Cracked bricks aren’t the only reason for a brick replacement. As discussed in our previous blog, dirty or rusty wall ties and debris in wall cavity mean that your bricks must be removed and cleaned or replaced. Bricks might need to be removed for inspection – to check whether there is rubbish and debris in your wall cavity or wall ties. Whether your brick is cracked or needs to be removed due to inspection of debris and rubbish in your wall cavity/wall ties, the main symptom of external brick problems is dampness within your home. To eliminate this, follow our guide our call a professional.
If there is a crack across several bricks, or there are more than one bricks that needs to be removed as a result of debris, you must seek professional advice.
Finding the correct size and type of replacement brick
Your replacement brick should match the rest of the wall – particularly inside your home. Even if you’re not bothered about your bricks matching, your potential buyers will be if you ever choose to sell your property. The ease of getting a hold of a replacement depends on your house’s brickworks age and manufacturers. If your property is relatively new (built in the last 1 – 15 years), it should be easy for you to find a replacement from a builder’s merchant. For older properties, finding a replacement proves trickier. You should try reclamation yards or brick suppliers in the local area in which they were originally manufactured.
If you’re still struggling, help is out there. Professional brick companies might be able to help in identifying and supplying unique bricks.
Matching mortar colours
Brick and mortar that doesn’t match the colour of the rest of the bricks will stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re unbothered by this, buyers of your house might not be if you ever decide to sell your house. Don’t allow your house value to decrease by failing to match your mortar and bricks to its original colour. The colour of your sand and cement will determine the overall colour of your mortar. Matching your mortar and bricks involves a tricky, sometimes tiresome process of trial and error. You must keep mixing different types and colours of sand and cement until the desired result. Being a difficult job, you might need to call a professional for help.
Remove the brick
Having found a replacement brick and mixed the mortar until it’s a satisfactory colour, you can begin. Firstly, your replacement brick must be prepared.
STEP 1: Prep the replacement brick
Fill a bucket halfway with water. Place the replacement brick in the bucket, ensuring that it is fully submerged. This ensures that the surrounding bricks don’t suck all the moisture from the mortar too fast when your new mortar is applied. Failing to wet the replacement brick may result in the brick not adhereing and thus, causing it to become loose. However, this is just a precautionary step. In most cases, there will be enough moisture – but it’s best not to take that chance.
STEP 2: Drill out old mortar
Begin by wearing safety goggles. Keep them on throughout the next processes. Drilling and chiselling bricks might cause shards to fly in different directions – including the direction of your eyes. Gloves and overalls might come in handy, too. For drilling out the mortar, you need to use a drill that it at least 800W. For this spec, a 8mm drill can be used. If the drill is less than 800W, smaller drills should be used – around 6 – 7mm will prevent putting too much strain on the drill. Drill out old mortar around the brick, bunching holes up as close as you can. Drill all the way around the outside until you get to the place you started.
To avoid damage, be careful not to drill too close to surrounding bricks. We suggest that only a drill is used. If you do not acquire the tools or don’t feel confident enough, call a professional. The damage that could be risked when unsure is not worth the price.
STEP 3: Removing the brick
Remove in one piece: Take a hammer and a 2 – 3 inch bolster or a cold chisel. Start knocking out the mortar surrounding it, beginning with the sides, then the bottom and finally the top. You might need to use a plugging chisel for tighter areas. Once the mortar has been removed, the brick should be loose. Wiggle around and jiggle it from side-to-side it to loosen it more, pulling it forwards until it comes out.
If you’re aim was to clean the brick of debris and mortar, you’re now able to. If you’re investigating the cleanliness of your wall cavity or wall tie, take a look in the gap where the brick was with a light. Remove any debris, rubbish or mortar and your damp issues should disappear. If you’re still struggling to see and need to remove more bricks, a professional will need to be consulted. Our brick specialists can help.
Remove by breaking it up: If you’re replacing the brick, it’s easier to break it up. Drill the brick full of holes – across the whole brick. Drill as many holes into the mortar as possible. During the process of drilling the brick, keep the holes as close together as possible. Next, holding your bolster at a rough 35 – 40 degree angle, begin hammering. Work your way across the brick, moving through layers until larger sections begin to come away. Take your time to prevent accidents and damage. As parts of the brick breaks away, sweep them to the outside to make sure that they don’t fall into the cavity.
Once the brick has been removed, use the hammer and bolster to chip off all of the remaining mortar from inside the hole. Use a small hand brush to thoroughly sweep away any remaining dust and debris.
STEP 4: Lay the mortar
Before beginning the laying of mortar, wet all the brick faces on the inside of the hole. Use a rose sprayer or paintbrush dipped in water, getting the edges wet. The brick faces must be wet to prevent them from sucking moisture out of the mortar mix, and causing it to dry out too quickly. Mix up a batch of mortar to a consistency of 1:5:2 (1 cement to 5 soft sand to 2 lime). If you’re not using lime, use a mix of 5:1. With your mix ready, lay a decent bed of the mortar on the base of the hole with a pointing trowel. Ensure that the entire top of the brick is covered. Now that the base is prepared, move onto the sides with a trowel.
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How to remove and replace a brick
Not only are cracked bricks and mortar joints bad for aesthetics, but also for your home. Damaged or cracked bricks will provoke damp and consequently mould issues within your home, urging you to replace them as soon as possible. As found in our last article, cracked bricks let water and moisture in, thus causing damp problems (find out more here). Cold, unwelcoming and dreary; damp issues make your house feel less like home. Cracked bricks don’t just let water and mould in, but also pests and insects if they’re wide enough! Once you discover a crack in your bricks, we strongly urge you to call a professional. However, you’re feeling brave enough and acquire the tools, we have devised together a guide to removing and replacing your bricks. If you’ve got what it takes, keep on reading.