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My home is brick veneer (one layer). Interior is all drywall, mostly put up by the people who sold me the house 4 years ago (it was a flip).

We're in Tampa, so we get a lot of rain, but the only time we had a problem was during hurricane Irma. With hours of driving rain, water began to get through the brick and under our floorboards and carpet on one side of the house.

This leads me to believe the renovators did not install proper flashing behind the brick before handing the new drywall (there also don't appear to be many weep holes, so there may never have been).

From doing research, it seems my options are a) remove all the drywall and install proper flashing and weep holes, or b) apply a sealant to the exterior brick.

So I really have two questions: 1) Which method of preventing future leaks is optimal (optimal in this case not meaning purely 'most effective,' but more like 'most effective for the effort' - removing all the drywall is a tall order, but if sealant is ultimately pointless, it would still be optimal)? 2) Who should I hire (if anyone) to do it? I'm not not handy, but this is kind of a big deal. If I'm going with sealing, for example, is there someone more qualified/specialized than a generic 'handyman?' My understanding is that it has to be done very thoroughly and correctly. When I looked at masons in my area, none of them seemed to offer that service.

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  • Brick, veneer or otherwise is NOT in any way watertight. There should be a moisture barrier behind the brick to catch any infiltrating water and allow it to rain out the bottom. This is the reason why there are "weep" holes at the bottom of the brick installation. These allow water to drain.
    – jwh20
    May 7 '20 at 21:22
  • I'm going to suggest what is probably something you don't want to do but really need to, that is to REMOVE the brick, install proper weatherproofing, and then replace the brick. Anything else is going to be a shortcut that will not yield satisfactory results and will end up being a waste of time and money.
    – jwh20
    May 7 '20 at 21:23
  • A hurricane is not normal weather and even properly flashed and sealed homes can have leaks with extreme events. I have seen where water was blown in through soffit vents (enough to damage the Sheetrock along 1 side of my aunts house) I did not believe it at first but after helping to do the repair work it became obvious that was where the water entered and the eves were 24” overhang you may have a similar issue, don’t be two quick to jump to a conclusion.
    – Ed Beal
    May 8 '20 at 14:08
  • jwh20, The brick veneer makes up the entire house exterior - ~175' of one-story wall. Would removing and replacing the brick really be more effective than removing the drywall and install proper weatherproofing from the inside? Also, to your first point, I am aware there_should_ be a moisture barrier; I'm afraid the folks who renovated didn't do things properly (which would be in keeping with a number of other things they did improperly).
    – Sven3B
    May 8 '20 at 17:57
  • @Ed Beal, I suppose the water could have come through the soffits. I'd say my primary evidence for the brick penetration theory is that there are hardly any weep holes (or, in reality, candidates for weep holes, because I don't that the holes I see are actually there for that purpose) - maybe two per face of the house. That indicates to me that the house was never properly set up to deal with water penetration.
    – Sven3B
    May 8 '20 at 18:08
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I have brick veneer too, but I have a 1” air space between the veneer and stud wall with plywood covered with a sheet of plastic moisture barrier. This allows any moisture that enters the wall to drain down the 1” void and out the weep holes at the bottom of the wall.

It would be nearly impossible to remove the interior drywall and install a correct system like mine.

Rather, I’d invest in verifying that you do not have any cracks in the mortar joints or between the mortar and brick and then install a clear sealer on the brick veneer.

I’d first hire a masonry contractor to “point” all the mortar joints. Then get the best clear brick sealer with the highest amount of silicone available. (I think mine was 5%.) and hire a painter to install it. They will spray it on and you should make sure they “flood” the brick to the point of refusal. They’ll use a lot, but it’s worth it.

The clear sealer will last 5-6 years, depending on the weather. Be prepared to re-do regularly.

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  • I hadn't thought of hiring a painter for that job, but it makes a lot of sense now that you mention it. Is that something painters do regularly?(in the sense that I should be confident that a painter with a good reputation for competence and thoroughness in regular house painting will also be competent at this?) I'm just very paranoid about hiring people who will say "yeah, sure, we can do that - piece of cake," but don't actually know and just assume they'll figure it out.
    – Sven3B
    May 8 '20 at 18:18
  • First, the brick and mortar must be “perfect”. Make sure your mason does a good job of pointing. Then I’d find a good painter. Flooding the brick with sealer is not difficult, but I’d review the procedure step by step...including quantity used per side of house. (Verify square footage of brick and gallons required...it’ll be in the instructions.)
    – Lee Sam
    May 8 '20 at 22:23

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