Efflorescence appears as a white crystalline substance on the brick’s surface. This phenomenon is quite normal in the first few years after the brick has been laid or following repairs. This is because brick and mortar contain lots of salts that are drawn up and deposited on the surface of the materials as the water they contain evaporates. However, if efflorescence is still present after five years, this means that water is leaking in, allowing salts to build up. This is bad news! You must find where the water is penetrating and restore your exterior wall’s waterproofing.
In theory, mortar joints are expected to last 40 years … but not all joints have to stand up to the same conditions. For example, painting a brick wall will harm the mortar. In spring, go around the building’s perimeter and inspect all the joints to identify any loose or crumbling areas.
Look out for cracks as well! If you decide to have the mortar mended, make sure the mason removes a fair proportion of the old mortar before applying the new or there is a high probability that it won’t adhere properly. Failure to do so will result in a purely cosmetic improvement and not a restoration of your masonry wall’s overall strength.
Keep an eye on your openings, doors, and windows. The lintels (horizontal supports) overtop can weaken. The presence of cracks in this precise area is a clear sign of such an issue. Acting quickly to replace or reinforce the lintels with stop these cracks from spreading upwards, degrading the entire wall.