Here in the Chicago land area bricks are used for cladding in a homes exterior 75% of the time. In fact, almost all of the older homes used bricks for the exterior. Some of these homes that were built from 1890-1960 were made solely of bricks. This was the case of the home inspection in Brookfield, Illinois.
Generally, there isn’t any framing on the walls. The bricks are installed to be the structure of the home. They interlace the bricks by changing the course of bricks. This is called “soldiering” or interlacing the courses. You will see a change in pattern of the brick course when this is done.
On older homes, the maintenance is called tuck pointing or pointing. Brick homes seem to need this after 50 years of their build date. In the case of the home inspection in Brookfield the brick was tuck pointed. Then next question was “Is it tuck pointed right?”
There are a couple ways of testing this. The way I test is with a screw driver. I tap the joints in various areas to see if it is solid or hollow. If it is hollow that generally means that the tuck pointing has not been done correctly. An incorrect tuck point job is what I found during this particular home inspection in Brookfield.
The proper way to tuckpoint is to grind all the joints out 1/2 the depth of the brick with a grinder. The right type of mortar is the next crucial step.
What happens if the proper measures aren’t followed? The first thing is that the mortar from the tuckpoiting job will eventually crack and fall out of the joints. The second is related to the first. The brick will be open to water damage because the brick interior is open to the elements. The brick will have the opportunity to take in water and cause the hard coating of the brick to pop. This will definitely shorten the lifespan of the brick. This is what the bricks were like at the home inspection in Brookfield. When you get to this point, portions of bricks will need to be removed and replaced by a brick layer contractor.
It is always better to do home repairs the right way the first time. The second time will always cost you more money!!
If you have tuck pointing issues on your home or a home you are trying to purchase a brick home please contact us with your questions at www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com Jim Kolke
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