To weep or not to weep!

Here in Oklahoma most of the homes with brick veneer walls have no weep holes. I spoke with a couple Mason’s and they said that they will only build a brick wall with weep holes if the homebuilder or owner ask for them, and very few people ask for them. There is the great debate of there usefullness.

The question is, if a brick veneer wall has no weep holes, and there are no signs of damage,do we put it the report there are no weep holes? What would be the recommendation (monitor in the future?)

I’m a builder and code inspector, not a home inspector, but most national building codes require weep holes in brick for all new construction.

I think, however, that Oklahoma is one of the few states left in the US without statewide mandatory building codes, which makes mandatory implementation of brick weeps a toss up by local jurisdiction.

In lieu of building codes, however, standard building practices established by Brick manufacturer’s usually prevail.

You can find such mandatory requirements for brick weeps cited by the Brick Industry Association at this link for example:

Click on technical papers 7A and 7B for recommended flashing and weep installation procedures for brick veneer.

Thanks good info .
I always look for and write up the condition of weep holes and recommend they do not be closed many think the Brickie missed and they get filled . Weep holes do two things drain the wall cavity and allow the pressure to be the same inside the wall and this lowers the tendency for wind driven water to penetrate the cavity
Roy Cooke

Another reason weep holes are important.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I’ve asked the building inspectors in my area why so many homes are without weep holes, and they acknowledge that they do not enforce the requirements.

Useful articles.

Below is what I say about the lack of weep holes in my reports. The last sentence is occasionally modified if I see moisture damage to the wood. Yes, I put it in the Summary since I refer the client to a specialist. I’m very interested in how others address this and whether or not you perceive it to be a significant structural issue.

“No weep holes were provided in the masonry veneer siding. Today’s standards for new construction require weep holes (not less than 3/16” in diameter) every 33 inches. Flashing is required to direct water toward the weep holes. However, installation of weep holes after construction may cause more damage than benefit (if the flashing is not present it may be inconsequential and if the flashing is present, it may be damaged by drilling into the mortar). You should consult with a licensed and competent masonry contractor about this construction defect, its potential consequences, and the options (if any) for correction. Note: we observed no damage to the structure as a result of this construction defect during the inspection."

Another thread.

I always red flag missing weep holes in veneer brick walls. But make sure the brick wall is not solid brick.

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Without weep holes, there is no easy way for moisture to escape from the cavity behind a veneer brick wall. The Brick Industry Association recommends weep holes be placed on 2 foot centers. Most model building codes permit a spacing of 4 feet on center. I’ve seen unknowing homeowners caulk these holes closed because they thought they were repairing exposed holes in the wall. They are important and must be left open at all times.

Weep holes are required in veneer masonry walls at the top of the foundation wall, below all window and door sills, at the top of all windows, door and any other wall openings, at supporting points, at shelf angles, at copings, projecting trim, wall and roof intersections.

The absence of weep holes occasionally may allow so much moisture to accumulate that metal fasteners turn to rust, wood-destroying insects are encouraged, or rot develops. It is unlikely that a nondestructive visual home inspection will reveal these problems unless they are so severe that cracks in the walls or other manifestations are accessible to visual examination.

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Here is another helpful link regarding proper flashing and weeps:

Joe Funderburk said:

That is simply not acceptable since South Carolina State Code requires weeps and proper flashing in brick veneer.

Yes, I know it happens as you have stated.

See it in my own state…

But it is still unacceptable, and you can always confront the Code Official…

Simple fact is, we all know that bricks are porous and allow water to pass through them, so, without weep holes the drainage plane behind the brick becomes irrelevant and the interior wall will sooner or later suffer the effects of moisture intrusion.

Hey Richard, I feel your pain. I ALWAYS call lack of weep holes in new construction, and give a general heads up about older brick veneer without them. The other thing I always note about brick veneer in OK is that most are built with the brick walls below grade. I put that in my report as well.


The 10 Major Items of Brick Veneer on Wood Frame

  1. You must use continuous flashing under the first course of brick under the sills and heads of windows and doors in a brick veneer wall. Do not use asphalt impregnated felt. Have the flashing extend to the exterior face of the masonry wall. A self adhered bitumen type is preferred (IPCO flashing or W.R Grace Perm-a-barrier) / otherwise set flashing in a continuous bead of sealant to prevent water from finding its way under the flashing.
  1. Install weep holes at 24" on center when using open head joint type weep holes. When using cotton sash cords as a wicking material, space the cords at 16" on center.

  2. For one and two family wood frame construction, the corrugated sheet metal anchor spacing must be one anchor for each 2.67 sq. ft. of wall with a maximum spacing of 32" horizontally and 18" vertically on center with a minimum embedment depth of 1 1/2" into the bed joints for the veneer (with 5/8" mortar cover to the outside face). Also place anchors within 12" of openings.

  3. It is essential to maintain a 1" minimum air space between the back of the brick veneer and the sheathing to ensure proper drainage.

  4. It is recommended to only use Grade SW brick in most climates.

  5. For most brick veneer, Type N mortar is suitable; however Type S may be required. Head joints and bed joints should be full with tooled vee or concave joints.

  6. The exterior face of the poured concrete or concrete block foundation, which the brick veneer sits on , should be in the same plane as the finished brick’s wall plane. The reason for this is to prevent water from traveling horizontally into the building on the projecting concrete ledge. If the concrete wall is that far out of line, the flashing should be set in mastic to prevent water from entering under the flashing. If concrete is out of location, brick can overhang the foun dation by 1/3 bed depth (with 2/3 bearing on foundation) before a shelf angle is needed.

8)The finished grade must be below the weep holes ( preferable 2" to 3" below the flashing line). If brick goes below the flashing, fill the space between the brick and the foundation with grout or mortar.

  1. Make sure the flashing is placed behind the building paper or house wrap. (Not in front of the building paper, or water will run between and appear at the wooden sill plate).

  2. Use flashing end dams at the edges of openings and prefabricated flashing for inside and out side corners.

Talked to a structural engineer today, and he absolutely agreed the lack of weep holes is a serious issue.

I have been a certified bricklayer since 1980. SAIT in Calgary Alta.
I have seen all the good, the bad and the ugly.
Weep holes have been proven to be needed about 30 years ago. Most provinces and states do require them. However in Canada an even better way, rather than leaving a 3/8 gap that a mouse can actually get into (they do not have a fixed skull. the head has movable plates that allow them to squeeze into a hole you would think impossible), is to have a piece of plastic corrugated board fit into the open area. This stops small animals from entering.
I have seen walls where the weep holes are not placed by the masons and the brick was pushed off the wall by water building up and then freezing and pushing the brick off the house.
One thing to be carefull of though is sometimes the masons will cut a small piece of hemp or cotton rope and lay it on the bottom of the cross joint. When the mortar is placed over the rope, it will stay in place and “wick” the water out. After a period of time some ropes will decay and the small hole is not seen, watch for a pencil size hole.
If you cannot see at least a small hole, mention it in your report as something to monitor.

The Mortar Net “weep hole” system referenced in that article: