A clay brick foundation can be beautiful, but if the bricks start cracking, your foundation won't look as nice. Luckily, there are multiple steps you can take to avoid cracks. From buying materials to installation to maintaining your foundation, here are some tips to help you:
1. Choose a Quality Brick Maker
It's critical to start with quality bricks, and if your contractor is purveying the bricks for you, you may want to ask about the brick supplier. There are a number of steps in the brick manufacturing process, that if handled incorrectly, may lead to cracks.
For instance, if the bricks are heated too quickly or dried too slowly, cracks may appear. Similarly, if the ingredients aren't mixed thoroughly, some parts of the brick may be drier than others, and that too can lead to cracks.
2. Use Expansion Gaps
Clay bricks naturally expand the first few months after you start to use them. The expansion will cause cracks if you're not prepared. Talk with your contractor or mason, and make sure that they are going to add expansion joints to the bricks.
Typically, expansion joints consist of small openings, spaced throughout the brick foundation. Each opening has a foam-like material and a bit of caulk put into it. That keeps out the rain, but as the bricks expand, the expansion joints get pushed together and the foam plugs get pushed out.
3. Bond New Masonry Well
If you are adding onto your foundation, you have to make sure to adequately bond the new masonry to the existing wall. Also, make sure that the new bricks are joined to the structural supports of that part of the house.
4. Control Storm Runoff
Once the wall is in place, clay brick doesn't expand or contract as much as concrete. As a result, you don't have to worry about cracks as much as you do with other types of foundations.
However, excess water may lead to cracks. To ensure that stormwater doesn't saturate your foundation, control your runoff. Make sure that your yard is graded to encourage water to roll away from the house, and use downspouts and in-ground drains as needed.
5. Watch Out for Roots
Roots can also affect your brick foundation. Make sure to not plant any large trees right next to the foundation, and if one of the existing trees is threatening the foundation, contact a tree specialist. They can set up a barrier or potentially trim the root system.
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