Brickwork has been tilting outward
24 September 2005
A. Itís not the most common brick problem I run into but I have seen brick act the way it is at your house. The brick detail on the front of your house was a cosmetic trick employed with ranchers of that era to make them visually look closer to the groun d. If the aluminum lap siding ran from the ground up to the eave then the house would look taller and thatís not the look that the designers were going after. The same look can be achieved by changing siding styles such as a three or four foot band of board and batten siding run up from grade to just under the windows and horizontal lap siding above that.
The good news for you is that this brickwork is not integral to the structure of the house so you can relax on that point. If the leaning of the brick away from the house had a deeper structural concern then you would likely see it in the basement. Norm ally when a modern house is going to have a brick face then a thing called a brick-ledge is incorporated into the masonry foundation design. Your basement is block so what the masons would have done was to lay 12 inch thick block up to one or two course s of block from the top of the basement wall then shifted over to 8 inch block for the last courses. Holding the interior block faces even leaves a four inch ledge on the outside for the brick to sit on. If that ledge were failing you would probably se e trouble at those course lines from the basement. Another trick to provide a brick ledge for a light brick siding detail such as yours would be to install an angle iron below grade against the wall and to lay brick upon that. Then, as the brick is being laid up against the house wall and every couple of courses of brick, galvanized metal tabs are nailed into wall studs and bent to sit in the wet mortar between courses of brick to hold the layer of brick steady laterally. These are called brick-ties.
A lot of folks donít know brick veneer is not water tight and brick must have a moisture barrier behind it and the wood house wall. What Iím betting has happened at your house over the last 52 years is those brick-ties have weakened and separated and the ledge upon which the base bricks are set may be giving way and the wall wants to lean away from the house-- and ultimately flop onto the lawn.
If the brick wall is on an angle iron and thatís beginning to fail then the brick should be torn down and either rebuilt with a new attachment or a cosmetic detail of another material be installed to keep the rancher look. Take a shovel and where the lea ning is worst dig down to determine what its bearing material is. If itís block then a system of bolts pulling the wall back into position would be a cure. Locating the exact position and spacing of these bolts might take someone with experience to guid e you. A good mason can help you. You could attempt it yourself and other than dropping the wall on your foot you really couldnít do the house much damage.