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  1. #1
    David Block's Avatar
    David Block Guest

    Default Brick Veneer Problem

    Ok, inspected 100 year old house today and on the exterior, the brick veneer on one wall was severly bowed outward. The foundation walls were still plumb with very little settlement noted. The window framing and interior walls were still plumb so it has to be a veneer problem. There was stucco above the brick veneer. The transition from stucco to brick veneer below did not have any means to direct water away from the wall. There was only wood trim with large gaps noted. On the interior of the building in the basement along this same wall, i noticed that the top of the rim joist was bowed inward and had actually knocked several floor joists off the sill plate. There was a 2" gap between the floor joists and the subflooring and a 1/2" gap between the floor joists and foundation wall (presumably floating in mid air). The exterior veneer did not have weep holes installed at the base of the wall. Could all of this be due to water being trapped behind the veneer? Is is possible that water is being trapped behind the veneer causing the brick ties to rust out and fail and the water freezing in the cavity has caused the veneer to bow outward while pushing the rim joist inward? I've never seen anything like it but it was the best theory I could come up with on the spot for my client. Any other ideas or suggestions?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Healdsburg Ca
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    Smile Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    Hello looks like the brick is sitting on the exterior sidewalk? is the side walk
    even or lifting from rain/ground water? just an idea. sometimes the rain/ground water can lift things/concrete and then go back down.

    best


    Ron
    WWW.ExcellenceExterminating.com


  3. #3
    David Block's Avatar
    David Block Guest

    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    Actually it does kind of look like that from the pictures. No, the brick veneer is bearing on an old stone foundation. No appreciable movement was noted in the stone foundation wall. I guess my biggest question would pertain to the floor joists that were not bearing on the sill plate anymore and the rim joist that had twisted inward. Is it possible that the floor joists had poor end bearing at this location to begin with and due to shrinkage pulled off the sill plate? The ends of the floor joists were toe nailed to the rim joist still but in this area several of them had moved for some reason and the rim joist had the top of the member rotated inward. The subflooring did not drop with the floor joists because it was now bearing on the rim joist. It was a very strange thing to see so I'm kinda stumped as to what is going on. Any suggestions?


  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    David,

    Looks like the mortar has been buttered up at some point. There is quite a distinguished diagonal line in the one photo.

    As to cause I think your theories are likely correct. The question is; is it still stable?

    The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    The brick ties are likely rusted off, allowing the weight of the wall to push that area of the brick outward.

    That is an indication that the rest of the brick ties may also be gone.

    I would recommend that a mason remove an area of brick and verify the existence of, and condition of, the brick ties.

    It is also possible that the brick ties were simply not embedded into the mortar sufficiently to 'permanently' secure the brick in place.

    Same recommendation and corrective action as for if the brick ties are rusted off.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    David Block's Avatar
    David Block Guest

    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    Thats what I was thinking. Thanks guys. Any thoughts on how floor joists fall off the sill plate with the rim joist twisted inward? Unrelated problem to the brick veneer scenario? The agent and client had some pretty wild theories ranging from seismic activity to a vehicle hitting the side of the home. Neither of which is very plausible. Shrinkage? Water freezing in wall cavity pushed the floor joists off? I'm stumped.


  7. #7
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    There was a 2" gap between the floor joists and the subflooring and a 1/2" gap between the floor joists and foundation wall (presumably floating in mid air).

    Being that the house is 100 years old you could have spalling or deterioration of the top of the foundation wall. This would be separate issue than what you said about foundation being plumb and little settlement.
    You could also have settlement of interior columns or lack of interior columns. Just a few thoughts.


  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Chicago, IL
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    Looks (hard to tell in the pics) like there is a reverse pitch at the sills. If so a good deal of water could be entering the walls below the windows, rotting or rusting the ties as Jerry suggests (here in Chicago, on a building that old, the ties were sometimes wood) and/or freeze-thaw deteriorating the mortar bonds.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    David Block,

    It would help if you would click on the 'User CP' link and update your location so we know where you are located.

    I suspect that the original cause of the bowed wall was the floor joists sliding off the sill plate putting the load on the brick veneer, from there I think it went into the brick ties (which are now likely part of the problem) as the brick veneer wall was never intended to carry the structural load of the wall (but it is now doing just that).

    Solution?

    The floor joists need to be raised back up onto the sill plate and properly anchored there.

    But that is only the beginning of the corrections needed.

    With a house that old, jacking those floor joists back up too fast will likely crack all the plaster, maybe even pop the wood lath loose.

    It may also be necessary to tear the brick veneer wall down and rebuild it.

    I can only imagine $$$$ ... many BIG $$$$

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    Jerry,

    If its a 100+ year old house, how much more life expectancy should one expect out of the brick veneer anyway?

    rick


  11. #11
    Brandon Chew's Avatar
    Brandon Chew Guest

    Default Re: Brick Veneer Problem

    David - where are you located? In this case, location could affect the answer as possible causes could be related to seismic activity or climate. Please update your profile to include your location.

    If the interior wall is straight and plumb, the most likely cause of the brick bowing outward is inadequate attachment of the brick to the wall. The question is whether that attachment was inadequate from the start or if it became that way over time. Further digging into the cause will likely require an invasive inspection as Jerry suggested. Did the interior wall and windows appear to be original construction or newer?

    On the interior of the building in the basement along this same wall, i noticed that the top of the rim joist was bowed inward and had actually knocked several floor joists off the sill plate. There was a 2" gap between the floor joists and the sub-flooring and a 1/2" gap between the floor joists and foundation wall (presumably floating in mid air). The exterior veneer did not have weep holes installed at the base of the wall. Could all of this be due to water being trapped behind the veneer?
    Setting cause aside for a moment, what you have described is a significant failure of the structural system of the home. Floor joists with no bearing means that the sub-flooring is all that is supporting the floor in this area. The rim joist carries loads from the roof, upper floors, and the exterior wall down to the foundation. Rotation of a significant structural element can lead to sudden collapse or major movement.

    "Is it possible that the floor joists had poor end bearing at this location to begin with and due to shrinkage pulled off the sill plate?" Unlikely. Wood shrinks very little in the direction of the grain (along the length of joists). In the lengths found in most homes, this kind of shrinkage is negligible. Shrinkage across the grain is significant and often times needs to be taken into account in construction details to avoid problems with differential movement between the lumber that is shrinking and other things that are attached to it.

    David Banks gave some good suggestions regarding possible causes. Was any sagging of the floor joists or support beams visible in the basement?

    As a home inspector, I would report my observations and their implications to my client and leave determining the cause of the conditions and methods of repairs to others. In this case I would recommend a structural engineer. I'd have the engineer come after the mason has opened up the brick wall so that the engineer can evaluate and design repairs to the veneer as well to the structural framing. The engineer will be investigating and offering a professional opinion on the cause of the structural and veneer failures during the course of evaluating the problem and recommending a solution.


  12. #12
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