Steel Lintel

Did an inspection on a brand new home yesterday. Several areas have the lintel above the windows exposed and the steel is rusting. Is this a proper installation? If the lintels are exposed shouldn’t they be painted at least. Would appreciate any input.



Yes, simply recommend the lintels be cleaned, sanded/brushed, primed and painted with a quality rust inhibiting paint. Also, recommend periodic maintenance and touch-up.

Thanks Mike! Appreciate it!

If you are asking who is expected to paint the lintel, check your code. In my area the builder is only required to prime the lintel.

Hi. Harry, nice observation and you are correct.

Brick lintels should always be primed at the minimum to prevent rusting and galvanized would be a luxury but ideal.

This is what happens when steel lintels don’t get primed and painted.



I could also not resist to notice from your pictures that there are no weep holes visible nor evidence that the flashing was installed.

Brick lintels should not be caulked as I see in the photo, that dams up water on the lintel and leaks and/or promotes rusting. In cold climates would present blowouts in some instances.

Also I observed that the window unit is not sealed to the brick.

This is always a recommendation due to the unknown flashing details behind the brick. It also allows water intrusion in the brick cavity, which in this case with no weep holes could and possibly be a potential problem.

Hope this helps a little.

Marcel :):smiley:





I agree that paining is great for those ugly rust spots, but I have a question.

The lintel is inside one layer of brick at least ,correct?
I will assume (yes)

We all agree that water absorbs into the brick along with some air ,right?
I assume (yes)

Therefore the steel lintel is deteriorating inside at all areas not visable right?
I assume (yes)

How do we keep the important unseen supporting section of the steel lintel from rusting.

I do not have a paint brush that fits :slight_smile:

Think of how iron hand rails always rust out where they enter the concrete on the front steps of homes.

You can paint them religously and they still go bad. (because you can’t paint what is embedded).

Bob, how you doing?

I would guess you answered your own question here.

If the brick lintels at the very minimum were primed and a cold galvanize paint used and then painted to a color of easthetics on the visible portion, no problem would be had for years to come and one would not have to assumme anything. They would look in perfect condition inside and out.
The counter flashing is the second form of defense here in protecting the steel lintels, or vise versa I should say.
None is visible in the photos.

The best solution is galvanized steel lintels with flashings.
But I imagine in residential, it is not going to happen, so there be it.
We will continue to note what we see.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :):smiley:

Thanks marcel

I am doing fine, though biz slowed again this week.

I imagine priming the entire thing before install would help, though even that will decompose over time.

Flashing is often done , but not always.

Unfortunatly flashing only protects the top section, as the absorbed stuff will enter the brick from the bottom also.

I remember how years ago I read that a special ceramic would replace steel, but I guess it never amounted to much.

Structural steels are usually hot rolled and contain alloys that aren’t found in cast iron. A unpainted lintel should not rust to quickly, although I agree it should be painted. Hot rolled steel tends to get a surface coating of rust then rust very slowly. Think of a cars frame it’s about 1/8" thick but takes 20 - 30 years to rust out even here in the Chicago area with the salt. But the quality of steel has dropped now that we buy it from China so lintels installed today may not last as long as the lintels installed in the 1940’s.

Masons in Florida have no idea what a weep hole is. I have never seen weep holes on a brick house that I have inspected. Of course we don’t have many brick homes in Central Florida.

True, though I need to get rid of my beloved 92 Ford Aerostar soon due to all the ugly rust at the bottom.(whata work horse it (is) has been).

I guess nothing can be done to really fully protect the lintels, but I wonder how much just having top flashing helps.

Seems it would protect the material on the building side , but not the actual steel.

My thought (no not an expert) is that the flashing would act much like an upside down vapor barrier in insulation and trap the water rather than allow it to evaporate from the lintel.(because it is still getting wet from absorbtion)

I hope that makes sense.I(I may be on the wrong track, but think about what I said first).

I am guessing with this theory that the evaporation is slowed by the moisture barrier, which is meant to protect the brick or sheathing behind it

Hi. Greg, and hope you are doing well and fine.

Interesting you say that, for in 1970 I was a Union Carpenter in the Orlando Region and now that you mention it, there was no brick, ha. ha.

Homes were all Concrete masonry Units. (cmu). For me that was an experience never forgotten.

Thanks for jogging the memory.

Marcel :):smiley:

You guys are correct there were no weep holes on this brand new home. I did an inspection on a 8 year old home the next day with brick veneer and it did have weep holes. Of course that is the first home in 8 years of inspections that has had weep holes.

You must see mostly, homes over 40 years old.