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Old 06-28-2019, 09:11 PM   #1
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Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


A masonry guy is in the final stages of completing a capstone repair project along the perimeter of our house. We paid as he worked and I noticed these things after he already left for the day.

1. The mortar isn’t solid between the capstones. Instead he used a backer rod foam to fill the void then mortar on top of that. I know that’s ok for joints using flexible sealant, but is that ok for mortar joints like these? (You can see it if you look closely at the gaps in the photo below)

2. The gaps are another concern. I’m no expert, but shouldn’t the mortar go all the way beneath the capstone also? Those gaps in the photos are the underside of the overhang, and are present on every joint along the house. Some actual extend to the lower portion of the front and are more visible.


He said he only has the caulking left to do where the siding meets the capstone on the top side. I unfortunately already paid for everything else, but now wish I just did it myself and get the feeling that this wasn’t done correctly.

This photo was taken from below a couple of the capstones where they meet the brick on the house.
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Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP-d955324c-8dd7-4823-9374-d0f7cb364128.jpeg  

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Old 06-29-2019, 12:22 AM   #2
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


If that ain't a weephole, it is going to accumulate water and ice in the winter, and break apart.

Which is the capstone?


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Old 06-29-2019, 06:20 AM   #3
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It's the grey limestone, sits on top of the red brick. He's saying it won't get water snow and ice because the opening is on the bottom, protected from the elements.
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Old 06-29-2019, 08:37 AM   #4
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


yes to sealant (NO to caulk) 'tween capstone & siding,,, should have wtrproof membrane behind capstone imo,,, weepholes would be good from what i can see
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:47 AM   #5
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


Is this a cap on a parapet or just a ledge? 2 1/2" overhang or so? More pics?

Depending on where, you would want flashing and/or solid bedded.
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Old 06-29-2019, 09:51 AM   #6
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There is a waterproof membrane behind it, I did see that when they were removed. The gaps in the mortar on the bottom he says are weep holes. But the mortar is not solid in those joints like I thought it's supposed to be. Instead they are stuffed with backer rod which I'm sure is meant to save money on the cost of mortar. I'm just nervous that this is going to fall apart in a year or less since it's not solid mortar in the joints and those don't exactly look like weep holes to me. And he's about to finish up today.. great.
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Old 06-29-2019, 10:01 AM   #7
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


Backer rod costs more than mortar, so there was no $ saving, unless he used non conforming materials as backer rod.

I don't think his explanation of no snow/ ice getting in there is any good.

Snow drifts in the wind, and packs tight everywhere, once saw it in an attic, from a small gap in the fascia rake board loose.


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Old 06-29-2019, 10:13 AM   #8
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Here's a photo from above looking down where the siding meets the capstone on top and the brick below it. This joint wasn't filled with mortar and you can see the backer rod in the joint.

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Old 06-29-2019, 02:00 PM   #9
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


Sorry, the photo should be there now.
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Old 06-30-2019, 02:40 PM   #10
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


The only time I have seen a backer used with mortar is when they stuff newspaper or plastic bagging into CMU cores when grouting an upper course cell. Otherwise, backer rod is for sealant.

Those should be solid mortared. Weep holes don't do much without flashing to direct moisture out them, and that should be sticking out beyond the top of the brick. You didn't say if the "waterproof membrane" you saw was performing this function, or just as a housewrap (maybe it was felt paper?).

Note "cap stone" finishes tops of walls. Since your "sill cap" has no kerf cut for a drip edge, it should be installed slightly angled down. There should be a "brick ledge" flashing installed behind the siding and above this sill cap (because of dissimilar vinyl vs. brick materials). Any moisture below this flashing, and behind this sill cap would continue down to the bottom of the wall, hopefully there is flashing there taking care of that.
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Old 06-30-2019, 04:33 PM   #11
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


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Originally Posted by 3onthetree View Post

Note "cap stone" finishes tops of walls. Since your "sill cap" has no kerf cut for a drip edge, it should be installed slightly angled down. There should be a "brick ledge" flashing installed behind the siding and above this sill cap (because of dissimilar vinyl vs. brick materials).
Actually, it looks like there is a drip edge under the sills in the first picture, as well as an aluminum flashing over the sills.

The joints between the sills is some sort of "hybrid" I've never heard of. Usually, it's backer rod and sealant (more common in commercial construction, rare in residential) of solid mortar packed in tight. Those are Indiana Bedford sills (very common in these parts) and are known to be relatively soft and absorbent, which is what often leads to the joints cracking out. At a minimum, the ends of the sills should be dampened before mortaring them to keep the sills from pulling all of the moisture out the mud instantly.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:18 AM   #12
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


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Actually, it looks like there is a drip edge under the sills in the first picture, as well as an aluminum flashing over the sills.

The joints between the sills is some sort of "hybrid" I've never heard of. Usually, it's backer rod and sealant (more common in commercial construction, rare in residential) of solid mortar packed in tight. Those are Indiana Bedford sills (very common in these parts) and are known to be relatively soft and absorbent, which is what often leads to the joints cracking out. At a minimum, the ends of the sills should be dampened before mortaring them to keep the sills from pulling all of the moisture out the mud instantly.
Thanks! Yeah Iím thinking thatís why we had to redo these to begin with. The original builder must not have dampened the limestone sills before mortaring into place, and you could walk around the house and pull each one right out with hardly any effort. The guy that just put them back in for us seemed to recognize that, and supposedly dampened the limestone before setting on the mortar bed.

But those joints sure do look funny to me, like they may not last one winter. Oh well, heís done now and paid. I guess Iíll be redoing it if/when it fails.
Thanks guys!
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:31 AM   #13
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


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Originally Posted by 3onthetree View Post
The only time I have seen a backer used with mortar is when they stuff newspaper or plastic bagging into CMU cores when grouting an upper course cell. Otherwise, backer rod is for sealant.

Those should be solid mortared. Weep holes don't do much without flashing to direct moisture out them, and that should be sticking out beyond the top of the brick. You didn't say if the "waterproof membrane" you saw was performing this function, or just as a housewrap (maybe it was felt paper?).

Note "cap stone" finishes tops of walls. Since your "sill cap" has no kerf cut for a drip edge, it should be installed slightly angled down. There should be a "brick ledge" flashing installed behind the siding and above this sill cap (because of dissimilar vinyl vs. brick materials). Any moisture below this flashing, and behind this sill cap would continue down to the bottom of the wall, hopefully there is flashing there taking care of that.
Itís definitely not housewrap, Iíll try to get a better picture today later. Itís a rubber-like membrane, and goes behind the sill down below the top layer of brick, and can be seen from the front. That top layer of brick also has a series of weep holes, as well as the brick near the bottom of the wall. But those were there since it was originally built, so this guy didnít change any of that.

By the way, thanks for correcting my terminology... Iíve been calling those ďcapstonesĒ all along!
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Old 07-01-2019, 12:05 PM   #14
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Re: Urgent: Masonry work looks questionable, looking for opinions ASAP


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Originally Posted by maxforwardspeed View Post
It’s a rubber-like membrane, and goes behind the sill down below the top layer of brick, and can be seen from the front. That top layer of brick also has a series of weep holes, as well as the brick near the bottom of the wall
Excellente! Done very well prior, don't see that often. The new sill cap weep holes do nothing. Hopefully the piece was set with a gap from the wall as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxforwardspeed View Post
By the way, thanks for correcting my terminology... I’ve been calling those “capstones” all along!
Wasn't trying to be a stiff English teacher, but sometimes a tweak in a word here or there will give you different results if you are searching for products or details.

I see the groove now for the drip edge, but up top it looks like it was just caulked to the siding, and the first row of siding looks painted or something and busted from movement?.

Last edited by 3onthetree; 07-01-2019 at 12:08 PM.
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