Weep Holes In Brick

Don’t weep for your home, let it weep for you.

 

Does your home weep?  If you live in a brick veneer home, the answer better be yes.

What  are weep holes? The short answer is that they allow water to drain out from the inside of the wall, and allow air to circulate on the backside of a brick wall to help dry out the moisture.  They also help to equalize air pressure on both sides of the wall, making it less likely that wind-driven rain will penetrate the wall.

What if I don’t have them.  Is it really a big deal? That’s not an easy question to answer.  However I’ll give you my personal opinion.  Yes, it is a big deal if they are missing, clogged, or not properly installed in the first place.

Let’s get into it: As I  stated above, a weep hole is usually nothing more than a void in a vertical mortar joint around the bottom of a brick wall.  When a brick wall is constructed, there should be an “air gap” between the wooden wall and the brick you see on the outside.  House are built this way because they must breathe.

It’s WHEN, not IF water gets behind the brick veneer that  weep holes become vital.  These little silent soldiers allow air to travel up the backside of the wall and dry out the moisture that has seeped in. Water can infiltrate an area as small as 1/100 of a inch.

Sadly, most homeowners and even some contractors don’t know what weep holes do, or how they work.  This lack of knowledge leads to mistakes like filling the weep holes in, thinking that they were a mistake when the home was built.  You can typically see this because the mortar will be a different shade or color all together.

What if I don’t have weep holes in my brick? If you don’t have weep holes, you might want to consider having them drilled out.  Now, you can’t just go nuts with a drill bit.  There are rules you must follow in order to get the correct results.  If you have done the research and feel confident in tackling your weep hole issue, then by all means get to it.  If not, call a professional.

What can happen if I don’t have weep holes? Unfortunately, there’s not a rock solid answer.  The absence of weep holes may occasionally allow so much moisture to accumulate that metal brick-tie fasteners turn to rust and fall apart, wood-destroying insects are encouraged because of the large amounts  of moisture, or wood rot develops.  The other side of that coin is that occasionally, nothing at all will happen.  It’s really difficult to pinpoint what could happen to a home without weep holes.   Nevertheless, you shouldn’t just turn a blind eye to the issue.  Preventive measures are always cheaper than the aftermath.

This just another prime example of why you should get a home inspection when buying a home.  Many NEWLY constructed homes are missing weep holes.  A quality home inspection can catch things like this, and you can require them to be corrected before you close on the home.  It’s much easier to get things done before you sign the contract.

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Ben Hendricks

owner at ABI Home Services
Hi, I'm Ben, and I inspect houses.I've been in construction since I was a kid, and a professional contractor for 20 years.My blog is here for info about Home Inspections around the Louisville KY area, and just about anything construction related.
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Comments

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2 replies
  1. J.
    J. says:

    Ben,

    I just packed stainless steel mesh into a number of weep holes on my house. Question, will the packed in mesh prevent the flow of air to my foundation? Should I remove the mesh and just spray the weep holes with Raid or some other insecticide to prevent ants from having a super-highway into our home? We live in an area that gets a lot of rain this time of the year. Thanks for your response.

    J.

    Reply
    • Ben Hendricks
      Ben Hendricks says:

      Are you getting lots of insects? Those tiny kitchen ants love weep holes in the Spring/Summer. If it were me, I’d take it out, and have the home sprayed by a pest company if you have those kind of problems. However, weep holes can be a strange thing. I see lots of houses that don’t have them, and show no issue’s from them being missing. So just because you filled them, it doesn’t mean you’ll have problems. But hey, if you have them present, might as well take advantage of them.

      Reply

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