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Funky Brick Veneer Failure

Chad Fabry

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The brick veneer is pulling away from the house below the window on the left. That's a pretty common failure. What's not common is the sill soldiers are broken below both sides of the window. The same condition exists under both sides and the center mullion of the window below the porch roof.

It sure seems like the window framing and veneer have become de facto load bearing components.

There is no overt sign of structural movement inside. Doors closed square, floors felt flat, walls looked plumb. I couldn't test the casement windows because they're 30-year-old builder grade windows and all the hardware was stripped or broken.  




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There's a few odd junctures at the left in the middle photo...between veneer and plywood siding.  Usually the veneer protrudes more than the siding.  I wonder if that has something to do with the issue.  I can't quite figure out the framing there.

I know it's moot now but I'd have pushed on the window frame and veneer to see if either yielded a little.  It might discern whether framing/window or veneer is at fault.

I've had some mid-80's homes with wood windows that were rotted because of the 'tree farm' variety wood that was on the market at that time.

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1 hour ago, mjr6550 said:

I have seen similar failures that occurred when a suitable gap was not left below the windows. As the framing shrinks the window sill presses down on the brick veneer. This sometimes causes the sills to crush and other times displaces the brick. 

I've seen that as well. In severe cases, it results in a depression that allows water to funnel into the wall. 

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8 hours ago, Rob Amaral said:

Did you check any accessible-visible lumber grade-stamps??    S-GRN lumber (surfaced in 'green' state) may have been used for the framing???   

Zero exposed lumber, but that said, you can't buy anything but rough sawn or kiln dried around here for 50 years or more.

I'm having a hard time with the tight framing and shrinkage theory for that reason. There's been at least 1/2 inch of vertical movement to cause the brick breaks and windowsill deflection. 

I'm pretty sure the buyer is going to walk so I'll probably never know the cause. If she buys the house, I'll follow through when she replaces all the windows.  

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3 hours ago, John Kogel said:

It looks like the 'masons' forgot to tie the veneer to the frame with brick ties.

There is more of that up on the dormer.

People should stop liking brick veneer on their wooden houses. Much better off with Hardie plank and paint.   :-)

Brick is nice to have in hurricane country when 120 mph winds start throwing tree limbs, pieces of houses and trash cans at your house.

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I worked for a mason in the 80s. The only thing consistently done right was a WRB. No flashing, no weeps. When there were ties they were nailed to the sheathing rather than the studs. Rowlocks were either too long or too short and never had proper clearance, let alone backer rod and caulk.

I would bet the veneer issues are all related to poor installation. The windows are shot because they are 15 years or more beyond their 20 year service life. 

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43 minutes ago, Tom Raymond said:

Actually, after a closer look those appear to be LP clad wood windows. Probably more like 20 years past a 15 year service life. 

I couldn't identify the windows. No markings except for date codes (88), aluminum clad wood with crappy operating mechanisms. Roughly half had broken seals, almost all had broken crank assemblies. I got one open and started sweating when I couldn't get it closed.

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