Cracks in brick wall

    Cracks in Brick Wall: Masonry Chicago Expert Guide

    Cracks in Brick Wall — How to Know if They’re Serious

    Bricks are a beautiful and strong building material and can be used to create solid houses and office buildings, chimneys, walls, and stairs. But along with their strength and solidity there comes an inflexibility which means they are prone to cracking. If you see cracks appear in your brickwork it can be a sign of something serious, like issues with your foundation, or it can simply be a result of time and the weather. As cracks in brick house can be a sign of a serious problem it’s always important to speak to a masonry expert, and in Chicago, look no further than Masonry Chicago. We will assess any wall cracks and advise you best on how to repair your brickwork or foundation. Contact us now at  773-231-5371 or email [email protected]

    What causes brick wall to crack?

    There are several reasons that you’ll start to see cracked brick in your house or wall, some of which can be quite serious, while others are merely cosmetic.

    Weather and climate

    Brickwork is porous and so, unless you get it treated with a water-resistant coating, it can be subject to water damage. Changes in temperature and a very dry climate can also cause smaller cracks to appear in brickwork. Fortunately, most brick cracking due to climate factors is fairly minor and not indicative of any major structural issues. This means you don’t need to repair it urgently but you should definitely take care of any smaller cracking bricks or mortar, for the long-term stability of your house.


    One major reason for cracks appearing in brickwork, especially large brick cracks, is ground subsidence. Subsidence is the movement of the soil under your house and can be major or minor. Ensuring you have good drainage around your home can help reduce the issues of subsidence, as the varying moisture content in the soil can be responsible for a lot of subsidence issues.

    Other issues that can lead to subsidence include:

    • Large tree roots growing under your property
    • The presence of a mine or sinkhole under or near your property
    • Different soil types including clay soil or sand

    With a new house, some initial subsidence may occur due to the house and foundation settling, however when there is major subsidence larger brick cracks may begin to appear, and this should be urgently addressed by a contractor with expertise in foundation and masonry.


    If you have an older brick house, particularly with solid cracked brick walls, some small brick cracks will appear due to wear and tear over time. Mortar isn’t as strong as bricks and will need to be repointed from time to time when you see cracks appearing in your mortar joints.

      Types of cracks in brick wall

      As you can see bricks crack for many reasons and the type of brick crack you see in your house will indicate how serious a problem it is and how rapidly you should respond to it.

      • Horizontal cracks — Horizontal brick cracks are generally a sign of problems with your foundation, especially if they are longer cracks. They are more likely to appear in older houses and can be signs of a serious issue, so should not be ignored.
      • Vertical cracks — Vertical brick cracks can also be a sign of issues with the foundation, but may also be a result of thermal changes affecting your brick walls. If you only see the cracks externally they are more likely to be thermal, but if the cracks are also visible on interior walls then foundation repair may be required.
      • Stair-step cracks — stair step brick cracks are not usually as serious as a horizontal crack, but can still be a sign of your foundation settling and moving. If you also have internal movement signs including sticking doors and windows and uneven floors, you should see a foundation or masonry expert immediately.
      • Small brick cracks — if the cracks appearing in your house are small and not deep they are probably cosmetic and a result of time or weather factors. While you should always maintain your house well and repair any cracks, these are not as urgent as the other types of cracked brick walls.
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            Can a cracked brick wall be repaired?

            If you have issues with cracks in brick wall, don’t worry. Your brickwork can be repaired. And if the issue is more serious and you also have foundation damage, that can also be fixed.

            Depending on the severity of the cracks in your brick walls, the repairs will differ:

            • Small cosmetic cracks, especially in the mortar joints, will be repaired by tuck-pointing the mortar, replacing the old damaged mortar with new mortar.
            • Loose or cracked bricks will be replaced with new bricks, color-matched to the existing bricks.

            Larger cracks caused by issues in the foundation will generally need to be repaired after your foundation problems have been solved.

              Frequently Asked Questions

              When should I be concerned about cracks in a brick wall?

              While cracks form in all structures after time if you see any deep or long cracks appearing in your brickwork you should seek an expert opinion as they can indicate an issue with your house foundation. It’s very important not to ignore foundation problems as they can undermine the whole structure of your home.

              You should especially take note of any cracks appearing on an interior wall along with external cracks as well as any other structural issues such as a bowed wall or warping windows, doors, and floors. If you notice any of these signs contact masonry and foundation contractors like Masonry Chicago, immediately.

              Are cracks in brick walls normal?

              While some cosmetic cracks in brick walls are part of the normal aging process of a brick structure, larger horizontal cracks, vertical cracks, and stair-step cracks can be a sign of foundation issues or even foundation failure, which could lead to serious structural damage.

              If you start noticing cracks appear in your brick home we recommend contacting a professional as soon as possible to rule out any serious issues.

              Can you fill cracked bricks?

              Cracked bricks can be repaired or replaced, depending on how severe the cracking is. Smaller cosmetic cracks can be repaired with mortar, while more badly damaged bricks, especially those that are crumbling, need to be replaced with new bricks. If the cracks are mostly in the mortar then a good mason can repoint the brickwork using fresh mortar.

              Why is my brick wall cracking?

              There are various reasons why your brick wall is cracking and they can include:

              • foundation problems
              • climate and weather conditions
              • thermal expansion
              • a new house settling
              • subsidence and soil issues

              If the cracks are more than just cosmetic you should contact an expert, like Masonry Chicago, quickly to avoid any long-term structural issues occurring.

              How much does it cost to repair brick cracks?

              The cost of brick crack repair will depend very much on the severity and extent of the cracking, as well as whether the cracks are at ground level or higher up. For repairs to second-story and above cracks in brick wall of house, the mason will need scaffolding to carry out the repair work which can increase the costs.

              For a bungalow or single-story house, you can expect to pay from $450 – $650 to repair exterior walls. For two and three-story homes, these costs increase from $650 – $1,000+.

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