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Old 12-26-2011, 04:17 PM   #1
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


Ahh another potential project that stemmed from another

Cliff notes version:
I found 2 walls my brick veneer house has 4 rows or brick buried under soil. The house was built in 1955 and from what I can tell most of it was like this. Should I bother to redo it or just leave it?


Unabridged version:
Long story short I trimmed down some bushes in my front yard and noticed the brick veneer stopped right at the brick. I then noticed the other parts of the house the brick is actually buried below grade, up to 4 rows deep.

I did dig some window wells about 2 years ago as the one area was settling and just buried the brick as I continued what was there and at the time I didn't know any better but I'm thinking perhaps this may have been a mistake?

The house was built in 1955 and I'm very sure at least 2 walls (one short and one long) were like this from the beginning. There's even one area that has a concrete pad put over it. So far I do not notice anything wrong, like water leaking. The rim joist is above the basement windows so it's far above where the soil is. The foundation is block.

I wonder if I should do something about this, like dig around the area to expose the brick to free it from the soil, then put in something that drains quickly like pea gravel. Some pictures:

Pictures of 2 different walls I dug slightly to expose buried brick:




Pictures of the window wells I dug- to continue the existing grade, you can see the brick is 4 deep.



Closer shot of the window well- you can see the decorative brick at the base of the window would have been buried. These buried bricks do not seem to be the water-resistant "sewer brick" that are found on my brick steps (see first picture).



Different window that does not have window well (pardon the mess)

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Old 12-26-2011, 05:20 PM   #2
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


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Originally Posted by cbrc5eric View Post
I found 2 walls my brick veneer house has 4 rows or brick buried under soil.
Mine has more than that.

Quote:
Should I bother to redo it or just leave it?
re-do what?

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Old 12-26-2011, 05:32 PM   #3
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


Anything below grade should have been sealed with foundation sealer.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:44 PM   #4
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


I have very limited knowledge in this area, but I was always told not to bury brick because water will get in behind and pop the face off. I think this may be the op's concern

And I'm not seeing any drainage holes in the pics
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:16 PM   #5
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


If the mortar isn't showing signs of any deterioration then leave well enough alone for now. You will never match the color of the mortar so if it ain't broke don't fix it. There are mortars suitable for use underground, maybe that's what was used in your case.

At any rate...I don't see any deterioration but it may just be my lying eyes.
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:27 PM   #6
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


I agree with Bud on this just leave well-enough-alone. Unless, of course, you have some kind of water problem in the basement. But, it looks like the brick is holding up just fine for it's age.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:04 PM   #7
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


Be sure there are no drainage weeps through the brick that are buried below grade. If so, you run the risk of water getting back into the wall cavity.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:14 PM   #8
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


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Be sure there are no drainage weeps through the brick that are buried below grade. If so, you run the risk of water getting back into the wall cavity.
Correct me if I'm wrong cuz, I'm learning this as well, but isn't the brick of a porous nature, and therefore the walls are always taking on a bit of rain water? So the drainage weeps let the water out. And if it can't drain and then freezes thats when the face pops off?
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #9
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


creeper -

Not all brick are "porous". So are just too dense and tight.

Deterioration from freezing requires repeated cycles of freezing and thawing while saturated, which is not likely in a material that has lateral heat transmission and is buried in soil around a foundation, especially in the OP's location of MD. - Flat surfaces are more critical.

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Old 12-27-2011, 02:00 PM   #10
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


Quote:
And if it can't drain and then freezes thats when the face pops off?
No apparent evidence of this in the photos.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:50 PM   #11
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


OK thanks Dick and sorry to hijack, but what if the bottom or two course of bricks is not currently buried and has weep holes. Would it be ok to cover those with say, limestone screenings and a patio slab? ( I'm euchered for proper drainage and this would be the only way to achieve sufficient slope)
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:09 PM   #12
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Brick veneer is 4 rows below grade- redo or leave?


Thanks for the advice everyone, guess I can leave it. My chimney did deteriorate from lots of freeze/thaw and had to be rebuilt. I disassembled that thing with my bare hands Since my house has zero insulation in the walls and basement, I'm sure the heat passes right through in the winter and keeps anything from freezing too. Guess I should rethink insulating the basement walls The wall brick all appear to be quite solid and hopefully it stays like that for a while :-D

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