Hundreds of times every year, I see homes with brick veneer or stone veneer. Many of the homes in your own neighborhood are constructed this way, too. There's a common misconception that the brick or stone on these walls is in fact, "the wall'. In fact, a recent local news story on an accident that damaged a home called the destoyed wall "a brick wall". The truth of the matter is the brick or stone on almost all homes in our area is simply a facade, a veneer. It is not structural, though it could present evidence of structural defects. But maybe I better stick to the purpose of this blog entry, huh?
Virtually every home older than 5 years that I've inspected with brick or stone veneer has some sort of mortar joint &/or brick damage on the exterior. Most of the damaged areas 'appear' to be insignificant. Spoiler alert! They're not, and I can prove it!
I was recently hired to consult with a property owner on a recurring problem they were having. When I consult with a property owner regarding an issue like this one, they usually have an idea that they have a problem already, and just want my help to recommend a fix.
Above is a photo of a window enclosed on the exterior with wood trim and brick veneer. Looks like any other window in West Texas, right? No visible defects, right?.....
Here, we have the inside wall behind said window. Obvious to at least some folks, there is staining on the baseboard. Cause? Could be a variety of possibilities. Spills on the interior? Pet urine? Leak from the roof?
The next question a professional inspector will ask is, "Is it still wet?" Or, at least, is the moisture level in the drywall above the baseboard, or in the baseboard elevated when compared to the rest of the property?
No fancy tools necessary when you know what to look for. And I do!
Here we have a simple, highly accurate moisture meter, and as you can see, the moisture level in the drywall above the stain reads over 17%. Is that high? Well, compared to the rest of the living area, this reading is nearly 10% higher than other walls with no staining. So, yes, it's elevated.
With the approval of the property owner, we were able to remove the drywall I just tested for elevated moisture levels, along with the insulation in the wall. I then had the property owner use a garden hose to spray the exterior window near the mortar joints to see what happened, as I had my suspicions. You can see water trickling in near the corner of the window/brick veneer junction. A clear sign that the cause of the moisture staining in this room near the window is due, at least in a large part, to the deteriorated mortar joints on the exterior. This property owner recently purchased the property, and is unfortunately looking at major repairs due to moisture damage and possibly termite damage. This could possibly have been avoided if the property had been well maintained, especially the exterior.
The last photo is of the worst case scenario; different window obviously, with major deterioration at the mortar joints. I'm sure you can probably guess that the moisture intrusion damage in the interior near this window was much more severe!
In conclusion, this is a great reminder that moisture will find it's way into your home if you allow it. It's up to each of us to make sure our homes are well maintained!
If you'd like more information, or to schedule a consultation, please feel free to contact me at (806)544-8540 or (432)202-7544
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