Under-sized and blocked weep openings (C) Daniel FriedmanBrick Veneer Wall Weep Hole Location Requirements
Masonry veneer wall drain opening details & specifications

  • BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES - CONTENTS: Definition & explanation of brick wall weep holes or weep openings used to provide drainage for the building wall or shell: shell drains & wall drains.
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Proper Location for Weep holes in Brick or other Masonry Veneer Walls:

Here we explain the proper location for weep or drain openings in brick or other masonry veneer walls. We warn against blocking weep openings by placing them below grade or below an abutting sidewalk or patio.

This article series explains the purpose of drainage openings & rain screens in solid brick walls and in some brick veneer walls: brick wall weep holes and recommends their use in new construction and in some brick wall repairs or retrofits.

We explain how these weep or vent openings in brick walls work, where and how they should be installed, and what special products such as opening screens & flashings are available. Page top photo: properly-located but probably too small and clog-prone brick weeps at the bottom of a veneer wall. [Click to enlarge any image].

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Where do the Brick Wall Drainage Openings (Weep holes) Belong?

Brick veneer wall weep opening location details at the supporting steel lintel, adapted from Arumala (2007) (C)

Where do the brick wall weep holes go? At the wall bottom, but above ground level. The spacing of weeps, typically no more than 33" apart, is given in the first article of this series, beginning at BRICK VENEER WEEP HOLE & VENT SPECIFICATIONS.

[Click to enlarge any image]

In the image above you'll see that when the brick veneer is supported by a steel lintel, the weep openings are immediately over the wall bottom flashing that is in turn immediately over the upper surface of the supporting steel lintel. - adapted from Figure 3, "A Typical Section of a Brick Veneer Wall with Steel Stud Backup Wall" - Arumala (2007)

Below is a BIA design detail for draining a brick veneer that sits atop a foundation wall projection.

Brick veneer wall weep opening & other details adapated from BIA Tech Notes 28B Fig 1 as in Arumala 2007 (C) 2016

[Click to enlarge any image]

Above: Brick veneer wall construction details showing weep openings immediately above flashing that is in turn atop bottom brick course of a brick veneer wall constructed over a steel stud cavity wall. These details are for a brick veneer wall that rests atop a masonry foundation on a projecting lip. I'm not sure about that bottom course of brick under the bottom flashing unless the space between the brick and the wall sill is filled-in and waterproof.

This illustration is adapted from BIA Technical Notes 28B, Figure 1 as used in Arumala 2007 cited below. Critical wall bottom flashing is shown in red, brick veneer weep opening locations above the horizontal portion of that flashing are shown in green, and house-wrap / water barrier fabric(s) are shown in dark gray.

In a brick veneer wall resting on the foundation, typically the weep openings and flashings are at the bottom of the brick veneer atop the foundation wall projection, or in some illustrations we see the openings installed one brick course up from the very bottom of the wall.

In a brick veneer wall that rests on a steel lintel, the weep openings are made immediately above the horizontal projection of wall bottom flashing. That flashing itself is above the upper surface of the steel lintel and extends up the wall at least 8" where it is either behind the wall water and air barrier or is sealed to it at the flashing upper edge (for example using flashing tape).

At BRICK VENEER WEEP HOLE & VENT SPECIFICATIONS we provide detailed specifications for the spacing, intervals, and flashing at veneer wall weep openings, drain holes, and vents.

Do not block veneer wall weep openings by outside backfill, sidewalks, etc.

Watch out: do not block the drain opening at brick veneer wall weep openings by back-fill, concrete sidewalk, patio blocks or anything else. Weep openings need to be above grade and un-blocked to function properly.

Carson Dunlop Associates sketch (below) illustrates that it's a bad idea to backfill against a building so that the wall's weep openings are below grade.

Brick wall weep holes below grade (C) Carson Dunlop Assoc

This mistake traps water inside the wall inviting frost damage, building water entry, and insect attack on the building sills and floor framing.

Question: bottom weep holes covered by brick paver unit patio - is that a problem?

Hi there i am a real estate broker and my client has an accepted offer on his house conditional to an inspection the inspector determined that the bottom weep holes of the bricks have been covered by pave unit block terrace by about 3 bricks high (above grade), although the paving people left an air space between blocks the inspector claims it isn't enough, how much empty space must one give to the weep holes for them to function properly - R. by private email to editor 2016/05/03

Reply: perhaps

I can only guess as I have seen nothing about the home in question, but in concept, no amount of space between paving blocks will fix the problem you describe, and much worse, building up a patio against or above the weep holes means that rainfall or melting snow on the terrace is being directed ***into*** the wall structure. There is a distinct probability of water problems including leaks, mold, insect damage, and rot in the home you describe, more so if you're talking about a brick veneer over wood framing.

Any problem can be corrected, it's more a question of urgency, cost, and defining the proper solution.

Missing from your note is information about what evidence the inspector found (if s/he did) of actual effects of the improper construction you describe. It's not the case that every mistake always leads to a catastrophe. If they did, we'd learn more from and pay more attention to good construction practices.

Question: location of weep holes blocked by concrete entry platform or stoop

4/19/2014 Rich said:

A new construction question. The mason contractor installed a brick veneer wall with the appropriate flashing and weep holes at top of foundation.

The bottom two courses of the brick veneer, including weep holes, are below the top of the concrete stoop, when the front door concrete stoop was built.

Should the weep holes have been placed above the finished grade of the concrete stoop a the front door entrance?

Is this a critical issue, having some of the weep holes covered by the concrete stoop?


I need to see some photos or a sketch to understand the question more clearly (use our CONTACT link if you like). Generally if the concrete stoop abuts a brick veneer in a location where the veneer wall is already interrupted by an entry door it may be that those particular weep holes don't have much to do anyway.

I infer from the design you suggest, however, that there may be a concrete entry platform or "stoop" abutting what is basically a wood-framed structure - a design that in some locations may invite termite damage.

Question: how to repair flood-damaged gypsum board sheathing after Hurricane Harvey in 2017

2017/09/26 Andrew said:

We were affected by Harvey. The house flooded (1-2 inches)

The house has a single brick outer wall/veneer

As I have been pulling away the drywall, I have discovered a 2nd layer of slightly thicker/harder gypsum board and then the brick wall

Since the 2nd layer of gypsum board is also showing water damage (and is very brittle) I have removed it in some places.

To my eyes the wall is missing some important elements -
- There is no sort of flashing at the base of the wall do divert water back outside the house
- There is clear water damage to the sill plate of my house - implying that I have had water leakage for a long time.

I am already in a deep hole (everthing ripped out of the house) - but now I see this issue.

Does anyone have any advice of how to add some sort of drainage to my wall to get water away from the house?
I know one option is to tear down the wall and redo it, but the expense of doing this on a 50 year old house is making my cry right now :-(

Would appreciate any help, thanks!

Reply: remove water-damaged gypsum board exterior sheathing to a sufficient height, clean, insulate/seal, change weep hole elevation

Andrew, thanks for asking about the flooded-house-veneer-wall problem as it will help other readers too.

The situation you describe - the second layer of gypsum board behind the brick veneer - if I understand correctly - was a gypsum-board sheathing that was nailed to the outside face of the wall studs before the veneer wall was installed.

That material, where it has been submerged, water damaged, or moldy, all should be removed to a height far enough above the last visible damage (and the high flood line in the home) that when you cut away the gypsum board you find no mold and no water lines on either the interior side nor the exterior side (against the brick veneer). Details are in the second article I refer below.

I have been working on these problems since around 2010. While there is not an absolutely-perfect solution, my best advice is in two articles listed in the "More Reading" links above

BRICK VENEER WALL LEAKS in FLOOD PRONE AREAS - This article discusses things to do before the flood: temporary sandbagging along a veneer wall bottom, for example.

and particularly relevant to what you need to do now in cleaning and repairing your home is

BRICK VENEER WALL REPAIRS in FLOOD PRONE AREAS - This article suggests repair options that include an appropriate amount of demolition of interior drywall and exterior sheathing behind the brick veneer - removed from the inside, cleaning, insulating with closed cell - water-resistant foam insulation, and provision of new higher weep openings in the wall at a location I explain in that article.

This veneer wall repair article describes removing wood- or cellulose- based fiberboard or insulating board sheathing after flooding.

Those same procedures and the same analysis apply to your home where gypsum board sheathing was used instead of fiberboard sheathing on the exterior wall.

Contact me by email using the page top or bottom CONTACT link if you need more advice (after reading the article I recommend), and send me photos of the interior and exterior of your home and of the exposed wall cavity from inside. That may permit me to offer more specific suggestions.


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