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Does Brick Really Need To Weep?

JAY has some advice for those of us who love brick homes. Says JAY, "Everything wants to breath, and eliminate moisture, even the walls of your house! My recommendation:  When you approach a brick-veneered house, have a look around for weep holes.  The house will be happy you did." Read on...

In the olden days the brick siding you saw on houses was structural.  There were two layers of brick, into what was tied structural members.  The brick was structural, the wood was interior. 

Currently the brick siding you see is a facade, sometimes called a "veneer," and the wood interior is the structural part of the house.

Various construction materials combine to create this newer method, but essentially the brick is set off of the wood interior and exterior sheathing, which is all protected by some form of vapor retardation.

The brick is virtually strapped to the house.

As such, moisture develops between the brick and sheathing.  It needs somewhere to go. 

Weep holes are an important part of the construction method to allow air in and moisture out.  An excess of moisture in there can lead to its migration into the interior and when that happens the ultimate result can be molds.

 

This is one form of weep hole.  A section of mortar between the bricks has been intentionally left out.  Other weep holes can include a multiplicity of simple holes, or wicks, plastic inserts, and so on.

Either way, when you look at a brick-sided house, weep holes are an important thing to look for.

Often I don't see them!

Why?  Because they have been diligently eliminated by a home owner who does not understand why that silly brick layer left holes all over his house!  By golly, he wanted to fix that "oversight..." and got right on it!

Homeowner "fixes" I have seen include caulking, mortar, rags, spray polyfoam (which is ALWAYS very attractive) and wax!

The "fixes" look something like this!

This particular house was built in 1972, just after the "new" brick facade siding came into vogue.  As such it had weep holes all around.

And these weep holes were filled all around by some house-savvy homeowner!  This guy chose mortar.

Some of it was cracking and loose so I could tell it had been there a while.

Don't do this!

Everything wants to breath, and eliminate moisture, even the walls of your house!

My recommendation:  When you approach a brick-veneered house, have a look around for weep holes.  The house will be happy you did.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia

www.jaymarinspect.com

 

 

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Comments

JaneAnne...This is good information for folks who own brick homes!  It never fails, everytime we 'contract' a brick spec home, the 'new homeowner to be' points out the weep holes as if that is a defective item that should be on the punch list.  They always ask, "Are you going to fill those holes in the brick?"..... 

Posted by Denise Roberts, e-PRO, REALTOR - Specializing in Pinehurst, NC Area (New Colony Properties, LLC) over 9 years ago

Good Morning janeAnne, excellent post, thanks for putting it back up!

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA (Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA) over 9 years ago

janeAnne,

Jay writes a great blog, and explains details so thoroughly.  It is always a "must read" for me.  This one is no exception.

Good reblog!

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

This is good advice; another bad habit of many homeowners is to add topsoil and mulch above the level of the brick ledge, blocking weep holes and welcoming any insects that might be interested into the building. I should add, however, that one shouldn't make any assumption as to the construction of a brick-walled building based on its age alone. Brick veneer was used over wood in the US at least as far back as the 1860s; I often wonder how deep the brick sides one often sees on early colonial houses are and how they were attached. These owner built houses probably vary a lot in tha respect. I've read of 600 year old brick buildings being torn down in the UK in which a timber framed structure was covered 3 or 4 layers of brick, but I'm not sure if it was possibly to cover a wood building successfully with only 1 wyeth of brick that early. Many pre-1970s brick veneered buildings were built without weep holes, sometimes without any ties either, some held up because the un-insulated walls of that era could sometimes dry from the inside; such buildings would need weep holes added if any attempt were made to insulate them. My 1958 townhouse is brick on cinder block; it has no weep holes and may never need them.

Posted by ToWeepOrNotToWeep about 8 years ago

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