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Cracking in Brick Walls: Causes and Solutions

Take a look around your neighborhood. You may see brick homes that look immaculate, as well as some that look like they could use a little TLC. Or maybe your home is one of the latter.

Brick has long been used as a building material because of its strength and aesthetics. However, it is not immune to damage. Cracking in brick walls is common but dangerous if left unattended.

Learn what’s behind these cracks and how local foundation repair experts can help you address them for good.

How to Identify Cracking in Brick Walls

Detecting cracks in brick walls may seem obvious, but they can appear in all shapes and sizes, including:

cracking in exterior brick wall
  • Stair-step cracks
  • Horizontal cracks
  • Vertical cracks
  • Hairline cracks
  • Deep cracks with gaps
  • Cracks on a chimney

What Causes Brick Wall Cracks?

Cracking in brick walls typically stems from underlying foundation issues. When a foundation experiences sinking or settlement, it causes the entire structure of a building to shift, resulting in cracks in the exterior brick walls.

These various factors contribute to foundation problems and brick cracks:

  • Soil Type: Certain soils, especially clay-based soils, expand when wet and shrink when dry. This fluctuation can cause the foundation to move vertically, destabilizing your brick walls.
  • Soil Movement: The ongoing expansion and contraction of the soil under your house can make the foundation sink or shift, pulling apart bricks and mortar and causing cracks. Differential movement can result in stair-step cracking patterns.
  • Extreme Weather: Weather extremes can also stress foundations. Heavy rains can oversaturate the ground, while drought can overly dry it out. Freezing temperatures can also cause ground moisture to expand, exerting pressure on the foundation.
  • Improper Drainage: Water accumulation around the foundation due to inadequate drainage can oversaturate the soil, making it muddy and weak. This often results in the foundation sinking or shifting.
  • Water Pressure: Excessive moisture in the soil can exert hydrostatic pressure on foundation walls, particularly where drainage is poor. This often results in horizontal cracking as the foundation walls struggle to withstand the pressure.
  • Settling and Shifting: All homes naturally settle somewhat over time, but excessive settling due to poor soil conditions or extreme weather can lead to vertical or stair-step cracks as the structure adjusts to foundation movements.
  • Tree Roots: Trees planted too close to the foundation can be problematic as roots draw moisture from the soil, weakening it and potentially causing settlement. Roots can also physically grow into the foundation, creating cracks and structural damage.

Understanding these factors can help you recognize signs of trouble early on.

Additional Signs of Foundation Damage

Cracking in brick walls rarely happens on its own. This issue is often accompanied by other visible symptoms of foundation problems, including:

Professional intervention is important if you notice these signs along with cracks in your brick walls. Addressing foundation issues promptly with a team like Indiana Foundation Service can prevent more significant problems and save on future repair costs.

How to Fix Brick Wall Cracks

While DIY repairs are tempting for quick fixes, they ultimately fail in the long run. You can’t just fill in a crack and call it a day. That’s not going to fix the underlying issues we’ve outlined here.

When you partner with a professional like Indiana Foundation Service, you receive unmatched customer care, attention to detail, and the right solutions tailored to your home’s repair needs. These include:

Foundation Pier Systems

Foundation piers are the most effective way to address foundation settlement. We offer three types of piers—helical, push, and slab. They differ in their appearance and installation, but all permanently reinforce settling foundations by relying on stable soil beneath your home.

These systems utilize metal rods that connect to the foundation and extend into the solid bedrock. By doing so, they stabilize the foundation, preventing movement and redistributing the weight of your home to avoid the formation of cracks. They can also potentially lift your home back towards its original position, possibly helping to close up brick cracks.

Wall Repair Methods

Walls affected by hydrostatic pressure require a different approach. Our wall repair solutions permanently stabilize bowing or shearing basement walls, prevent further movement, and can help improve their conditions, potentially closing cracks.

Wall anchors and channel anchors rely on earth anchors embedded in stable soil away from the foundation. These devices use metal rods connected to interior wall plates to pull bowing basement walls back into place, counteracting the pressure exerted by the surrounding soil.

Our robust wall beams function similarly. They attach to basement walls and are securely anchored to the basement floor and the floor joists above. This forms a rigid framework that maintains wall straightness, reduces existing cracks in brick walls, and helps prevent future ones.

Contact Us Today to Tackle Your Brick Wall Cracks

If you’re concerned about the cracks appearing in your brick walls, don’t hesitate to reach out to Indiana Foundation Service. We’ve been dedicated to helping homeowners across Indiana safeguard the integrity of their foundations for more than 30 years.

Backed by industry-leading solutions and a team of experienced professionals, we’re committed to providing exceptional service and ensuring the safety of your home. Don’t let cracking in brick walls compromise the structural integrity of your property—schedule a free inspection with Indiana Foundation Service today!


Regularly inspect key parts of a building’s structure, such as chimneys, brick, and basement walls, for small cracks that could lead to more significant problems. Address any issues immediately and monitor the building’s safety and stability over time. 

If you see horizontal cracks on a wall, this could mean that the wall is bowing because of too much soil pressure and/or the foundation settling. This means that there is a structural instability that needs foundation repairs. 

Re-grouting the mortar lines won’t stop additional cracking. Resolve the root foundation issues first, then re-grout the bricks. 

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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