What Causes Mortar Cracking? (And How You Can Fix It)

What Causes Mortar Cracking? (And How You Can Fix It)

Most exterior brick surfaces experience mortar cracking over time. Some cracks are relatively minor, while others are signs of more serious home repairs. How can you tell the difference? By understanding what causes mortar cracks and having the issues addressed promptly. Let’s take a look at how Michigan’s climate and soil structure impact masonry around your home.

Common Causes of Mortar Cracks in Michigan

Expanding and contracting are the biggest contributors to mortar cracks. This could be the bricks around the mortar or the soil beneath the structure. Michigan homes experience these issues more than some other parts of the country due to the wide temperature ranges and climate changes in the area.

Potential sources of mortar cracks include:

  • Freeze-thaw cycles that cause the bricks and soil to expand/contract
  • Foundation shifting and settling
  • Erosion from precipitation
  • Aging mortar that has started to crumble over time
  • Improper construction or substrate
  • Temperature changes, particularly for walls that are subject to direct sun exposure

You may notice some of your doors or windows sticking as the weather changes. This is because of freezing/thawing soil, as well as the expansion and contraction of your home’s construction materials. Brick and mortar goes through the same cycle. You just don’t notice it as much because you’re not actively interacting with the brick. Mortar cracks resulting from these cycles can be easily repaired, depending on the extent of the cracking.

Are Mortar Cracks Signs of Foundation Issues?

Mortar cracks could be a sign of foundation issues, but that is not always the case. You can get a professional brick inspection to determine if the cracks are from aging and minor shifts, or if they are from a more significant foundation problem. If the cracking is foundation related, you’d need to complete your foundation repair before fixing the mortar cracks. Otherwise, the cracks would continue to form because the root cause was not resolved.

How to Repair Cracked Mortar – An Important Step in Brick Maintenance

If the mortar cracks are from general wear and tear, you can repair them through a process called tuckpointing. Tuckpointing involves removing the outer layer of mortar and replacing it with new, color-matched mortar. This boosts the structural integrity of the brickwork and eliminates visible mortar cracking.

Tuckpointing is one of several brick maintenance services we recommend to restore your brickwork and protect it for the future. If you’re interested in mortar crack repair, brick repair, or other masonry repair services, contact Mortar City Masonry at (586) 533-1305. We specialize in precision brick restoration, and we have 20+ years of experience backing our work. Reach out today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.