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Thread: Lintels Damaged

  1. #1
    john mcharrie's Avatar
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    Default Lintels Damaged

    Hi there,

    This image represents EXACTLY what is happening above my windows in my condominium building. This is also the same for the two units above me on the second and third floors. I live in the northeast and used clear silicone to caulk the area shut due to a massive rainstorm that just moved through over the weekend. Is the caulking sufficient or should it be removed or redone by a masonry expert? Thanks!

    Here is the image...although mine is way more rusty and there is a major gap between the brick and lintel...


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  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by john mcharrie View Post
    Hi there,

    This image represents EXACTLY what is happening above my windows in my condominium building. This is also the same for the two units above me on the second and third floors. I live in the northeast and used clear silicone to caulk the area shut due to a massive rainstorm that just moved through over the weekend. Is the caulking sufficient or should it be removed or redone by a masonry expert? Thanks!

    Here is the image...although mine is way more rusty and there is a major gap between the brick and lintel...
    JM: There should be a through-wall flashing material between the lintel and the adjacent brick veneer. My opinion is that the brick should be removed by a competent mason. The lintel should be cleaned of rust, primed and painted; the flashing should be installed; and then the bricks should be re-installed. That is the proper method of repair.

    The bad news is - it is likely never to happen. In that event, a high-grade low modulus sealant would be better than nothing. It should be applied once a rust converter product like Loctite's Extend, a good metal primer and two coats of exterior paint are applied.

    Of course, this is not a DIY forum, so I did not just give you repair advice. The first statement I made is the preferred method of repair - by a professional mason.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    I start off agreeing with Aaron ...
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JM: There should be a through-wall flashing material between the lintel and the adjacent brick veneer. My opinion is that the brick should be removed by a competent mason. The lintel should be cleaned of rust, primed and painted; the flashing should be installed; and then the bricks should be re-installed. That is the proper method of repair.
    ... but end up disagreeing with him as I would NEVER recommend this:
    In that event, a high-grade low modulus sealant would be better than nothing.
    Because all you are doing with that sealant is helping keep IN the water which WILL get behind the brick, and which is WHY there should be a through wall flashing under the brick on top of that lintel which extends all the way to the front of the lintel.

    Should it be repaired properly as Aaron stated? Absolutely!

    Is creating a dam with sealant better than doing nothing? No Way!

    See that empty space between those two bricks toward the left? That space is an open head joint and is the best weep hole you can get, but that only lets out water which works it way over to that open head joint, not all the water which is all along the bottom of that wall - THAT water needs to be allowed to weep out under the brick and over the top of the metal lintel, and - HOPEFULLY - over the through the wall flashing.

    Yes, wire brush it, prime it with a good rust inhibitor primer, then paint the steel, but, if there is no proper through the wall flashing all that effort will be for naught and that is going to rust out anyway - it is a simply fact of life if there is not a proper through wall flashing installed properly, which includes lapping it over the front of the lintel.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    I start off agreeing with Aaron ...
    JP: That is nearly always a bad omen . . .


    ... but end up disagreeing with him
    JP: What a big surprise!


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    To caulk or not to caulk, that is the endless question isn't it. I've had more discussions about this topic with mason, archs, other HI, etc. than I can remember. The general consensus around here tends to be ...
    - if it is a vintage brick building - caulk
    - if it is NC - don't caulk
    On older brick water absorption/retention is less of an issue. On NC I agree with Jerry, that you'll just be holding the water inside the lintel. This of course will lead to premature rust out.
    Obviously the wall is taking in water, there are too many possibilities of 'from where'. Bad flashing, no through wall flashing, no admix in the mortar, porous brick, no good drainage plane, exposed CMU at the roof side of the parapet, etc.
    I would recommend interviewing a FEW different masons, hire the one who has plausible solutions and deals with NC issues.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    The general consensus around here tends to be ...
    - if it is a vintage brick building - caulk
    - if it is NC - don't caulk
    On older brick water absorption/retention is less of an issue...
    Well... I'm pretty skeptical about caulking any lintels, mostly because no one has ever been able to provide me with a really convincing explanation of why trapping the moisture which inevitably enters masonry walls above a ferrous metal structural support is a less bad idea than leaving them open and allowing water that penetrates the wall above the lintel OR enters from the face of the masonry at the lintel to dry back out...

    As for older Chicago structural masonry construction, it's old enough so that when lintels fail it's pretty difficult to determine if they would've failed sooner - or later - had they not been caulked, FWIW here's one from last summer with badly deteriorated lintels that appeared to been caulked to the masonry above for decades - not that I'm sure that proves anything one way or another...

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  7. #7
    Michael Garrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    It's Ok to use caulk to seal that small gap between the lintel and the brick.Do not caulk the weep hole.There is already a small bed of mortar between the lintel and the brick. Geocel have some great products..Just don't caulk the weep hole.
    Don't like caulk,then re-grout the joint.Just don't fill in the weep hole.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Obviously the wall is taking in water, there are too many possibilities of 'from where'. Bad flashing, no through wall flashing, no admix in the mortar, porous brick, no good drainage plane, exposed CMU at the roof side of the parapet, etc.
    That is not as difficult to figure out as brick veneer (we are talking about brick veneer and not a structural brick, multi-wythe wall) DOES allow water through the brick veneer.

    That is a simple and well known fact, and the reason the air space is required and a WRB (felt, Tyvek, etc.) is required.

    Water WILL go through:
    a) the brick
    b) the mortar
    c) the microscopic (and larger) crack between the brick and the mortar
    d) that is how a brick veneer wall works

    Water WILL (with a properly constructed wall):
    e) run down the drainage plane (the back side of the brick veneer by gravity
    f) bridge over to the WRB from the drainage plane over the brick ties
    g) bridge over to the WRB from the drainage plane over mortar which was not trimmed off as required and over mortar which was allowed to accumulate within the air space (making the air space no longer an "air space")
    h) run down to the lintel/other support
    i) weep out not just the weep holes but under the brick and under the mortar bed

    If you could the front edge along the line i), the water will be trapped on top of the lintel, and that is not a good thing.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    Michael Garrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    In a properly constructed wall moisture will gravitate to the weep holes.If water is coming out between the steel and brick then the wall has sprung a leak somewhere and repairs are needed.If you want to dress up your old building,a little caulk is OK.Just do not plug up the weep holes.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Garrity View Post
    In a properly constructed wall moisture will gravitate to the weep holes.
    When enough water collects along the bottom of the air space, yes, the water will migrate to the brick, however, the water will also migrate (i.e., "weep") out under the first course bed mortar as the water migrates horizontally along the mortar to the closest weep holes.Water does not magically drain down the back side of the brick to only the weep hole locations.

    If water is coming out between the steel and brick then the wall has sprung a leak somewhere and repairs are needed.
    To the contrary, water coming out (better wording is "weeping out", because if "water is coming out" as you stated, then you would be correct, SOMETHING HAS SPRUNG A LEAK, and that something is not the wall, but something else) ... thus ... if water is weeping out between the steel and the brick, then the wall has drained water down the back side of the brick as the brick veneer is designed to allow, and no repairs are needed.Now, regardless if there are or are not weep holes, if the through the wall flashing is not visible projecting through under the mortar, yes, repairs are needed - but we have had this discussion recently ... repairs are needed, but unlikely to be made.

    If you want to dress up your old building,a little caulk is OK.
    Just as long as you also understand that you will be causing the steel lintels to rust out sooner, yeah, go ahead and caulk away to your heart's content.

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

  11. #11
    Michael Garrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    why put weep holes if water can seep out under the brick?In properly constructed wall the moisture will come out of the weep holes and not under the brick.


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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Garrity View Post
    why put weep holes if water can seep out under the brick?
    Because where there is a large amount of water in the wall cavity, such as after heavy and long duration rains and the like, the weep holes will allow more out faster.

    In properly constructed wall the moisture will come out of the weep holes and not under the brick.
    You keep saying that but you have not yet explained how the water knows to go and find a weep hole.And why there would need to be a through wall flashing under the brick and over the lintel as the water will know to go find a weep hole.Or explain the magic behind the weep hole spacing as it relates to the gravity flow or water.Or explain why water will not weep out the nearest and easiest path.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Garrity View Post
    In properly constructed wall the moisture will come out of the weep holes and not under the brick.
    Michael,
    Do you have a diagram or installation instructions that shows how a properly constructed wall directs the moister to the weep holes?


  14. #14
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    JP: See you're still at it over here . . .

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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    "Relax its just caulk!" Isn't that what the contractor said to his new young apprentice?


  16. #16
    Joao Vieira's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Like someone else said don't caulk the weep holes.

    if there is money:
    -Remove masonry,
    -Get rid of the surface corrosion and apply marine anticorrosionn coating with sealer
    -Install flashing with end dams
    -Re-install masonry leaving weep holes.

    This is a well known problem all over the place/ world?/

    Someone should come up with aluminum or stainless steel requirements so we could call them aluminum or s steel lintels, if wasn't for the money


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Joao Vieira View Post
    Someone should come up with aluminum or stainless steel requirements so we could call them aluminum or s steel lintels, if wasn't for the money
    This is another case where the US is decades behind the parts of rest of the world: do a search for "stainless steel lintel" or "composite lintel" and you will get dozens of hits from the UK, and if you search German and French language sites you will similarly get many hits.

    A Mason told me a while back that are carbon-fiber lintels intended for brick veneer construction available in the US - he said the material was expensive but the labor savings were considerable as one man could handle a 10 or 15 foot lintel single-handed - but I've never been able to find more information about them.

    Michael Thomas
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    This is another case where the US is decades behind the parts of rest of the world: do a search for "stainless steel lintel" or "composite lintel" and you will get dozens of hits from the UK, and if you search German and French language sites you will similarly get many hits...
    Yes, but those are SOCIALIST lintels and Real Americans won't have anything to do with them.

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  19. #19
    Michael Garrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Maybe the President should include lightweight lintels in the health care bill.


  20. #20
    Joao Vieira's Avatar
    Joao Vieira Guest

    Default Re: Lintels Damaged

    Maybe the President should include lightweight lintels in the health care bill.
    sure, might as well blame the President

    But we may have just found one of the far too many items that are overlooked everyday in the construction world here in the US. No, not all roses smell well.

    I have seen several concrete lintels overseas with a row of soldier brick veneer attached by masonry ties on the outside face of the wall without any metal support. Provided that this might be the opposite extreme condition, the bricks and mortar joints seemed pretty stable.

    Just for sake of clarification I must say that I don't think that things are overall worst or better here in the US than any other part of the world. Life is just structured differently overseas.


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