Brick is one of the most durable building products to use for the construction of your home. It is also a traditional building material found in many historical homes across the United States. Brick is easy to maintain, aesthetically beautiful and increases the value of your home. Even though brick requires little annual maintenance to sustain its quality and durability, there are preventive measures that homeowners must take to keep their brick homes beautiful and in good repair.
My husband works as a quality control inspector for a local concrete company and he is the person that our neighbors turn to when they have questions about concrete, brick and stone. He said it is important to check the weep holes to make sure dirt, vines or other objects do not block them. Weep holes are small openings under windowsills and at the base of brick walls that allow any moisture that accumulates in the wall to get out. If these holes are blocked or clogged by vines or dirt, the moisture can cause damage to the walls. Check the weep holes in a brick home periodically to make sure they are clean and open.
Speaking of vines, ivy may look beautiful growing on an historic brick home; however, the vines can cause damage to the brick and mortar. If ivy or plant growth is thick on brick exteriors, moisture can become trapped causing damage to the wall. In addition, organic matter forms humic acid that can damage mortar. Cut vines near the ground, dig up the roots and remove them from the ground. This allows the ivy to die and fall of the brick exterior safely without causing further damage.
Brick exteriors need very little cleaning. Use a garden hose to spray the brick walls and then check for damage to the bricks or mortar and check for signs of mold or mildew. If mold, mildew or efflorescence (the growth of salt crystals) is evident on the bricks or mortar, use a stiff brush to clean the area. If the brush and water does not work, use a commercial cleaning agent but be sure to follow the directions to avoid damage to your home.
If you do find that the mortar or bricks are damaged, crumbling or missing, you must repair the area quickly in order to avoid further damage to the surrounding bricks. It is not difficult to repair brick and mortar damage; however, you do want to make sure you have the proper equipment and supplies. If you do find damage to the exterior bricks or mortar of your home, see my article about how to repair bricks and mortar for more detailed tips for making repairs.