The new homes that are built nowadays include higher-quality materials, better insulation, and state-of-the-art technologies that make them more energy-efficient than older homes. However, we all love the old Houston homes, with their complex architectural structures and decorative details, which create a sense of history and permanence.
Adding timeless, historic charm and character to buildings, brickwork is one of the most valuable architectural details in older homes. On the downside, there are a whole host of problems you may encounter with brick masonry. For instance, water infiltration inside brick walls could cause water stains, efflorescence, and mold growth, and may lead to extensive structural damage, if left unaddressed. But all these can be easily avoided by employing the following guidelines.
Inspect Your Home
Inspecting your older home on a regular basis can help you identify different issues early and address their underlying causes before they turn into more significant problems. When inspecting your brick masonry, you may observe dirt accumulation, moss, mold, stains, cracks, spalling, mortar deterioration, and even structural failures. Regardless of the problems you identify, it’s important to know that brick walls can be restored to their former glory by opting for the right cleaning and repair methods.
Clean Your Brick Wall Annually
One way to keep brick masonry in good shape is to clean it once a year. Cleaning your brick walls with a garden hose and a spray nozzle will allow you to remove dust, dirt, and grime. To remove stubborn stains, wet the entire wall with clean water. Then, apply a mild detergent solution that is suitable for cleaning brick and scrub any visible stains using a soft-bristle brush. Never use a high-powered pressure washer or harsh chemicals to clean bricks, as they may damage your masonry. After removing the stains, rinse the entire wall with clean water once again. As soon as the wall dries completely, you can inspect it for problems that might have been hidden by dust or dirt, such as cracks and water stains.
While most superficial hairline cracks in brick walls don’t indicate a serious problem, deep, long cracks may be a sign of a structural issue, such as foundation settling/shifting or water damage. If you suspect any problem with your home’s foundation, it’s advisable to call in a professional, who can evaluate your foundation and recommend the most appropriate repair methods, if required. As superficial cracks in your brick masonry could allow moisture and water to seep into your wall, it’s important to repair all the cracks using a suitable filler.
Brick masonry is very durable. However, the mortar between bricks deteriorates over time. If not fixed, the crumbling mortar will allow water to seep in between bricks, leading to different problems. Repointing bricks will prevent deterioration in brickwork, while also enhancing the beauty of your wall. When repointing bricks, using the right type of mortar is imperative in order to achieve the best results possible and maintain the beautiful patina of your wall. Mortar that isn’t perfectly compatible may lead to spalling, cracking, rot, and mold growth on the interior surface of the wall. After the wall has completely dried, applying a high-quality sealer will allow you to restore the color of your bricks and preserve the integrity of the wall.
Address Water Damage
If you observe water stains, moss, algae, mold growth, or other signs of water damage, the problem may be caused by clogged gutters, too short or improperly directed downspouts, or poor drainage, which may cause the rainwater to accumulate around your foundation. Cleaning your gutters regularly, extending or redirecting downspouts toward drainage paths, and ensuring proper landscape drainage can protect your home’s foundation and brick walls from potential water damage.
Well-maintained exposed brick walls can be some beautiful design elements that will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property. While inspecting, cleaning, and repairing brickwork in a timely manner will ensure the long-term integrity and beauty of your brick walls, regardless of their age, identifying foundation problems early could help you prevent costly repairs. If you have noticed any foundation issues, our specialists have the right tools and expertise to get your foundation repair project done right the first time!