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kourso 07-11-2007 01:15 AM

Bad Brick Mortar ???
I have a brick veneer house 13 yr old and now I see brick mortar cracks that run several bricks diagonally downward from the top layers of brick.
The cracks are anywhere from hairline to almost a 1/4 in. wide. Yet the concrete slab isn't cracked thru anywhere. How did the bricks let go with out a slab break ? The line runs across a window sill ledge. I suspect the brick mortar was poorly mixed, brittle and sandy. Now I have several cracks appearing around the perimeter of the house. What can I do to correct/patch the cracked brick sections. NO bricks are cracked/broken only the mortar.
Please give me some advice.

RippySkippy 07-11-2007 06:40 AM

DAGS for tuck pointing....unless you are in the middle of a structural failure, your exterior while durable is not maintenance free. My neighbor has a house that's 6 months old, and the brick mortar has cracked from ever window and door corner.

concretemasonry 07-11-2007 08:10 AM

Bad Brick Mortar ???
Are these very cracks recent or they have progressively growing?

How are the bricks supported at the base of the veneer?

What is the construction of the house structure? How many stories?

If you actually have 1/4" cracks, you could have some serious movement. Clay brick does not shrink, so something may have moved or expanded. Since the cracks start at the top of the veneer, this indicates some movement of the frame it self.

Before doing a lot of chipping, routing and tuckpointing has a prefessional determine the cause of the movement.

When you do tuckpoint or have it tuckpointed, make sure the proper mortatr is used. You do not need a cement-rich strong mortar. - Addition: You should not use a strong mortar!!!!!!

jkrodger 07-11-2007 08:25 AM

My house also has some cracks in the mortar, especially around windows. It's 82 years old and our inspector took a look at some of the other mortar around it and thinks that the mortar was just poorly mixed. We're just going to tuck point and keep an eye on it to see if those cracks come back.

kourso 10-19-2010 01:54 AM

Well, the brick crack saga continues! It was three years ago when I saw the crack and filled it with brick repair caulk and it came out really well. Now the crack filler has opened and the cracks are somewhat wider than they were. It starts at the top course of brick at a wall corner which is right at a bathroom window. Extending from the above the left hand corner of the window frame down the entire left side of the window frame, then it goes from one brick course down at least 5 or 6 almost to the concrete slab.
In addition, I now see several other smaller cracks in other sides of the house brick.
I still don't see how the bricks are giving way, w/o the concrete slab giving?
I am having a couple of foundation repair companies inspect and see what is going on with this.
I sure hope it isn't dealing with the wood frame of the home but I don't want any concrete slab foundation failure either? Which is worse or better?
Please give me some pointers on understanding foundation repair companies.
thanks guys,

Tscarborough 10-19-2010 07:23 AM

It sounds like shrinkage cracking to me. Are the brick concrete or clay?

kourso 10-19-2010 01:13 PM

The bricks are clay and the white/grey mortar apparently wasn't mixed right when the bricks were laid.
I think it was too sandy and is this what can result from the a bad mortar mix? What exactly is shrinking, the bricks,the mortar or both?
As I had said, the slab appears to be normal, no fracture,vertical hairline cracks? But something is giving way right on the house rear corner, It is only like one or two bricks from the actual corner, the bathroom window is right there and it has moved away from the window frame more, across the frame top and down the entire frame left side(side closest to the corner)
Can I take some digital pictures to post here and get some of your opinions,suggestions?
I want to correct this and also not let this get much worse.

stuart45 10-19-2010 01:15 PM

Pictures would help a lot.

kourso 10-20-2010 11:21 AM


Originally Posted by stuart45 (Post 519592)
Pictures would help a lot.

I just uploaded some foundation problem pics to this forum.

Try this link:

stuart45 10-20-2010 01:08 PM

The brickwork looks really poorly constructed. I always think that poor brickwork reflects on the general standard of workmanship of the property.
The cracking looks more serious than normal moisture/thermal movement.

jomama45 10-20-2010 06:20 PM


Originally Posted by stuart45 (Post 520177)
The brickwork looks really poorly constructed.

It sounds like you're "dogging" my work pal............ :mad:

To the OP: any chance you can get a pic or 2 from a little farther back, getting the entire height of the wall in the frame?

Daniel Holzman 10-20-2010 07:11 PM

During my year down south inspecting property damage after Katrina and Rita, I saw a lot of brick damage very similar to what you have. We traced the problems to several root causes.

In some cases, the mortar mix was portland cement, very strong, and as the house changed dimensions due to normal seasonal variation in temperature and moisture conditions, the mortar would remain intact and the bricks would break.

In some cases, the brick veneer was not attached properly to the wall (there were no brick ties, the wrong brick ties were used, or the brick ties had rusted because the air was salty and they were not galvanized). Failure of the brick ties would almost always lead to cracking of the mortar, brick, or both.

In some cases, there was no provision for movement of the brick, in other words the brick was attached too rigidly to the house, and due to differential movement between the wood framing and the brick, cracks would develop.

Sometimes the brick and mortar cracked due to movement of the foundation. This was common for pier and beam houses, and slab supported houses, expecially over expansive clay soil.

There were numerous causes of the failure, in all cases it required a hands on inspection to determine the root cause. Usually I did a detailed topographic survey of the floor elevation to see if there was any settlement. Occasionally we ran across a house where interior brick was improperly used on the exterior. In a few cases, we were unable to determine the cause of failure.

I suggest you get a hands on examination by a local expert, its going to be very difficult to reach a firm conclusion based on a description and some pictures, although the pictures are good.

Tscarborough 10-20-2010 09:51 PM

Stuart, that is a popular style of jointing in some areas. Unfortunately it tends to crack and leak more often than properly tooled joints.

Regardless, you DO have foundation issues. Concrete is much more flexible than brick and mortar, and that appears to be common and classical corner droop.

kourso 10-21-2010 07:11 AM

Hey Guys,
First of all THANK YOU for ALL of your opinions, knowledge and expertise in this matter. All of you have valid concerns/points. The brickwork in my own opinion is on the semi poor side, some sections were better than others depending on who was doing what on that brick crew on what day. I do believe it was also some badly mixed mortar batches. The flip side of this is, it was meant to be a "sack finish", kinda like full filled mortar joints with some limited overrun and then mortar is swiped across the whole brick finish. I found out the hard way that it also was done improperly for the most part.
Overall from a distance, the house brick is fairly nice looking. I will find a couple of pics with the new architect shingles and post them soon, so you can give me your thoughts.
Secondly, I don't know how many brick ties they did actually put, but I don't think it was very many at all, very few widely spread out. I believe it is a combination of several factors, river silt/sand fill added to raise elevation 1' right before construction, several hot/dry drought periods 20-40 days @ up to 98-100 degrees, drying out under/around the house. Big Pin Oak tree sucking up ground water immediately in front of my house slab.
Most of this is happening on the rear of a U shaped house with the longest continuous run of concrete with brickwall and the biggest crack/break is within 1 1/2 ft. from the corner/end wall.
There was also a fairly large Gum tree that fell within 20' off to the side of that corner break area during a hurricane and I am sure it had some impact, that could have jarred the house foundation.
I do also remember some bulldozer/log truck/trackhoe activity several times through the years transversing the rear of the house about 75 to 100' away. My house would have some pretty good motion at times from these things occurring. Makes me wonder if any of this took a toll and resulted in this damage now?
I will take a couple of more pics today or tomorrow a little further away from the wall to give a better viewpoint.
Finally, I must ask, what would be the better lifting method/technique to use for this and should it raise it to the point of most of the cracks closing substantially.
I have 4 different foundation companies coming soon to inspect, Olshan, Cable Lock, WKC and Baton Rouge Foundation (last two local)
The Baton Rouge Foundation guy says he will not be responsible for ANY plumbing or interior wall/ceiling damages resulting from the corrective work that he does, is this the norm?
What are the odds of that type of damage occurring on corrective work?
Just want to know what questions to ask when they inspect and want big bucks to do this. BR foundation guy already saying at least 10 pilings/piers at $400 a piece and some other accessory charges! So already $4000 at least for a beginning guess!
Hope I didn't forget anything else? ha
Oh, could a civil engineer be of help to me? I have a good friend that is a recent college graduate, that I could enlist to assist me in some way. I am thinking I could let him review the foundation company quotes/technical drawings to determine the best approach to take.
Thank YOU very much!

stuart45 10-21-2010 12:48 PM


Originally Posted by Tscarborough (Post 520440)
Stuart, that is a popular style of jointing in some areas. Unfortunately it tends to crack and leak more often than properly tooled joints.


I was looking at the split brick under the lintel at the frame where they hadn't worked the bed joints out, and the brickwork is not running 1/2 bond in some places.
I have bag rubbed work to be painted, or when recreating an Inglenook fireplace in an old house. I don't like it for normal facework.
Still, beauty is in the eye of ______

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