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  1. #1
    Jennifer L's Avatar
    Jennifer L Guest

    Default Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    We are in the process of purchasing a 1993 house in Georgia. We just had the inspection done on Friday. The inspector did a thorough job and found two things about the brick veneer exterior.

    • The wall sheathing and vapor barrier are installed against the brick (meaning there is very little air space in between) which can be seen in the attic. See attached photo.
    • There are no weep holes installed on the brick.
    Per inspector, new construction requires weep holes and at least an inch space between the brick and wall sheathing.

    The house has been recently painted (both interior and exterior) so the inspector couldnít tell whether there has been any water/moisture issue or not.

    How bad are these two findings? Should we stay away from this house? If we decide to go ahead and purchase the house, whatís the remedy?

    Any information or suggestion is greatly appreciated. The due diligent period on the purchase contract is about to run out so we need to decide soon.

    Thanks.
    Jennifer


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Hello Jennifer

    How bad are these two findings?
    Hard to say, may have little effect or could be the cause of many headaches.

    Should we stay away from this house?
    Only you can decide that.

    If we decide to go ahead and purchase the house, whatís the remedy?
    There is no practical fix for these problems.

    FYI, many, many, many houses have been build like that, most have not had a problem YET.
    What does your inspector say?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    Jennifer L's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Rick,

    Thanks for the quick reply. My inspector said that weep holes could be added easily but there was no solution for the air space issue. After reading another thread here on weep holes, it doesnít seem to be that easy to add weep holes.

    In case we have water/moisture issue in the future, how much of the repair cost (ballpark figure) are we talking about? The house is a two-story house, about 2000 sq ft per story.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    "My inspector said that weep holes could be added easily..."

    This makes me question the inspectors knowledge, adding weep holes is not easy, at least not that I know of.

    "In case we have water/moisture issue in the future, how much of the repair cost (ballpark figure) are we talking about? The house is a two-story house, about 2000 sq ft per story. "

    I don't think that anyone can give you an estimate for a repair that might be needed sometime in the future, I know I can't.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  5. #5
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    My inspector said that weep holes could be added easily...
    Since the weep hole itself is no more than void in the mortar I guess drilling out the mortar is easy enough, which is probably what your inspector was saying. The problem is that the weep holes are only one part of a system, so without flashing and a drainage plane (air space) the weep holes are useless.

    As Rick said only you can decide weather to buy the house or not, but keep in mind that there is not an easy fix (which is a huge understatement) and if you buy this house when you decide to sell it, this will be an issue then as well.


  6. #6
    Bob White's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Jennifer ---

    You can go to the Brick Industry website and click on Tecnical paper #7 in the left border to read about drainage planes, weep holes, flashing ... and other stuff. The illustrations give you much useful information.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    "My inspector said that weep holes could be added easily..."

    This makes me question the inspectors knowledge, adding weep holes is not easy, at least not that I know of.
    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    Since the weep hole itself is no more than void in the mortar I guess drilling out the mortar is easy enough, which is probably what your inspector was saying.
    If that is what the inspector was saying, like Rick, I would question the inspector's knowledge ...

    There is no easy fix for missing weep holes, and "drilling out the mortar" is absolutely not a way as the damage caused by attempting to do this will only create larger problems ... and that is presuming that the flashings/WRB are even in there.

    As stated, there is no air space to speak of, which makes that a real potential for real big problems.

    There are basically 3 options:
    1) Deconstruct the brick veneer wall, install a proper footing for the brick veneer, install a proper WRB, make sure there is a proper 1 inch minimum air space, then properly reconstruct the brick veneer wall.
    2) Paint the outside with an elastomeric paint and suffer the consequences of that.
    3) Do nothing and cross your fingers.

    1) will be quite expensive.
    2) will lead to 1).
    3) may lead to 1).

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

  8. #8
    Jennifer L's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Thanks everyone for the replies. I leaned more about bricklaying than I could ever imagine. I always thought brick was the simplest choice for the home exterior. Even though my inspector didnít know much about the importance of air space and weep holes, I am glad that he discovered the lack of them during the inspection.

    The 3 options listed by Jerry presented a clear picture for us. Looks like no air space is a bigger problem than no weep hole. How can we tell whether there has been any moisture problem or not? Besides basic home inspection, is there any moisture inspection? If so, how do I find someone who offers this type of inspection?

    Thanks,
    Jennifer


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer L View Post
    Thanks everyone for the replies. I leaned more about bricklaying than I could ever imagine. I always thought brick was the simplest choice for the home exterior. Even though my inspector didnít know much about the importance of air space and weep holes, I am glad that he discovered the lack of them during the inspection.

    The 3 options listed by Jerry presented a clear picture for us. Looks like no air space is a bigger problem than no weep hole. How can we tell whether there has been any moisture problem or not? Besides basic home inspection, is there any moisture inspection? If so, how do I find someone who offers this type of inspection?

    Thanks,
    Jennifer
    Most experienced inspectors will use moisture meters if they feel that the have a issue that needs diagnosing or just out of curiosity.

    Post the town or city that you are looking to buy in and I bet we can get you the name or two of some experienced inspectors.

    Out of pure curiosity would you mind sharing how much you paid for the inspection and the size of the home?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    I am missing somethng here? Doesn't the code allow mortar or grout fill as an alternative for the air space. I'm not saying that's the way to go... I know that the WRB is still required, but is it possible that there is one? I couldn't tell from the pic (or if it was cut out) if it was fully grouted or just too close to the wall?

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    R703.7.4.2 Air space.
    The veneer shall be separated
    from the sheathing by an air space of a minimum of a
    nominal 1 inch (25 mm) but not more than 4
    1/2 inches
    (114 mm).

    R703.7.4. 3 Mortar or grout fill.
    As an alternate to the
    air space required by Section R703.7.4.2, mortar or grout
    shall be permitted to fill the air space .When the air space
    is filled with mortar, a water-resistive barrier is required
    over studs or sheathing. When filling the air space,
    replacing the sheathing and water-resistive barrier with a
    wire mesh and approved water-resistive barrier or an
    approved water-resistive barrier-backed reinforcement

    attached directly to the studs is permitted.

    The 1"(+) air space can be filled, however there is still the 1" space, just filled.
    What is shown in the photo is no air space.


    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    R703.7.4.2 Air space.
    The veneer shall be separated

    from the sheathing by an air space of a minimum of a

    nominal 1 inch (25 mm) but not more than 4
    1/2 inches
    (114 mm).
    R703.7.4. 3 Mortar or grout fill.


    As an alternate to the
    air space required by Section R703.7.4.2, mortar or grout
    shall be permitted to fill the air space .When the air space
    is filled with mortar, a water-resistive barrier is required
    over studs or sheathing. When filling the air space,
    replacing the sheathing and water-resistive barrier with a
    wire mesh and approved water-resistive barrier or an
    approved water-resistive barrier-backed reinforcement
    attached directly to the studs is permitted.

    The 1"(+) air space can be filled, however there is still the 1" space, just filled.
    What is shown in the photo is no air space.

    Thanks Rick, that clears that up... but what would the difference be in having a 1/2" air space if it gets filled with grout? The air space is gone no matter what size it is.


    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    I do not know the answer to your question.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    R703.7.4.2 Air space.
    The veneer shall be separated
    from the sheathing by an air space of a minimum of a
    nominal 1 inch (25 mm) but not more than 4
    1/2 inches
    (114 mm).

    R703.7.4. 3 Mortar or grout fill.
    Snipped
    So, a filled space would make weep holes and associated flashing unnecessary?

    Dummy question here: How is one to ascertain the construction method in a visual inspection? Is there a deficiency to report or not if I see brick veneer without weep holes? When the brick is a front surface veneer and the sidewall is covered with siding, sometimes there is a gap (that should be caulked) that may be wide enough to peek into. But - if there is no gap what does one report?

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    So, a filled space would make weep holes and associated flashing unnecessary?

    Dummy question here: How is one to ascertain the construction method in a visual inspection? Is there a deficiency to report or not if I see brick veneer without weep holes? When the brick is a front surface veneer and the sidewall is covered with siding, sometimes there is a gap (that should be caulked) that may be wide enough to peek into. But - if there is no gap what does one report?
    With no airspace and the bricks directly applied, think of it as a stucco wall. It will act just about the same with moisture and how it deals with it. I have only seen a handful of homes built that way and if I recall they were all by the same builder in Vicksburg MS.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    "So, a filled space would make weep holes and associated flashing unnecessary? "


    I did not see an exception for no weep holes.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    The 1"(+) air space can be filled, however there is still the 1" space, just filled.
    What is shown in the photo is no air space.


    That is not what is shown in the photo.

    The photo shows an air space with the mortar not cut off during the laying of the brick, which allows the mortar to bridge the air space.

    If you were looking at a grouted space you would not see the brick at all, just solid grout.

    That wall was, quite simply, completely and totally constructed wrong.

    No weeps holes are needed for grouted walls as no through wall flashings are needed for solid walls and weep holes are only required above the through wall flashings to drain out the water which ran down the back side of the brick within the 1" air space, and, with no air space, there is no place for the water to run down and no through wall flashing for the water to be drained out - thus no weep holes are required for a solid grouted wall.


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

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    "No weeps holes are needed for grouted walls as no through wall flashings are needed for solid walls and weep holes are only required above the through wall flashings to drain out the water which ran down the back side of the brick within the 1" air space, and, with no air space, there is no place for the water to run down and no through wall flashing for the water to be drained out - thus no weep holes are required for a solid grouted wall."

    That makes sense, but it's not how I understand the code to read.
    I did not see an execption for not putting in flaching or weep holes.
    If I missed it will you point it out for me? Thank you.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    The delineation in what is required for cavity walls (air space) and fully grouted walls (no air space as it is grouted full) has never been well spelled out as most construction uses cavity (air space) walls.

    Even the Brick Institute of America only briefly touches on what is required for grouted walls in relation to what they cover on what is required for cavity walls. Here is but one example ( http://www.gobrick.com/BIA/technotes/TN7.pdf ), and in it you will find a small mention of grouted walls and a small mention of flashings, but not to the extent that it gives any detail at all, and no mention of weeps (weeps would not do any good in grouted walls).

    A good comparison would be Figure 9 on page 5 of 9 where it shows the through wall flashing at the top of the grouted section/bottom of the cavity section above. The weep holes would go in the head joints in the first course above (laid on) the through wall flashing.

    Also read the weep hole section (Weeps) and you will find more than just the 33 inches maximum spacing between weep holes which makes that 33 inches meaningless as in most cases you will see that the weep holes should be much closer together.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Jennifer all the information listed in this post has very strong points. but the bottom line is this could be a large expense to fix this issue. Its has 2 points for you to think about.

    1. If you buy and do nothing for 10 years or more and then sell and the next guy buys the home and there is no problems life is good.

    2. You buy the home and next year you find black spots on the lower inside wall board behind the brick. So now your looking at the cost of removing all the brick, and adjacent materials, removing all the adjacent sheet rock and insulation and then building this area back new. Whats the cost of all that ?

    $ 15K $ 25k $ 35K you need to now what the costs are before you buy and then you can say its worth the gamble. or

    For me in this market I would want something back from the seller.

    like 1/2 the cost for repairs.

    Best

    Ron


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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    Its has 2 points for you to think about.

    1. If you buy and do nothing for 10 years or more and then sell and the next guy buys the home and there is no problems life is good.

    2. You buy the home and next year you find black spots on the lower inside wall board behind the brick. So now your looking at the cost of removing all the brick, and adjacent materials, removing all the adjacent sheet rock and insulation and then building this area back new. Whats the cost of all that ?
    3. "If you buy and do nothing for 10 years or more and then sell and the next guy buys the home and ... " wants you to tear the wall down and rebuild it properly. Which the buyer could ask of you as the seller, just like you could ask the seller to do so. Something to also consider.

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

  22. #22
    Jennifer L's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Thanks everyone for the information and suggestions. We have backed out of the contract. Even though we love the house and it's hard to walk away, I think we made the right choice.

    Thanks,
    Jennifer


  23. #23
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Brick Veneer: Air Space and Weep Holes

    Post mortem question.
    What procedure / method did the original inspector use to determine that there was no air space?


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