Driving rain on brick wall = leaks

rwd_March 29, 2009

I have a 3 year old brick veneer house that gets small amounts of water in the basement only in a sustained driving rain. By small amount I mean less then a gallon total if it rains for 5-10 hours with the wind blowing. The water is coming in under the sill plate and running down the foundation wall.

I was the owner/builder / GC on the job and thought I made sure everything was flashed properly. The bricklayers used a heavy black vynyl (i think) flashing at the sill that was tucked under the Typar wrap. All seams were overlaped and sealed.

I believe the problem is the weep holes. Around here (Chicago suburbs) some builders use small pieces of rope at the bottom of the vertical brick joint on the bottom row of bricks to let the water out and keep bugs out too. Other builders leave one vertical mortar joint open every 2-3 feet open on the bottom row of bricks. They used the rope method with my house and I don't think it's letting the water weep out as planned. After a heavy rain I drilled a hole through a mortar joint next to the rope and water came seeping out. The rope pieces are small, maybe 1/4" diameter. Could this be the problem?

Can anyone recomend what should be done to fix this? Should I apply a sealant like this:


Or, should I drill out new weep holes every 2-3 feet?

Or Both?

Should I be worried about using a brick sealant in a freezing climate? The site listed above says:

"DEFY Water Repellent for Brick treatment is 100% vapor permeable, which allows the water vapors to escape. This reduces costly chimney repair such as spalling, scaling, deterioration, and freeze-thaw damage that results from trapped moisture when clear coatings and water sealers are used for waterproofing brick."

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I've only seen rope used in a plastic tube weep or by itself (poor practice) to keep the weep tube clear or to form the weep. The rope is supposed to be pulled out after the mortar has set up. A rope as a weep would be virtually useless. I would pull it out or drill it out being careful not to penetrate the vinyl flashing.

Another problem could be the vertical depth of the brick shelf. If the brick is not sitting on a 3" or more shelf formed into the foundation, then water could be running horizontally back into the house under (or thorough) the vinyl flashing.

It is also possible that the vinyl flashing has failed. In general, sheet vinyl is not used as through-wall flashing in brickwork because it tears too easily.

The water could also be due to poor drainage around the house. Check the grade slope and downspouts, etc. Take care of the simple issues first.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Thank you mightyanvil, I hoped you would chime in. We just got hit with 4" of wet snow after the rain yesterday but the seepage has stopped. When the weather permits, I will probably go around the house and drill new weep holes. I have some left-over brick that I can measure for width and set up my drill so it only goes so far. My biggest fear is that I could puncture the flashing eeekk!!
My foundation and all of the other homes in this area do not use a "step" in them. They are all flat on top. I see where that would help control the water better but I don't think it's common practice here unfortunatly.

The grading is excellent. All of the water from the downspouts is directed 20' away from the house. The house sits up high on the lot and there is no puddeling near the house.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 12:10PM
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depending on how diligent the masons were about keeping mortar out of the cavity when they constructed the walls, the cavity may be blocked at the weep level.

I agree with anvil. pull the rope. you can put in some stainless steel screens for the bugs.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 2:37PM
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I'm sorry to hear that there is no brick shelf; that presents a problem. Even if you get the cavity to weep there is obviously a path for water to enter the house from the bottom of the cavity. There is either a tear in the vinyl flashing or the water is weeping and then reentering the wall under the flashing and the absence of a step allows water to be drawn by capillary action horizontally into the house.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 4:48PM
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