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Well, I continue on my quest to get this house in order. I climbed up on a ladder yesterday to clear some leaves from a gutter and was surprised at what I saw over a window.

Following Mr. Kibbel's instructions (Step 1: Learn the proper name of building materials) I decided that there was a very large gap above the lintel. You can't see it in the photo, but if you look closely through the gap I see the blue foam board I assume the house was covered with before the brick went up.

So, three questions:

1. Shouldn't this gap be filled with something? (I think yes)

2. What should it be filled with? (My first reaction is caulk)

3. Should there be weep holes around these windows somewhere?

Lintel.jpg

WindowTop.jpg

WindowBottom.jpg

This one is typical for all the windows in the house.

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In my area those gaps are filled with either mortar or sealant. I'd be more concerned about the near-level brick sills, especially if there was a gap between the sills and the window for the rainwater to get behind the veneer.

Marc

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Ditto what Marc said.

Concerning weep holes, from the shadow line it appears that the area above the window is pretty well protected by the roof overhang which would all but negate the need for weeps above the window, most of your water entry will take place at the window so the weeps need to be functioning at the area below the window.

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Although it is not necessarily true 100% of the time, when looking at a home and you are presented with a clue, it is reasonable to believe that what is done in one location is usually the way it has been done throughout.

When I magnify the photo of the top of the window, I see what I recognize to be the perforated flanges at the top of the window frame. Nailing (I prefer screwing) through these holes is how the window is attached to the sheathing (structure). In this case, there are nails/screws missing (not a good sign). Additionally, after attaching these flanges, the flanges (on all 4 sides) should be properly flashed/sealed in. I don't see any flashing on the top of the frame, and will assume since there is none there; chances are the flashing is missing on the other 3 sides too.

The flange detail tells me this is brick veneer.

As far as your question regarding weep holes; yes; with brick veneer there should be weep holes above the lintels, but there should also be "through wall" flashing that extends from the sheathing to atmosphere, below/under the brick (with weep holes). There should also be the same detail at the bottom of the system (above the snow line) too, bridging the air gap, and the air gap below the lower weep holes should be filled in. This ensures that any water/condensation that drains down the air gap is directed to atmosphere. Weep holes without through wall flashing are nice to see, but are as useful as breasts on a bull and confirm nothing.

There should also be an internal moisture barrier. With flashing (when present) protecting the inside of the structure. Through wall flashing should be sealed into/under the internal moisture barrier.

Regarding the voids behind/under the lintel, yes they should be sealed since this is a likely place for wind driven rain to get behind the system.

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Since I'm not in an official capacity as a contracted HI, I've a little more liberty at my disposal. That was a big photo you posted and that allowed me to zoom in for more detail. There is sealant there though I don't know if it's intact throughout. I didn't see any weep holes in the photo and if VA bricklayers are anything like LA, they dropped globs of mortar behind the veneer, plugging any weeps that might be there.

If I were a contracted HI, I'd be recommending removal of all brickwork below the windows but only for the width of the windows. Remove all mortar that may have fallen behind it. Inspect for proper flashing installation between the slab and the veneer then re-install the brick. Consider the use of stone or cast concrete sills. All work should be compliant with BIA guidelines.

But...I'm not your contracted HI so just watch for signs of water intrusion below the windows from the inside of the house. If you ever see as much as a single sign of mold or elevated moisture below a window that has brick veneer on the outside, complete the procedure outlined in the previous paragraph for all windows with brick veneer exteriors.

This is just me. Opinions will vary.

Marc

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I hope you don't hate us for it.

Marc

Nope, I come here for the wealth of knowledge folks provide.

As it appears my window have more issues than I thought, are there solutions that don't require tearing the house down?

When you ask about a "solution", well to me you are asking if there is a way to "fix" the deficiency.

I know of no way to "fix" the problem better than if it was done properly to begin with. But since so many homes are built with deficiencies, and since it is unrealistic to think that every home with a deficiency is going to be torn down and rebuilt, lets talk reality.

First let me say that there are many homes with many different deficiencies that are still standing, so just because something is wrong it is not guaranteed to fail. Just like if something is "right" it may still fail. For this reason there are times that simply being built to code is not enough. Code is a starting point. Sometimes more than code is needed to resolve a problem.

Water diversion (protecting against water intrusion) is an art of redundancy.

Also, when you are trying to resolve a deficiency such as this, and you try what is possible/realistic; there is no guarantee it will be a success or a complete success. You simply try your best to deal with and maintain.

If I was advising a client, after explaining that there is no guarantee, I would explain that a brick veneer system is a drainage system. Since the "internal" drainage system is not there, the only thing I can think of (and there is more than 1 way to skin a cat) is to treat it like a barrier system. Which means to stop the water from getting in. By the way, you would be amazed how much water is absorbed into/through brick veneer. This can be demonstrated with RILEM testing.

I would go on to recommend that the brick veneer be sealed with a liquid moisture barrier that is capable of keeping water on the outside from getting in and will allow vapor on the inside to dry out. I usually like to test (RILEM) both before and after the application of the liquid sealant.

I would also PROPERLY seal any and all penetrations with a proper sealant. That is NOT mortar. The perimeters of ALL your windows need to be sealed. From your pictures I can see they are all wrong. Look for any locations where water can enter. Remember, water does not always flow downhill.

Finally, I would also seal all window and door frame corners/miters. This has to be done correctly by removing the bottom portion of the slide track, sealing the wood (if any) and the sealing the joint. You would be surprised how many window frames leak in this location. Even factory sealed window frames.

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Moisture barriers are not all created equal. Beware the generic moisture barrier/sealant recommendation.

Caulk everything. "Proper" was mentioned earlier. Read up on what proper means before you turn a mope loose on your property with a case of caulk.

Find someone to determine if there's water in the wall. The installation is wrong on every level, so you got a reasonable probability there's water. Maybe not; as stated previously, sometimes things can be wrong and still work.

If there's water in there, you need some more specialized repairs than just caulk. A big chunk of our business if repairing screwed up masonry. You're not going to rebuild the house; no one does. Each job needs custom solutions, usually using sheet metal in various forms.

IF there's water in the wall, come back, I'll give you some options. You might want to do a preemptive search for a CNC sheet metal shop and some skilled installers. Avoid folks describing themselves as a tin knocker.

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