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  1. #1
    Ross Neag's Avatar
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    Default Seal lintel openings?

    Should these areas be caulked to avoid capillary action/surface tension migration of water?

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  2. #2
    thomas mann's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Seal lintel openings?

    I was taught to leave yhem open as pictured


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    If we are discussing the junction between the masonry and the the lintel / flashing, this area should not be sealed - in fact there should be additional drainage at this location in the form of weep holes, see for example page 6-7 here:

    BIA*Technical Notes - OnlineA

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross Neag View Post
    Should these areas be caulked to avoid capillary action/surface tension migration of water?
    Please don't put that in a report! No way your client would know what "capillary action/surface tension migration of water" means!

    As other have said, it should be open and weep holes are missing.

    You need to understand how a shelf angle or lintel is installed and that water is not going to seep into the wall from it, unless it is installed improperly. This site might help Shelf Angles (Brick Industry Association)

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

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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    If the joint looks as good as the picture appears, I wouldn't call it out as a defect. I usually mention to 'monitor' over time and age.
    If the joint is mortared shut, I call it out.
    If it is caulked, I usually leave it alone, depending on what it looks like.
    On older brick/lintel set-ups where deterioration has started, lintel is angled inward, bricks are bowed out, etc. I'll usually recommend customer speak with mason and consider caulking joint to avoid further water run-in/deterioration until repair/replacement takes place.
    It has become more and more common for bricky's to caulk that joint, right or wrong.

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  6. #6
    John Arnold's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    ...
    If the joint is mortared shut, I call it out.
    If it is caulked, I usually leave it alone, depending on what it looks like.
    ...
    Markus - Why do you call it if it's mortared but not necessarily if it's caulked? I thought it was supposed to be open, as previous posts have said.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    John, depending on how the lintel sits leaving the joint open is not such a good thing, it can actually make a problem worse.
    If the joint is caulked, the water runs down the wall, hits the caulk and falls/rolls off
    If the joint is mortared, that mortar tends to 'suck in' the water, which then in turn sits there and contributes to rusting of the lintel.
    As my ancient bricky explained to me (and I have seen often) the mortar between the lintel and brick tends to be less solid than between bricks. Movement, thinness of joint, temp difference between mortar and steel all contribute to that mortar being poor and absorbing water.
    I know that isn't the most scientific answer but it works on the street.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    John, depending on how the lintel sits leaving the joint open is not such a good thing, it can actually make a problem worse.
    If the joint is caulked, the water runs down the wall, hits the caulk and falls/rolls off
    If the joint is mortared, that mortar tends to 'suck in' the water, which then in turn sits there and contributes to rusting of the lintel.
    As my ancient bricky explained to me (and I have seen often) the mortar between the lintel and brick tends to be less solid than between bricks. Movement, thinness of joint, temp difference between mortar and steel all contribute to that mortar being poor and absorbing water.
    I know that isn't the most scientific answer but it works on the street.
    I would think that caulk or sealants would lock the water in. Brick, mortar, etc are porous and water is going to seep in through the brick and the mortar. I couldn't not find anything on the BIA website to support this.

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

  9. #9
    Ross Neag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Thanks Gents.


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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Scott, I don't know what the BIA says about this issue. All I know is what works and doesn't work around here.
    Rusting lintels are a big issue in our area. Lintel replacement costs big money. The problems we have here is that a mortar joint between the brick and lintel never stays tight for long. Essentially, one is attempting to bond (seal) two dissimilar materials, which almost always leads to failure. The joint fails, driving rain/snow get into the joint, lay on the lintel and rust it out.
    Caulk on the other hand will bond to both materials. The caulk will also flex and move as the steel/brick moves with weather changes, thereby staying sealed and prolonging lintel life.
    In older construction here, water needing to come out of the wall at the lintel hasn't been an issue that I know of.
    In new construction masons usually are putting weep holes in a row above the lintel. The lintel/brick joint is then caulked.
    Most guys are using a butyl or solar seal, some urethane.
    There are some still mortaring the lintel/brick joint but it is not a popular method anymore here.

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  11. #11
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    The problems we have here is that a mortar joint between the brick and lintel never stays tight for long. Essentially, one is attempting to bond (seal) two dissimilar materials,
    Actually, the mortar there is not "to bond (seal)" the two dissimilar materials together (mortar does not 'bond' to metal), but for the mortar to serve as a plastic (while not set) material which 'forms to' the brick irregularities and 'forms to' the shape of the support, eliminating 'point contact pressures' which could cause the brick to fail/crack.

    Neither is the mortar there to 'seal' that joint, there should be weep holes there, so there is no need nor reason to "seal" it.

    Caulk on the other hand will bond to both materials. The caulk will also flex and move as the steel/brick moves with weather changes, thereby staying sealed and prolonging lintel life.
    If there were adequate provisions for drainage, i.e., the *required* through the wall flashing which *extends out to the front edge of the steel lintel*, you would not have that problem.

    The 'problem' is not the mortar on the steel, the problem is the mortar on the steel.

    I.e., "the mortar" *should NOT BE ON the steel*, "the mortar" should be on the through the wall flashing, which *should be* on the steel.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
    Brandon Chew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Caulk between the brick/mortar and the lintel will hold water in that gets into the wall from above. This area should not be sealed so that the brick and wall can drain and dry to the outside. Through-wall flashing should be installed on top of any lintel that is not completely protected by an overhang. As Jerry mentioned, this will protect the steel lintel.

    See BIA Technical Note 7 for how to properly detail this area. Note in figure 14 that "sealant" is pointing to the gap between the bottom of the lintel and the window trim.

    Brick Industry Association - BIA


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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Yes, Jerry I am aware that the mortar doesn't actually bond to the steel, poor wording on my part.
    I agree with your criteria Brandon. I think some of the differences are between what gets done in old and new construction. Old const up here won't have flashing, new will.
    Some people are also capping and caulking older lintels to avoid further problems. Muni insp are not happy about this and sometimes make owners remove the capping depending on what the brick looks like. Since once it's capped you can't see what the lintel looks like. Such as so-so or completely rusted out.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Just curious, how many of you ever actually see flashed lintels or weeps at lintels for that matter. It is not done here. Not saying it is right, but I never see it that way. It seems to me that the lintel would drain itself without flashing and with the gap allowing air infiltration into the joint.

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  15. #15
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Just curious, how many of you ever actually see flashed lintels or weeps at lintels for that matter. It is not done here. Not saying it is right, but I never see it that way.
    Not much brick veneer here, but what I see has the flashing, and if not before I see it, it does afterward.

    It seems to me that the lintel would drain itself without flashing and with the gap allowing air infiltration into the joint.
    The problem is not the lintel draining itself (as water does not readily go through metal) it is that the lintel-to-wall joint which needs to be flashed to keep water from going down behind the lintel into the wall below. To do that requires flashing, and that flashing is then required to extend all the way out and over the lintel.

    That was not done many years ago, and that is why you see so many rusting old lintels from back then.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  16. #16
    Mike Schulz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seal lintel openings?

    All homes are done that way here. That is except a few that forgot. Usually at the top of the windows and doors, porches and foundations but some builders are now installing them at the bottom and top of the windows. My home was built in 70 and it has them at the foundation but there not above the windows. No problems yet. I have seen lintel/shelf angles that rusted and popped up the brick.

    Mike Schulz License 393
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