that will need to be tuck-pointed. Your home inspector will highlight these issues in the report.
Inspecting a home’s exterior is just one part of an A-Pro 500-point home inspection. To hire a certified local A-Pro home inspector In Pittsburgh, call 1-724-590-0074.