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Fall Inspection of Your Historic Brick Home: A Homeowner's Checklist

Oct 12, 2023 8:30:00 AM Christina Wilson

When it comes to the cyclical beauty of the seasons, autumn certainly holds its own. Offering a dazzling display of brilliant reds, oranges and golds, it brings bountiful harvests and cozy knit sweaters. With the temperatures dipping and nature putting on one of its best shows, most people want to make the most of the cool, clear days, and home inspections may be the furthest thing from their minds. However, taking stock of your historic home’s condition is essential before winter sets in. Set yourself a reminder to accomplish the important task of doing a general fall inspection of your historic brick home with this handy homeowner’s checklist.

Check Your Walkways and Front Steps

Constant foot traffic exposes brick and mortar to extra wear and tear, leading to chips and cracks. As water infiltrates these crevices, bricks can shift, sink or crumble, leading to uneven surfaces and tripping hazards. Once winter sets in, the water in those chips and cracks will freeze and thaw with the temperatures, exacerbating existing problems. Take the time to look for pooling water or other drainage issues, chipped or cracked brick, and missing or crumbling mortar. If you recognize any of these issues, arrange a repair before the winter comes to ensure your brick walkways and front steps are level, enabling you to avoid further damage.

Clean Your Patio and Check Your Retaining Walls

A brick patio is a beautiful and long-lasting addition to any historic home. But just like your walkways, a brick patio can deteriorate. You’ll want to check it for the same signs of damage as your walkways and stairs, clearing away any debris from your urban garden so you don’t overlook anything. Look closely near your plantings to ensure roots aren’t causing any problems, such as breaking through the brick and creating an uneven surface.

Retaining walls provide true structural support but if left unchecked, can quickly deteriorate and put other structures at risk. Crumbling brick, missing mortar, bulging and leaning all indicate problems that should be addressed before the freeze-thaw cycle starts. Determine if current or previous drainage issues damaged the retaining wall and inspect it closely for errant tree roots that could be forcing your retaining wall askew.

Clean Out Your Gutters

With water being one of the main culprits in brick damage, keeping your drainage systems functioning correctly is essential to maintaining the integrity of your historic home. Work your way upwards from the downspout, removing leaves as you go. Once the leaves are removed, spray the system with water, ensuring it flows freely away from your home. Use this time to check and repair any leaks in the gutters as well.  If you are not comfortable working on ladders, contacting an experienced professional at a gutter cleaning company is the safest option for this fall priority.

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning

Chimney cleaning is often overlooked as a method of historic brick preservation. Still, it is just as crucial for the structural integrity of your home as it is for your safety. Beyond this interior cleaning, your chimney sweep will assess the chimney for damaged brick and mortar. Chimneys are notorious for spalling, as the heat from the interior increases the freeze-thaw effect, causing bricks to split, crack and even pop off. If deteriorating brick or mortar is discovered, a historic brick expert can correct the defects and keep your chimney safe and leak-free.

Hire a Historic Brick Expert for Trusted Repairs

Preserving your historic brick home's integrity means recognizing the importance of frequent inspections, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your enjoyment of the changing seasons. Knowing what to look for and engaging professionals to perform maintenance can save you time and money. Working with a historic brick specialist can help you prioritize repairs and prevent further problems, ensuring your historic brick home will withstand many winters to come.


Contact Renaissance Development when you're ready for a comprehensive site evaluation or for any other advice you may need regarding your historic brick home. Working with our expert team upon completion of the evaluation, you'll be able to make informed decisions about renovations and repairs, while preserving the historic integrity of your old brick home in DC.

Download Guide to Renovating Your Historic DC Home

Categories: Repair, Restoration, Renovation, Retaining walls, Exterior brick, Tuckpointing job, chimney inspection, preventive maintenance, old brick, brick steps, Home Inspection, Old Brick Home Inspection, causes of spalling, crumbling brick, tuckpointing, historic brick home, historic brick, Historic Brick Home DC, Old Brick Home in DC, Retaining Walls DC, Historic Homes DC, Old Brick Home Site Evaluation, Old Brick Home Inspection DC

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