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Brick Veneer


Brandon Whitmore
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I am having trouble interpreting Oregon's residential building code section R703.7.5 "flashing shall be located beneath the first course of masonry above finished ground level above the foundation wall or slab and at other points of support......" And of course then weep holes are required directly above that flashing every 33" etc.

I just finished inspecting a home in a new subdivision (all homes in the subdivision appear to have been done the same) where the brick veneer support starts well below the base of the foundation. There are no weep holes installed along the base of this wall above grade. Now, since water draining down the back of the veneer wall will not build up against any wall framing and will likely just drain into the ground, are weep holes really that important at this lower section of brick veneer. The brick on this home runs from just beneath the main floor windows to the ground only.

I would like to interpret the code to say that the flashing should be installed at the base of the framed wall (just above the foundation) with weep holes above the flashing every 33" from there. I just can't quite be 100% sure from the wording in the code referenced above.

I will post pics of what I am talking about later, but I am running late for an appointment.

Thanks for any help---- I want to be 100% sure I am making a proper call regarding this improper installation of materials since the entire large subdivision is installed the exact same way. (I won't name builder's, but it is in NW Wilsonville)

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It sounds like you are saying they did not plan for the veneer originally, and added a steel ledge.

In this case , should they not still have added a moisture barrier and weep holes.

You would still need them to get rid of exess build up assuming they did not fill the cavity with dropped morter.

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Bob,

I am not very good at explaining things and was hoping people could somehow read my mind on this. I will post pictures to help explain my concern. Basically, a CMU type footing was installed say 12'' beneath the top of a foundation stem wall and the brick veneer was built up off of that. The current moisture that gets in behind the brick veneer will drain along the back side of the vener (1" cavity type) and run down to the veneer footing/ support where it will likely run into the ground. -- pictures will follow.

By the way, a contractor or the mason then faked weep holes, likely to pass inspection. As you will see from the pictures the holes are drilled 1.5- 2" into the brick from the outer face. I know this set up is a poor installation per building standards, I am just hoping to somehow decipher the building codes enough to say the builder is not in compliance with the building codes. The code is so poorly written that I am having trouble doing so.

Thanks

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

CMU type footing was installed say 12'' beneath the top of a foundation stem wall and the brick veneer was built up off of that. The current moisture that gets in behind the brick veneer will drain along the back side of the vener (1" cavity type) and run down to the veneer footing/ support where it will likely run into the ground.

I doubt it. Most masons that use that detail will completely fill the void behind the below-grade brick with mortar. When they do that, they're supposed to use through-wall flashings and weeps in the first course above grade.

By the way, a contractor or the mason then faked weep holes, likely to pass inspection. As you will see from the pictures the holes are drilled 1.5- 2" into the brick from the outer face. I know this set up is a poor installation per building standards, I am just hoping to somehow decipher the building codes enough to say the builder is not in compliance with the building codes. The code is so poorly written that I am having trouble doing so.

Thanks

It sounds pretty plain to me. Just write it as being wrong, cite the code as the basis for your call, and recommend they have it fixed right away by a competent mason - not the same guy who tried to fake the weeps.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Go to the JLC website, and download the article, "Keeping Water Out of Brick Veneer," by Jerry Carrier. The text and pictures should make things plain. The DL costs about $2 - $3. Worth much more.

There's also a good brick-veneer graphic in CodeCheck; and, the 2000 - 2006 IRC books have cutaway graphics that show the right way to build a brick veneer wall.

Also, look at the tech notes at bia.org

The brick veneer described above sounds way wrong to me.

I know that the installation details are not good. I am just having trouble interpreting our OR residential specialty code to have it set in stone (or brick) that the installation is wrong. I am just waiting to have the large builder argue the point as is typical.

Thanks for the above info. as well

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I think you are interpreting it right. Both the article that W.J. mentioned and the commentary on the IRC are pretty clear. If you don't have time to go talk to the AHJ before sending the report then write it as Hausdok recommended.

Go talk to the AHJ and find out what is their lame excuse for allowing the contravention. The masonry inspection class is next on my list down at Chemeketa. Right now I am taking the plumbing codes sequence. Chemeketa Community College offers a 2 year degree in Building Inspection Technology (The only one in the State).

These code classes are pretty interesting. They give you some insight into the mind of the muni's. If the public thinks the rank of HI's are formed by reject contractors you ought to take a look at the muni wannebes that fill these classes. They are as sharp as a butter knife. By the way, in any class I have ever taken there, I was the sole HI.

Chris, Oregon

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It looks like a botched install to me. The builder (or the mason crew) already knows it. That's why the holes were drilled after the wall was up.

I am having trouble interpreting Oregon's residential building code section R703.7.5 "flashing shall be located beneath the first course of masonry above finished ground level above the foundation wall or slab and at other points of support......" And of course then weep holes are required directly above that flashing every 33" etc.

I assume this is based on the IRC. Move up to section R703.7.2 (steel angles) and R703.7.3 (lintels) where it explains proper methods of support . Move down to section R703.8 where it says "the flashing shall extend to the surface of the exterior wall finish..." Figures R703.7 and R703.7.1 show the details of how it all fits together.

You should be able to see flashing in the horizontal mortar joint beneath the first course of bricks that are above the finished ground surface. You should see the weep holes in the vertical mortar joints between the bricks on that same course. I don't see flashing in the pics that you posted of the weep holes.... so either the flashing is not there or the holes are in the wrong course (probably both!).

If the builder gives you a hard time (he probably will, to try to intimidate you), slide the code book, the JLC article, and a copy of BIA technote 7 under the builder's nose and ask him to show you where the way he did it is in there.

The implication is that water is going to get behind the brick and rot any wood that is behind it. Make the builder explain what he's done in that installation to prevent that from happening, and provide something in writing which shows that what he did is an accepted practice.

I bet he can't do it. The proper fix will probably be to tear it off the house and do it right.

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Hi,

Well, it's obvious what he's done;he expects it to drain through the foundation vents - either out to the face of the veneer or into the crawlspace via the vents through the foundation wall.

The wall will probably never fill with enough water to reach the sills or sheathing, but that still doesn't make it what one would consider a professionally done job.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Slight drift ahead.

Only within the last several years have builders around here begun to install weepholes within brick veneer. So there's a whole slew of houses--not only the old ones, but houses ten or twelve years old--that have no weepholes at all. I never know how to address this.

Sure, it's wrong. But it isn't really feasible to suggest that the seven or eight houses I find without weepholes every week should have the brick removed and properly reinstalled with appropriate weepholes. Mentioning the fact and adding that I didn't observe any adverse consequences seems unfair to the buyer, who's clueless. Then again, there are damn few sellers who can afford, or who will agree, to spend Walter's 100K figure to correct a building flub. Yes, a client can walk, but he's gonna have a tough time locating any house in my area with proper weepholes.

My eighty-five year old house never had weepholes and is in great shape. But we've also all heard stories of severe water damage that required stripping off brick and sheathing at enormous costs. So . . . I never know what to say.

What do you guys say?

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Mike, would JLC let you post (or archive) the "Keeping Water Out of Brick Veneer" article here? It's the best one I've seen on the subject.

Just a thought,

WJ

Hi Walter,

Dunno, I'll shoot off an e-mail to my boss over there and see what they say. Occasionally they do allow me to do that.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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As always, I greatly appreciate all of your help and comments on here. I will be fighting the builder on this well armed as a result. I almost always tell my new construction client's that the builder will likely say that I am an idiot, and that I do not know what I am talking about. I tell them if that happens, they should call me and let me provide documentation, etc. in order to ensure issues are repaired (properly).

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The wall will probably never fill with enough water to reach the sills or sheathing, but that still doesn't make it what one would consider a professionally done job.

Hi Mike. Well I agree with you on that. In addition to the the lack of a through-wall flashing at the base of the wall, I'm looking at the poor detailing at the top of the brick veneer where it meets the wood trim. The flashing there does not extend out to the face of the brick and the top course has a low pitch. Seeing these problems at the top and the bottom of the veneer doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the water resistant barrier is properly detailed or that the mason took care to not let a lot of mortar fall into the air space when he built the wall.

Only within the last several years have builders around here begun to install weepholes within brick veneer. So there's a whole slew of houses--not only the old ones, but houses ten or twelve years old--that have no weepholes at all. I never know how to address this.

Sure, it's wrong. But it isn't really feasible to suggest that the seven or eight houses I find without weepholes every week should have the brick removed and properly reinstalled with appropriate weepholes. Mentioning the fact and adding that I didn't observe any adverse consequences seems unfair to the buyer, who's clueless. Then again, there are damn few sellers who can afford, or who will agree, to spend Walter's 100K figure to correct a building flub. Yes, a client can walk, but he's gonna have a tough time locating any house in my area with proper weepholes.

My eighty-five year old house never had weepholes and is in great shape. But we've also all heard stories of severe water damage that required stripping off brick and sheathing at enormous costs. So . . . I never know what to say.

What do you guys say?

Hi John. In new construction I take the hard-line "do it over and this time do it right" approach. In existing homes I make note that the weep holes are not there and I note the age of the house. Then I explain what they are for and what can happen if they are not there. Then I go inside and conduct a thorough hunt for signs of moisture intrusion. I document where I looked and I report what I found (or did not find). If I don't find anything I tell the client that I've done what I can within the scope of this visual inspection and advise him that he can either accept the risk that it will be ok, or he can have a more extensive investigation done which may require some destructive testing. I also tell the client that even if the results of the more extensive examination came back negative, all it tells him is that it has been ok so far -- there is no guarantee that there will not be a problem in the future.

I don't have one yet but an IR camera would be very handy to have in this situation. Right now I spend a lot of time using a moisture meter to scan interior walls that are opposite the veneer. The IR camera would scan the walls very quickly, and if moisture was found I think the photos would be more persuasive to the client than moisture meter readings. I would still use the moisture meter to confirm any suspected moisture that the IR camera shows.

The way I see it, the "problem" is not lack of weep holes, it is moisture intrusion. If I don't see a problem, then there's nothing for me to tell them to fix. Do you guys tell them to put weep holes in? If you do, I can't imagine you would advocate this on a 100 year old building that had no signs of moisture intrusion. If not for that building, then where and how do you draw the line?

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Hi Mike. Well I agree with you on that. In addition to the the lack of a through-wall flashing at the base of the wall, I'm looking at the poor detailing at the top of the brick veneer where it meets the wood trim. The flashing there does not extend out to the face of the brick and the top course has a low pitch. Seeing these problems at the top and the bottom of the veneer doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the water resistant barrier is properly detailed or that the mason took care to not let a lot of mortar fall into the air space when he built the wall.

That is exactly what I told the buyer (my cousin), and the Realtor (my aunt).

I just spent the last few hours reading through the BIA tech notes and printed a lot of useful info. Tech note # 28 figure 2(d) had some good info. for the concerns posted along with tech note 7.

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Thanks for the input, Brandon C. Your approach is pretty much what I've done in the past, but I've never been completely comfortable with it. Walter's point about not saying we don't see any problems is a good one, and something I hadn't considered before reading his response to my question.

I remain . . . a little unsure.

John

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I just thought I would update you guy's on what has happened so far. My cousin has an architect friend who works mostly on exterior details of buildings. He told my cousin (purchaser), that if they re- sloped the ledge and installed a waterproof sealant to the brick it should be fine. I gave him my opinion regarding this umm repair?.... just thought you all would be interested.

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I already sent him to the BIA website and the code info. I recommended that he have the veneer wall replaced from scratch.

I told him that the builder has to comply with at least bare min. code and if there were any arguments, to have the AHJ re- evaluate the veneer for code compliance, etc. What he does with this info. now is up to him.

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Originally posted by Brandon Chew

. . . The way I see it, the "problem" is not lack of weep holes, it is moisture intrusion.

Actually, with brick veneer, it's all about letting the water out. The water will get in no matter what you do. As long at the water can get out faster than it can get in, the wall will be fine. The drainage plane is behind the brick.

If I don't see a problem, then there's nothing for me to tell them to fix.

Well, except that in almost 100% of the cases where there's a problem, you can't see it till there's been significant damage. That's why brick veneer in new construction is such a crap shoot. If you install it wrong on 100 house, it perform just fine on some and cause some others to rot.

Do you guys tell them to put weep holes in?

There's no point. The weep holes are useless without flashing.

If you do, I can't imagine you would advocate this on a 100 year old building that had no signs of moisture intrusion.

Brick veneer on 100-year old buildings is exceedingly rare.

If not for that building, then where and how do you draw the line?

I believe that's the nut of the discussion.

Personally, I say something along the lines of, "If you buy this house, understand that, because the brick was installed incorrectly, there's a greater-than-average risk of concealed water damage in the walls. If you're unwilling to assume this risk, have the brick veneer reinstalled properly."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all of your help and info. regarding this issue. The builder's head mason evaluated the home and has agreed to repair the improper weep holes, flashing, etc.

I just wonder if it will be done right this time, and if they plan on repairing the hundred's of homes in the subdivision that were done the same way.....

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