Here in Oklahoma we had the largest earthquake in our
recorded history last week. Compared to California it
didn't amount to much, but there was some damage. On
some homes the brick facing came down. It took me
a while to realize that when I saw pictures of those
homes I didn't see any signs of brick straps to hold
the brick up. Am I just missing them, or have they
quit using brick straps? I never even thought
about it before, but in the back of my mind I have
just always understood that brick straps would
always be used with brick facing.
If anybody doesn't know what I am talking about
brick straps are metal straps that are fastened to
the structure of a house at one end. The other
end is mortared in between the bricks to keep the
bricks against the wall.
That is correct - they always should be used and Code requires them.
From the NY version of the IRC:
§RR607.3 Installation of wall ties. The installation of wall ties
be as follows:
1. The ends of wall ties shall be embedded in mortar joints. Wall
ends shall engage outer face shells of hollow units by at least
inch (12.7 mm). Wire wall ties shall be embedded at least 1-1/2
inches (38 mm) into the mortar bed of solid masonry units or
grouted hollow units.
2. Wall ties shall not be bent after being embedded in grout or
The straps don't totally eliminate brick problems from earthquakes,
settlement and freezing/thawing, but they certainly go a long way.
Bricks and earthquakes simply do not go together (or more properly
stay together). A block wall can be dowelled and grouted so they are a
bit more robust, particularly if there is a tie beam and hooks above
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