How to maintain a brick home

Any residential landlord should know the value of maintaining an attractive exterior to their property. It is a well known fact that kerb appeal applies equally to tenants as it does to homeowners. A landlord should strive to keep his property looking attractive by inspecting it regularly, and by covering the shell of the building in his residential landlord insurance he will be sure upkeep is always possible.

As hard as bricks

Brick is one of the most durable of all the products that can be used on a properties exterior. The ancient Romans built their roads from brick and some of them are still in use today. Even the wolf could not blow down the brick house in the fairy tale “the three little pigs”. Brick can also be recycled whenever older buildings are knocked down. Anyone who owns a brick property will know that they have a home that is energy efficient, aesthetically appealing and will also have an excellent resale value. As long as the property owner carries out a yearly inspection to check for any wear and tear, the brick home will outlast many owners.

Clean and tidy, beware of ivy

All homes with property insurance should have an annual inspection and brick properties are no exception. The most damage comes not from the brick itself, but the mortar which has been used to hold the bricks together. Give the bricks a hosing down and check for any crumbling mortar as well as mould, mildew and moss. Use a synthetic scrub brush with a mix of bleach and water and this will remove almost all of the growth. Check for vines and any other plant growth. Vines such as ivy look good on the front of some brick houses, but they can be extremely damaging, as they stick to the face of the bricks and erode them. The best way to fix this problem is cut the vines close to the root and let them fall off the house naturally.

Another important check is to make sure all the weep holes are clean. These small openings at the base of the bricks are there to act as a device which allows moisture from the wall to drain to the outside. These weep holes will very occasionally get clogged up and if they are not cleaned they will cause water damage. Check for signs of efflorescence which is a gradual growth of salt crystals from the brick which show the surface of the brick when water penetrates them. It looks like a chalky deposit and can be very easily cleaned with a stiff brush.

Repair at the first sign of decay

Always repair any crumbling mortar as soon as it is noticed by first cleaning the affected bricks thoroughly. Next gently chip out the bad mortar using a chisel, then mix and apply the new mortar. Finish the job by using a pointing tool to form a shallow depression in the mortar. Replace damaged bricks by chiselling out the mortar that surrounds it and remove the brick. Clean the opening and dampen with water or a bonding agent. Mix and spread new mortar to the bottom of the opening. Lay a new brick and mortar the sides and top. Finish the new joints by running your finger lightly over the new mortar and clean off any residue.

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