Since the 1960s, the majority of brick homes have been built using brick veneer rather than the traditional "double-walled" brick construction. A brick veneer wall is constructed over a wood or masonry framed house. It is made up of solid bricks connected by mortar, but separated from the home by an air space of several inches, which helps to keep moisture from penetrating the interior walls of the home. A series of openings, known as weep holes, are installed along the bottom of the wall to help with drainage.
Things You'll Need
- Metal flashing
- Anchors or fasteners
- Building paper or poly
- Staples or nails
- Brick ties
Installing Weep Holes in New Construction
Check to see how far your existing foundations extend beyond the walls of your home. Most concrete foundations will extend several inches to a foot beyond the home's footprint. If yours extends at least 6 inches, you can safely install brick veneer. If not, add a steel support bracket at the base of your wall to support the veneer. Anchor this bracket to the wall using a steel masonry anchor.
Install your first row of brick on top of the foundation or support bracket. The Brick Institute of American recommends a 2-inch air gap between the walls of the home and the face of the brick. Use mortar to hold the brick in place.
Add metal flashing to the inside of the air cavity. This flashing will direct moisture away from the house and out through the weep holes. One end of the flashing should be fastened to the top of your first row of brick. It should extend over the bricks and past the face of the veneer wall. The other end should be fastened to the walls of the home.
Cover the walls of the home with building paper or polyethylene sheeting. This moisture barrier should cover the entire area where the flashing hits the wall, including both where it is fastened and where it extends up the way for any distance. Staple or nail the building paper in overlapping rows across the entire wall surface. It should extend all the way to the eaves at the top of the wall.
Install your second row of brick over top of the flashing. Skip every other brick to create equally-spaced weep holes along the entire base of the wall. Some installers recommend simply leaving out vertical mortar joints, but these joints often become blocked by mortar that falls from further up along the wall. By leaving out entire bricks, you can minimize the risks that your weep holes will get clogged.
Continue installing rows of brick using mortar. Add brick ties every four to five courses to fasten the brick to the house. Use screws or anchors to connect the ties to the home, and lay the other side of the tie between the rows of brick so that it is embedded in the mortar. Brick ties should be installed at least every two feet across the width of the wall.
Repeat Step 3 to add flashing at the top of all window and door openings. Make sure the flashing extends beyond the face of the veneer. Cover this flashing with a full row of bricks, but leave out the vertical mortar joints between every other brick. These small openings are not likely to become clogged by mortar, and will serve as a second set of weep holes.
Making Weep Holes in Existing Walls
Check carefully for weep holes. Some may contain thick white ropes that help to wick moisture, and may conceal the holes. If your wall was built without weep holes, you can either add a set of vents or retrofit the wall.
Purchase a brick vent. Use a circular saw with a masonry blade to cut out a single brick from the fourth or fifth course of your wall. Install the vent and seal it with mortar or caulk. Repeat this process to add vents every six to eight feet across the wall. These vents will help with many moisture problems in veneer walls.
Consider retrofitting the wall to add weep holes at the base and at the top of doors and windows. This is an expensive and time consuming process, because you will have to add flashing as well as weep holes. You'll have to remove a small area of bricks at a time, install flashing, add weep holes, then replace the brick. This process is repeated in small sections until all flashing has been added. The Brick Institute of America offers an excellent resource for retrofitting weep holes.
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