Brick issues

This house has brick veneer with 2 issues. The brick has several areas of cracks. I do not see a pattern other than they are just in different areas. What causes the cracks?

The second issue is the discolored brick. There are a few areas of what appears to be spalled brick, that is discolored. I do not see any signs of moisture on the interior or exterior, but I can’t see behind the finished walls.
Why the discoloration?

Looks like factory defects, I think a similar thread was on here about 6 months ago

Looks like normal cracks in the bricks from shrinkage when they are fired and the discolored ones looks like what happens when the impurities burn off in the firing process as well.

Thanks for the answers guys. Doug, thanks for the link. I think I will just recommend that they have the brick layer take a look since he has to repair the chimney anyway.

The “discoloration” is an aesthetic issue. For me, it would be beyond the scope of a home inspection.

Those defects are minor compared to my find…

I think you are correct, David!!


Older, “Chicago common brick”, most probably reused after being salvaged.

The problem is that this old brick was orginally installed using lime putty mortar and not the now standard N type portland cement mortar.

The problem is that N type mortar, especially when the masons add sand, is really absorbent to moisture. The water gets wicked into the mortar joint and passes behind the brick. During drying (in the winter) this moisture comes back out, through the brick, and you get spalling and flacking. For this older brick, they should use a lime putty or lime based mortar.

You see it, alot, when you have an older building (1920 or older) where they re-built the parapet walls. They use N type mortar and the repair disintigrates in about 5 - 7 years.

Hope this helps;

This house was built in 1976. How can you tell this is the “Chicago common brick”? Most of the defect is located on the North side of the house, I remember something about the North side will dry out last after rains. Is the fix for this to use lime putty or based mortar when the bricks are replaced?

In that case, please disregard my prior comments. This looked like an older house. In this case, the brick was cheap.

Hope this helps;

Will, I got a better answer. Cheap brick and the lack of weep holes and wicks. I think that moisture is being trapped in the wall between the Brick veneer and the CMU. Also, without the weep holes the pressure rises in the cavity and forces the water towards the exterior, causing freeze/thaw cycles and spalling and cracking. Just a hypothesis.

So this is a brick veneer, masonry structure house? Indeed! You need flashing and weep wicks.