Download PDF version (2382.7k) Log In or Register to view the full article as a PDF document.

Weep Holes

Launch Slideshow

Troubleshooting Brick Veneer

Construction details for drainage and strength

Troubleshooting Brick Veneer

Construction details for drainage and strength

  • Figure 8. A durable job starts on a soldered copper base flashing (A), with the first course properly tied (B) and set on a weep cut from a Carlisle rubber traffic pad turned upside down, as seen in this photo from another job (C). The cavity is kept clean (D), and ties are spaced every 2 feet vertically and securely attached to the studs with galvanized ring-shank nails (E).

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp25BA%2Etmp_tcm96-1532183.jpg

    true

    Figure 8. A durable job starts on a soldered copper base flashing (A), with the first course properly tied (B) and set on a weep cut from a Carlisle rubber traffic pad turned upside down, as seen in this photo from another job (C). The cavity is kept clean (D), and ties are spaced every 2 feet vertically and securely attached to the studs with galvanized ring-shank nails (E).

    600

    © McCampbell & Associates

    A durable job starts on a soldered copper base flashing.
  • Image

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp25BC%2Etmp_tcm96-1532197.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    © McCampbell & Associates

    Weeps should be provided at the base of brick veneer walls and under the sills of door and window openings. A good way to provide for this is to lay the course on top of a Carlisle rubber traffic pad that's been turned upside down.

  • Image

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp25BB%2Etmp_tcm96-1532190.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    © McCampbell & Associates

    The first course of brick should be properly tied to the sheathing. 
  • Image

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp25BD%2Etmp_tcm96-1532202.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    © McCampbell & Associates

    The cavity between the sheathing and brick veneer should be kept free of mortar and other debris.
  • Image

    http://www.jlconline.com/Images/tmp25BE%2Etmp_tcm96-1532207.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    © McCampbell & Associates

    Ties are spaced every 2 feet vertically should be provided and securely attached to the studs with galvanized ring-shank nails.

When inspecting leaky brick homes, I often note that there are no weep holes, or that they are in odd locations. Contractors, when pressed on the issue, may insist that there are indeed through-wall flashings behind the brick, though at this point I have my doubts. Sometimes I’ll find head joints that have been drilled out after the fact to provide weeps. In that case, even if there were flashings in the wall, there’s a good chance that they would now have holes.

At this point, destructive inspection is justified, and I typically find that the so-called weep holes serve no function other than to placate a building official or home inspector.

For through-wall flashings to work their best, there should be weep holes to allow the water out. The Brick Industry Association — my preferred source for details on the correct way to install brick veneer — recommends leaving an open head joint every 24 inches. The IRC allows for weep holes that are as small as 3/16-inch in diameter, every 33 inches immediately above the flashing.

On the other hand, even if there are no weep holes but there is a proper through-wall flashing that terminates on the face of the wall, the collected water will eventually evaporate or get out through the tiny cracks in the mortar before it can damage the framing.

Ties That Bind

Brick ties, another code requirement, also seem to be regarded as optional. There have been many cases where entire brick walls have collapsed — sometimes even on two-story homes. High winds can strip poorly tied brick veneer from the frame. Ties not only hold the brick in place; they also transfer lateral loads in both wind and seismic events. Omitting ties goes well beyond just being sloppy — it’s a life-safety issue.

Besides using enough ties, it’s also important to embed them properly so that the wall acts as a diaphragm, not just a stack of bricks hoping to stay in place.

As the photos on this page show, it is actually possible to get a workmanlike brick veneer job, but it takes a mason who cares and a knowledgeable contractor willing to supervise and address the details. Given that combination, the brickwork should protect the structure indefinitely.

Harrison McCampbell is a consulting forensic architect in Brentwood, Tenn., specializing in moisture-related construction defects. You can find him online at MCA4N6.com.