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sparky472 04-06-2013 02:44 PM

Water intrusion - brick wall
Here's the story: Two story, brick facade house. West-facing wall has a problem with water when it rains. It is dripping (close to pouring at times) from the top of the window frame (not the window frame itself, the strip of drywall that runs across the top of the opening just inside the frame) on the first floor. It's mostly the middle window, but occasionally the others on the bottom.

The windows are vinyl replacement windows that were installed when we bought the house, so I don't know if this was a problem before or not. There seem to be some gaps or cracks in the mortar in various spots on the wall, mainly closer to the top. I assumed water was coming in here and leaking down.

Had one guy look at it, and suggested fixing those gaps and cracks. Another guy looked at it said he could fix a couple of the big ones, but the mortar is mostly fine. He thinks the problem is that there needs to be weep holes above the first floor windows. He says we can try that first and if it doesn't work, he'll need to tear out the bricks over the windows to get in there and fix whatever the problem is.

I also see that all of the lintels have been caulked where the brick meets the lintel.

Any thoughts? I really want to stop the water and then I need to fix up the water damage to the window frame and sill, but I'm not sure what to do.


concretemasonry 04-06-2013 03:39 PM

There is no question that the caulk between the windows and lintel is keeping the water from above inside the wall until it finds a way out.


SPS-1 04-06-2013 04:13 PM

Looks like you are missing weep holes and possibly missing flashing also. Brick/mortar is not waterproof. Rain will soak through brick. Also you could have condensation behind the brick, or water entering through roof areas. When all the work is done properly, any water behind the brick has a path to exit. Caulking it up will only trap the water. You should be talking to a brick restoration contractor, not a "handyman". Adding the weep holes is only a half solution if it is not flashed properly.

SPS-1 04-06-2013 04:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
this is how it should look. ( Might not be the best diagram--showing weep rope rather than weep holes, but I wanted to show the flashing)

sparky472 04-06-2013 05:34 PM

Both guys I talked to are masons. So, sounds like you agree that I should do the weep holes above the first floor windows. I just removed all the caulk that someone had put where the lintel meets the brick above it. If there is no flashing or more likely, poorly installed flashing, it seems like the only way to ascertain that would be to have the windows removed and reinstalled or having the brick facade (or some portion of it) removed. I guess we'll see what the weep holes and unsealed lintels do. I'm putting the house on the market very soon. So on the one hand I don't want to spend a fortune. At the same time, I want to hand this problem off to someone else.

SPS-1 04-06-2013 06:10 PM

Did the masons have an opinion on if the bricks looked like they were flashed properly? (It may not be readily possible to tell). With the history of water intrusion that you described, if it were my house, I would be insisting that they ensured it was flashed properly. That would require removing and re-installing the course of bricks over the window. Not really a big deal, unless they break a brick and can't get an identical replacement. Anyways, if the guys you are talking to are professionals, its probably best to follow their recomendation. If you plan on selling the house, I can understand you not wanting to spend too much, but then you are just dumping the problem on the next guy.

sparky472 04-06-2013 11:06 PM

The one who said to start by putting weep holes above the firstt floor windows did ask if I knew anything about the flashing. I don't. His thinking is to start with the weep holes which he would do for $175. If that doesn't work he says the next step would be to take out the bricks over the first floor windows to flash properly. He says that'd be $750. Others have suggested the possibility that there isn't any building wrap or felt or water wouldn't be leaking into the house. I don't know how something like that is remedied. Or at what cost.

sparky472 04-06-2013 11:15 PM

I did spend time this afternoon removing the caulk from the lintel. Tomorrow I'll give the wall a hose down and see what happens. But since I've never up a hose on it I don't know if that'll give me anything decisive.

tony.g 04-07-2013 04:22 PM

All brick-faced buildings should have a cavity tray over window and door openings. A cavity tray directs any rainwater coming down the inside of the brick skin, to the outside, via weepholes.
Problem is, it's very difficult to form a cavity tray over arched windows like your upper window.
If you're selling the house, a quick fix would be to carefully re-point the brickwork over the window. It's not an ideal solution, but might work short-term.
Just putting in weep holes without doing anything else will not solve the problem.

sparky472 04-07-2013 05:45 PM

I don't think the top of the arch is the issue, though I do think water is coming in somewhere around the second story windows. At this point, I'm wondering if I should find a good contractor who can quarterback this thing and just make sure it gets taken care of.

I agree in that I don't think weep holes are going to solve the problem, and any single mason is only going to do what he thinks is needed and what he knows to do (one of them said he doesn't do caulking around windows).

Whereas a good contractor has a broader experience and broader resources, and can just make sure whatever needs to be done will get done. And with only 2 months tops to get house ready for sale, I can't mess around.

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