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Old 04-01-2010, 07:48 PM   #1
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


So... last fall I bought a house. It was the first one I saw and fell in love with it instantly and after seeing 30 or so more houses I ended up buying the first.

Anyhow, during the inspection the inspector noticed one of the exterior walls had a bit of a bulge to it. I was really concerned so I consulted some masons for a more educated opinion because the inspector of course didn't have any real advice on it.

I consulted 4 different masons and 3 out of 4 said it was not a problem, don't worry. 1 of them is a trusted co-workers husband that has nothing to gain by misleading me. 1 was a close friend of the seller, the other 2 were commercial masons only 1 of those guys told me it was a problem and of course told me how he could fix it.

I bought the house and here I am wondering if it is really a problem. I think it is my mind playing tricks on me that it has gotten worse but I really can't tell. I marked the wall and measured the distance from the top of the roof so I can quantify the movement from now on but I wanted some opinions on whether it looks like a problem or not.

Sorry if thats not enough info but here are some pics...










The length I measured from the top of the roof to the edge of the level is 1 1/16"

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Old 04-01-2010, 08:17 PM   #2
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


The issue could be the brick ties are failing or inadequate in number. Or water is getting behind the wall and freezing. If monitoring the wall indicates it is getting worse it will need to be repaired.
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Old 04-02-2010, 03:18 PM   #3
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


To get a more accurate measurement it would be a good idea to drop a plumb line down so it just clears the bulge and measure how far out of plumb it is at the bottom and top. Most surveyors use the rule of thumb that if a wall is more than one third of it's width out of plumb there is a possibility of it needing a rebuild.
I think that Ron6519 is pretty much on the ball with the idea of failing or missing wall ties, as this is quite a common problem. http://www.crownpreservation.co.uk/pages/wall-tie.htm
His idea of monitoring the movement to see if it gets worse is also probably the best way at the moment.
Looking at the pictures it wouldn't surprise me if it did get worse.
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Old 04-03-2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


I will drop a plumb line to see how far out of plumb it is. When you say more than 1/3 its width out of plumb are we talking the entire walls width or just the single rank of bricks width? I know there are at least 2 layers of brick on the exterior walls and the interior bricks are probably 2-3 times the size of the exterior brick and seem alot more stable.

Is it possible to just tie the external layer of brick that is bulging with the interior layer of brick to keep them from moving further or is an entire teardown and rebuild of the affected area required?

I do notice that the closet in the corner of the room where the exterior wall bulge is has a piece of wood panelling patching the corner of the ceiling where there was previously water damage which might explain how the wall ties got destroyed in the first place if water had gotten in at some point.
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Old 04-03-2010, 03:24 PM   #5
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


If you have what you describe as 2 layers of brick outside and 1 inside then you must have a real brick house rather than a brick veneer (1 layer) on a frame house. There won't be any brick ties so they haven't failed. If there are no cracks (or signs of recent tuckpointing) then just monitor it for now.
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Old 04-03-2010, 03:47 PM   #6
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


It is an all brick house, no brick veneer. I did notice a brick that is cracked in half and loose but I'm not sure if its been that way for a while or not. The exterior brick is also very porous and doesn't seem to have been sealed properly, I've had the face pop off many of the bricks over the winter I'm assuming due to freezing and thawing. Is it possible the freezing and thawing over many years has caused the mortar to become unstable and allow the wall to bulge horizontally?
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:03 PM   #7
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveB87 View Post
It is an all brick house, no brick veneer. I did notice a brick that is cracked in half and loose but I'm not sure if its been that way for a while or not. The exterior brick is also very porous and doesn't seem to have been sealed properly, I've had the face pop off many of the bricks over the winter I'm assuming due to freezing and thawing. Is it possible the freezing and thawing over many years has caused the mortar to become unstable and allow the wall to bulge horizontally?
Many factors could be involved. Including disproportioned roof load.

If it where vener, it might be easier to fix. Monitor as advised. Shore and rebuild may b in your future.
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


Steve,
Is the construction of your house an 8 inch thick brick exterior wall, then a 2 or 3 inch cavity and then a thicker brick or block internal wall? Or is it solid brick right through the wall?
When you look at the brickwork are all the bricks stretchers, or are there headers used to tie in the courses?
It looks like it has been repointed in the past with a strong cement mortar, which with older soft, porous bricks can cause the bricks to spall in freezing conditions.
The one third rule applies to the thickness of the whole wall. Thick walls can lean more without the need or a rebuild. The walls on the back off my house are worse than yours, but have lasted for hundreds of years as they are 2 foot thick and built with stone and lime mortar.
Need some advice on my exterior brick wall-house-001.jpg
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Old 04-03-2010, 06:05 PM   #9
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


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Originally Posted by stuart45 View Post
Steve,
Is the construction of your house an 8 inch thick brick exterior wall, then a 2 or 3 inch cavity and then a thicker brick or block internal wall? Or is it solid brick right through the wall?
When you look at the brickwork are all the bricks stretchers, or are there headers used to tie in the courses?
It looks like it has been repointed in the past with a strong cement mortar, which with older soft, porous bricks can cause the bricks to spall in freezing conditions.
The one third rule applies to the thickness of the whole wall. Thick walls can lean more without the need or a rebuild. The walls on the back off my house are worse than yours, but have lasted for hundreds of years as they are 2 foot thick and built with stone and lime mortar.
Attachment 19199

I'm not really sure how thick each wall is and whether or not there is a cavity in between. Altogether the thickness of the wall from inside to outside is about 12". The interior brick is much larger than the exterior, probably 18 inches wide and 4 inches high per brick. The interior walls are perfectly straight and solid. Much of the exterior brick is covered in stucco which I think a previous owner did to attempt to patch the spalling brick faces rather than getting everything repointed properly.

Here is a profile picture of the bulge from when I first bought the house, you can also see the stucco on the adjoining wall.

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Old 04-03-2010, 06:34 PM   #10
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


If the inside wall is OK, then it looks like it's only the outside skin of brickwork that may have to be rebuilt. It could be a cavity wall where the ties have failed as shown in the photos below, or it could be a solid brick wall, but the brickwork hasn't been properly bonded.
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall-wallties-20pic01.jpg
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Old 04-03-2010, 06:57 PM   #11
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


After re reading your post, I think you may have concrete blocks on the inside (8x4x16) with a 4 inch brick skin outside. The brick skin may not be tied to the blocks or the ties have failed.
The problem with a bulging wall is that it is weaker where it bulges as the bed joints have usually been broken. You can tell this when you take them down. Wind pressures can help pull out the wall where it is weak.

Last edited by stuart45; 04-03-2010 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:10 PM   #12
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


So a few months ago I had a local brick guy come by and take a look at the wall. He was a little concerned about it but was pretty confident grinding out 5/8" of mortar in the bulging area and re-tuckpointing should be enough to keep it from moving anymore. He came by a few days later and did the work and retuckpointed a few other areas that needed it. The outside looks good now and I dont see any signs of further movement. I painted the house shortly after retuckpointed and it looks great and don't see any paint cracking.

HOWEVER, I believe there is still some movement of the other rank of bricks on the interior side. I can't actually see the bricks directly at the moment as they are covered with wood panelling but the wood panelling was painted when I moved in and the joints where the panels meet have the paint cracking and are becoming a bit loose. I suppose it might be possible the brick expands and contracts a bit between the seasons but I think it may be more than that?

I'm guessing there are broken or missing brick ties between the two ranks of brick that need to be replaced.

I have been looking at post-construction tie repair systems and it seems my best option might be something like the heli-tie system from Thor Helical to add some ties between the two ranks to prevent any further movement. So my questions are...

Is the Heli-Tie system appropriate for this type of repair?
Is the Heli-Tie system something I can install myself or should I have the brick guy do it?
Is there a better system?
What would I need to install the system? I have a decent DeWalt corded 7.8 amp hammer drill but I'm not sure if I would need an SDS drill?
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:23 PM   #13
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


The outer wythe of brick may just have built sloppily and out of plumb.

If you had filled out your location where you are hiding, this would provide some more accurate information as would an age of the structure, otherwise it is just a guessing game after looking at a bunch of photos of a level. This would provide a more accurate gues of the interior wythe of masonry and the material (clay or concrete). Plumbness is one item to look at and it may be excessive according to current codes, but allowed to be built that way under some older codes. Without more meaningful information, all you can get is guesses, just as the guesses on the actual size and type of masonry for the interior wythes. There may not be any metal wall ties required if it is a bonded masonry wall with some brick turned 90 degrees to bond the two wythes together and masons tend to let the spacing grow to provide room for their fingers.

Don't worry about repair products until you know the problems and magnitude of movement (if any). The roof overhang is immaterial and the outer wythe may carry no load.

Dick
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:29 PM   #14
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


I am located in Northwest Indiana (Highland to be specific). The house was built in 1960 and has an inner and outter wythe of bricks, no wood framing.

The outer wythe of bricks appear to be a common size fairly porous clay brick, I'm not sure if these bricks ever had a glaze on the outside but if they did it has long been worn away. I painted the bricks over the summer with some Valspar Duramax elastomeric paint to try to seal the brick faces and prevent any further spalling of the brick faces or moisture absorption by the bricks.

The inner wythe of bricks I would guess as you said is mostly the load bearing wythe as the bricks seem much higher quality and generally better laid. They are 14" w x 3 1/2" tall although I'm not sure of their depth , I would estimate 4".

Looking at the bricks on the outside it does not appear that any are turned perpendicular to the rest of the bricks to tie the wythes together
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:26 AM   #15
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Need some advice on my exterior brick wall


This may help. http://www.diywallties.co.uk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF2kf...eature=related

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