Is Cracked Brick Always a Foundation Issue?

Marwa Hasan
Written by Marwa Hasan
Updated June 25, 2021
closeup of home exterior with brick walls, green front door, and two windows on either side, as well as plants around doorway
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Some cracks in brick walls are more serious than others, but they are usually not hard to fix

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If you love the look of your cozy brick home, it could frighten you to see cracks start to appear. Brick homes have pros and cons, with cracks definitely being one of the cons. 

However, as scary as they can look, some cracks are nothing to freak out over. With a little know-how, you can identify cracks on the walls and learn which of them poses a structural issue and how to best move forward to fix them.

What Causes a Brick Crack and How Can It Be Repaired?

Bricks are made of compressed baked clay with inflexible properties. As a result, they're more likely to crack when your house settles or due to external factors. Brick walls with small cracks are common and typically harmless. However, large brick cracks in the exterior of your house can indicate a foundation issue. 

But what causes the brick to crack in the first place?

Shifting Soil

Different soil conditions can cause foundation shifting, leading the bricks to crack. Things like freezing and thawing and moisture in the soil usually cause wall cracks that can be easily fixed.


Rainwater, leaking pipes, and blocked gutters can damage the brick walls and foundation if exposed to water constantly. This requires repairing the leaking source and the cracks before they turn into something serious.


If construction work is going on near your house, the constant vibration of heavy machinery can affect your home's foundation and brick walls. These can be serious, so if you’re noticing cracks in your walls that weren’t there before, contact local officials ASAP.

Different Types of Cracks in Brick

There are different types of cracks in brick walls, which can be defined by their location, depth, and appearance. 

Small Brick Walls Exterior Cracks

Small cracks in the brick exterior walls (think one-sixteenth of an inch hairline cracks) are usually not a cause for worry. They tend to be cosmetic cracks caused by exposure to extreme conditions. 

Small brick cracks are often easily repaired; however, when neglected, cosmetic cracks can turn into structural issues with time. The cost to repair a brick wall is relatively small compared to larger structural issues, so be sure to keep up with tending to these small imperfections.

Vertical Crack In Brick Walls

Vertical brick splitting in mortar joints is sometimes caused by warmer weather when bricks expand and shrink. 

However, if you see wall cracks in your indoor brick walls, this could also mean breaks in the foundation. Be sure to monitor any gaps you see in your brick wall and monitor if the cracks are getting bigger or if they're growing in number.

home garage with brick exterior and white garage door
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Horizontal Crack in Brick Exterior

Long horizontal brick outdoor cracks can indicate a structural problem due to movement in the soil or deterioration of the material, especially in older homes if not properly maintained—to ease off the brick cracking, you need to learn about brick wall maintenance.

When you see long horizontal cracks, you need to consult a pro because this is a serious problem that needs to be repaired ASAP.

Stair-Step Crack in Brick Exterior

Stair-step cracks in your exterior brick wall generally mean that your house foundation is settling and sinking into the ground. Other signs like cracks in the drywall, doors or windows that are starting to warp, or floors that are inclined to slopes, warrant a closer look. If any of those additional signs appear, you need to call a local foundation professional as soon as possible.  

Brick Veneer Cracks

Brick veneer tends to crack due to weather conditions when the brick and mortar joints expand and shrink. Brick veneer cracks are likely to become bigger over time, leading to serious structural damage.

Other Brick Cracks

If the cracks you see don't follow any of the types mentioned above, you may need cosmetic brick repair. A local brick or masonry pro will be able to help you get everything looking as good as new again. 

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