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John Dirks Jr

brick veneer issues

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I'm canning comments for lack of weeps/wicks and through wall flashings on brick veneer. I'll also do one for lack of proper pitch on rowlocks at window sills.

I would like to make my comments more informative and directive if possible rather than making them simply a way to sluff liability.

So it goes like this;

There's lack of proper weepholes in the brick veneer at the *. This condition can lead to hidden water damage to the buildings materials. Have a qualified contractor ............

What?

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I'm canning comments for lack of weeps/wicks and through wall flashings on brick veneer. I'll also do one for lack of proper pitch on rowlocks at window sills.

I would like to make my comments more informative and directive if possible rather than making them simply a way to sluff liability.

So it goes like this;

There's lack of proper weepholes in the brick veneer at the *. This condition can lead to hidden water damage to the buildings materials. Have a qualified contractor ............

What?

I'd begin: "Weep holes, which in conjunction with properly installed flashing, permit moisture to drain out from behind the masonry, are not present. Adding weeps now, due to the lack of flashing, will not be effective. Maintain flashings and the roof to minimize the possibility of moisture behind the masonry."

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I guess I should, but I don't write up the lack of weeps - cuz what are they going to do, rip off the veneer and start over. I'm sure I'll get blasted by some of you for this - but that's the way it is in my little world. Maybe I should just include an informative statement such as "there are no visible weepholes in the bottom of the brick veneer. Weepholes are for..... and are a standard building practive in many parts of the country..."

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I heard that lawsuits are heating up over stuff like this. If I don't see what should be there, I think its best for me and my client that I report on it.

I understand the whole "whatta ya gonna do about it now" attitude.

But still, I really want to write it up. I'm hoping to find a decent way to inform, direct and protect.

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That's why I write it as I did. There's no point in sending folks off to someone else to tell them nothing can be done. Weeps without flashing are useless. Little more than an air vent, which through convection may offer a bit of drying.

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I guess I should, but I don't write up the lack of weeps - cuz what are they going to do, rip off the veneer and start over. I'm sure I'll get blasted by some of you for this - but that's the way it is in my little world. Maybe I should just include an informative statement such as "there are no visible weepholes in the bottom of the brick veneer. Weepholes are for..... and are a standard building practive in many parts of the country..."

I agree with Mark that there isn't a justified solution to the problem, but I do write it up anyway as well as why weeps are important. I don't want the client to come back later and say 'you missed this'.

Marc

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We see weeps in approx 1/10th of 1% or never +-. Never seen extensive damage as a result of water behind veneer that did not drain.

there are regional differences.

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We see weeps in approx 1/10th of 1% or never +-. Never seen extensive damage as a result of water behind veneer that did not drain.

there are regional differences.

That's always been my take on it too.

It seems like every now and then someone will make a big deal about them at one of the HI Seminars, but I've never seen any major damage from the lack of them either.

The only time I ever mention them missing is in newer construction, since they're now required.

It's difficult to imagine very many scenarios where significant moisture is going to end up behind masonry unless you neglect sealants, flashing and the roof.

As far as wind driven rain - Here's the bottom line: Water is not going through four inches of brick except under two conditions:

1. The brick were excessively porous, which was a problem in the 70's for a while.

2. If the mason didn't use full head and bed joints. (Now, that I've seen - especially when a mason just puts just a little dab of mortar on the front and back of the brick for a head joint - oh yeah - the system will leak badly. But if brick is properly installed, with full head and bed joints, water isn't going to make it through in significant quantities.)

As a side note, concrete block (and espectially split-faced block) are considerably more porous, and water WILL soak through them, as Kurt has already documented. Splif-faced block don't have any form of finish on them so they're especially bad. When concrete block are made, the form is vibrated, just after the mix is poured in, to cause cement to press against the surface of the form. That is why the outer surface is slightly more dense than the balance of the block. The vibration does essentially the same thing that tooling ("striking") mortar joints does - seal the surface some to impede moisture intrusion. Split-faced block are literally that. A form is made up that makes one large unit that is split into two seperate units. The resulting face is actually raw inner material with no finish against the weather. They're a disaster, and they weren't any fun to install either. They're hard to handle, because they're not balanced. And, the faces are never parallel to the back face, so they really need to be dressed with a chisel like stone, but most masons never bothered. I did.

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No real arguments with any of the above. But . . . this past summer I did a consultation job for a young couple who had mold issues and wet interior walls in a three-year-old house. They later called in an industrial hygenist who pretty much said the house wasn't safe to occupy due to mold within the wall cavities. I'm certain the culprit was the peel-and-stick flashing around the windows, but in my long-winded letter I wrote for the couple, I also mentioned the utter lack of weepholes as one of the likely contributary causes.

End result? The builder bought back the house and his insurance company wrote the young couple a six-figure check. I don't want to get into a debate about lawyers, insurance companies, and our legal system, but you need to at least MENTION missing weepholes, or you might find your ass in a sling similar to the one described above.

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Ok then, how about this?

There's lack of proper weepholes in the brick veneer at the *. This condition can lead to hidden water damage to the buildings materials. The scope of this inspection cannot determine if damage exists. If the possibility of moisture behind the brick veneer concerns you, have a qualified contractor further investigate.

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Ok then, how about this?

There's lack of proper weepholes in the brick veneer at the *. This condition can lead to hidden water damage to the buildings materials. The scope of this inspection cannot determine if damage exists. If the possibility of moisture behind the brick veneer concerns you, have a qualified contractor further investigate.

This is what I use:

"There are no weep holes along the bottom of the brick veneer. Weep holes allow water that has penetrated porous brick and mortar to escape rather than accumulate and eventually enter the wall cavities where it can do harm."

Marc

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Here's damage from blocked weeps in veneer on the house I did yesterday. The one with the falling arches.

They'd piled mulch against the bottom of the wall and water was basically trapped and backing up behind the veneer and then overflowed the flashings and caused the sheathing behind the veneer to rot all along the bottom.

Click to Enlarge
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Click to Enlarge
tn_201125214342_102_0204_00061.jpg

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ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I disagree with everyone, but what's new?

If there's no weepholes, then it's pretty much certain there's no flashing, and even if there is flashing, it's probably not installed correctly.

Do not imagine for even one teeny second that because there are no visible problems, no problems exist. I have seen problems that you could have never convinced me 10 years ago would be problems. I have seen unbelievable stuff in the walls where there was not one little thing that would indicate there was water in the wall.

One of the problems was something I was called in to figure out; thank gawd I wasn't the guy doing the inspection, because it looked (almost) perfectly fine. The couple couldn't figure out why their phone system kept shorting out, and the lights would flicker. Guess what?

The walls were full of water. Full. Like, so full, when I cut open some drywall, the insulation hit the floor with a large "sploosh" sound.

There are so many variables that effect masonry performance, it's impossible to provide any coherent advice in an online forum without writing an encyclopedia.

It ain't regional; rain is water, it doesn't change by region, water gets in buildings, and if it's in there, it causes big problems that very often are not visible.

Don't be so sure that you want to be casual about this issue.

And that's all I have to say about that........

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No real arguments with any of the above. But . . . this past summer I did a consultation job for a young couple who had mold issues and wet interior walls in a three-year-old house. They later called in an industrial hygienist who pretty much said the house wasn't safe to occupy due to mold within the wall cavities. I'm certain the culprit was the peel-and-stick flashing around the windows, but in my long-winded letter I wrote for the couple, I also mentioned the utter lack of weep holes as one of the likely contributary causes.

End result? The builder bought back the house and his insurance company wrote the young couple a six-figure check. I don't want to get into a debate about lawyers, insurance companies, and our legal system, but you need to at least MENTION missing weepholes, or you might find your ass in a sling similar to the one described above.

Yesiree, brother John.

It's in the "Yeah, I saw it." category for me. I don't make a huge deal of it, but I mention it - especially when it was required and overlooked.

Most houses around here before 1950 don't have them. After 1950 they were commonplace. With the influx of fereign (that's not a mis-spell, it's a joke) help, they've become less common - kinda like that upside down concrete lintel we all joked about in the Spring. A lot of the recent ills in masonry installations are more a communication problem than anything else. Trabajamos muy difícilmente y hacemos el mejor que podemos, pero sus maneras no son nuestras maneras.

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No, it's a problem of bag mortar from the big box, not cleaning the cavities, not understanding lime, not understanding brick/mortar compatibility, not understanding flashing, not understanding period....etc., etc., etc.

S'got nothing to do with my brothers from Mexico; they're just doing what their moron bosses showed, or didn't show, them.

God Bless my Latino Brothers.....without them, construction would come to a standstill. I've yet to meet even one Latino that, when showed the right way to do something, didn't get a smile on their face and DO IT EXACTLY THE WAY I SHOWED THEM.

My solution to most current social problems is to ship a few million white boys to Mexico, and bring in a a few million Latinos that want to work.

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I disagree with everyone, but what's new?

If there's no weepholes, then it's pretty much certain there's no flashing, and even if there is flashing, it's probably not installed correctly.

Do not imagine for even one teeny second that because there are no visible problems, no problems exist. I have seen problems that you could have never convinced me 10 years ago would be problems. I have seen unbelievable stuff in the walls where there was not one little thing that would indicate there was water in the wall.

One of the problems was something I was called in to figure out; thank gawd I wasn't the guy doing the inspection, because it looked (almost) perfectly fine. The couple couldn't figure out why their phone system kept shorting out, and the lights would flicker. Guess what?

The walls were full of water. Full. Like, so full, when I cut open some drywall, the insulation hit the floor with a large "sploosh" sound.

There are so many variables that effect masonry performance, it's impossible to provide any coherent advice in an online forum without writing an encyclopedia.

It ain't regional; rain is water, it doesn't change by region, water gets in buildings, and if it's in there, it causes big problems that very often are not visible.

Don't be so sure that you want to be casual about this issue.

And that's all I have to say about that........

Last Spring a fellow HI here in the area had a problem like that. He called me for advice. I told him, over the phone, it was a lousy brick veneer installation, just like I described above - skimpy head and bed joints. After the home owner spent a few bucks on an engineer, the HI called me back to inform me the engineer came back with the same conclusion.

If you don't install brick veneer right, it's a gift that will keep on giving forever. Full head and bed joints are critical.

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And baby, it always seems to be about the head joints, doesn't it? I've got an awl that I jam in head joints. About half of them are skimmed, not full.

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I've had the very good fortune to be able to hang around some engineers doing inspections on high profile masonry lawsuits.

You do that a few times, you understand how it isn't as simple as one might imagine. I've been on jobs that, plain and simple, looked perfect, but weren't.

When the Phd's expert witness types start looking @ masonry, it gets scary. There's more to know than what they teach you in home inspector school, that's for sure. Don't pay much attention to the goofs that think this is casual.

It's all casual, until it's not. When it's not, it's ugly.

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Ok then, how about this?

There's lack of proper weepholes in the brick veneer at the *. This condition can lead to hidden water damage to the buildings materials. The scope of this inspection cannot determine if damage exists. If the possibility of moisture behind the brick veneer concerns you, have a qualified contractor further investigate.

This is what I use:

"There are no weep holes along the bottom of the brick veneer. Weep holes allow water that has penetrated porous brick and mortar to escape rather than accumulate and eventually enter the wall cavities where it can do harm."

Marc

That comment is very nice Marc. Now finish it off by making a recommendation. What would your recommendation be?

The reason I started this thread is to come up with a solid general recommendation. Perhaps one that would be appropriate within the context of the limited scope of a home inspection.

Someone??? Anyone???

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And baby, it always seems to be about the head joints, doesn't it? I've got an awl that I jam in head joints. About half of them are skimmed, not full.

They are called the, "Dirty Verts."

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This is what I use:

"There are no weep holes along the bottom of the brick veneer. Weep holes allow water that has penetrated porous brick and mortar to escape rather than accumulate and eventually enter the wall cavities where it can do harm."

Marc

That's the one I like best so far but for my report, I'd make the following revision.

There are no I didn't see any weep holes along the bottom of the brick veneer. Weep holes allow water that has penetrated porous brick and mortar to escape rather than accumulate and eventually enter the wall cavities where it can do harm damage the wall.

Recommendation? For these situations where I know nothing will ever get done about it, I write something like:

"If you're worried that the walls are damaged, you'll have to hire a masonry expert to do some destructive investigation."

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My edits....

...............have a masonry expert to do some destructive investigation. That's the only way you're going to know if there's a problem.

I think it's a mistake to try to come up with standard boilerplate for stuff that's different all the time.

If there's no flashing, wicks, or weeps, there's a possibility for something to be really screwed up. Retrofitting these components is a major expense and highly disruptive.

I've come painfully close to getting royally ****ed by being casual about this stuff, and it wasn't anyone else doing the ****ing...it was me being casual.

Tell folks in as few words as possible that if the components that are necessary for the masonry to function as intended are not present, then there is the possibility for leaks and major problems that are extremely expensive to repair.

The only way for anyone to know if there's a real problem is for someone to look inside the wall. Harsh reality, but that's the gig.

It is established fact and well known in construction litigation that the lack of flashing, weeps, and wicks is a major problem. If someone wants to dispute these known facts, that's their prerogative.

Fools exercise their prerogatives every day. Of course it doesn't happen on every building. That's because every building is different in ways that are not readily apparent.

No one is going to be able to provide that one statement that covers all bases, because no such statement exists. Go ahead and make up some standard statement if you must, but if crap starts getting into the fan, you can find yourself looking really, really dumb.

Please understand that, if nothing else.

I've become accustomed to realtors and sellers thinking I'm a total asshole and idiot because I point out things that anyone in this business should know. On many, many occasions, nothing is wrong, and the realtors and sellers are smug in their conviction that I am "wrong".

Fine. I have learned to not care because there are a few folks, expert witness types, and attorneys that know I've pulled the rabbit out of the hat when no one else thought there was a problem. I'm quite comfortable with the majority of folks thinking I'm an asshole, and a small minority understanding I'm doing the job they hired me to do.

If the wall has to be opened up, I don't recommend anyone else open it up. I tell them to get me clearance and waivers, and I'll open the damn thing up, and I'm going to charge them real money for the experience.

Try being the expert you're trying to refer people to. I've found it's been better in the long run than mouthing platitudes and standardized phrasing.

Back it all up with credible reference material. Bury the morons in reference material fer chrissakes.....

There's a mountain of information out there that says we're right. Use it.

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