I've been in a home for one year now, that was built 8 years ago. The
garage has a brick gable, with a window in the middle, above it. It
appear that the lentil that the building company put in is not strong
enough to support all of that weight and is starting to sag in the
middle which has caused the brick above it to start separating (one
large verticle crack from the window and growing larger as it moves
down to the lentil. My QUESTION is, what is the best and cheapest
repair for this. I've had a range of recommended fixes from taking
all of the bricks out and replacing the lentil, to putting in
lagger(?) bolts and tuck points(?). Is the latter option just a short
term fix? Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks, Daniel
It's lintel, not lentil. I worked for a general contractor way back
when, we did a few jobs where we changed the overhead door on
commercial buildings and had to take the brickwork out to modify the
opening (generally to make it taller). Assuming this is brick veneer
and not structural brick, I would remove the brick back far enough to
put in a new lintel, then replace the brick. Make sure you save as
much of the brick as possible so it will match when you put it back
up. You probably want to get a civil engineer or architect to do the
calculation for a replacement, especially if you're in a hurricane or
earthquake area. There can be considerations other than the weight it
supports, so don't let another contractor make a poor choice. You can
probably tear everything out yourself and set the lintel if you're
ambitious, but laying brick takes a fair bit of skill, probably not a
DIY project. You should probably also think about shoring up the
middle of the existing lintel until you can get this repaired. It
could cause quite a bit more damage (and maybe injury) if it fails
before you get it fixed. You could buy a basement support column and
put it in the middle of the span, that should stabilize it for awhile
and still allow you to use the garage.
Can't tell w/o seeing but almost certainly you'll have to get to it to
either add structure or replace it for a permanent fix. If it is
steel and accessible from below and you have clearance over the garage
door, I suppose it would be theoretically possible to add some
additional strength there but you still need a structural guy to come
look and determine what is the root cause and the needed fix.
As a note, "best" and "cheapest" are almost always dichotomous notions
and I suspect that is the case here...
Onions are not a good choice for structural materials.
Is the structure double-wythe brick, or a brick facade
over a wood frame? Are you sure the crack is because
the lintel isn't adequate, and not because the whole
foundation is moving, or because the roof
is spreading the tops of the bearing walls?
The fact that the crack started at the window makes me
a little suspicious. If it was sagging, I'd expect the
crack to start at the top of the door and work it's
way up. Does a straightedgee show sagging?
How much headroom do you have
in the doorway? Is the room above the garage finished space,
or can you get at the structure from the inside?
How much ugly are you willing to put up with?
If you can spare the headroom, the SIMPLEST fix
would be to jack the middle of the door back into
place, and weld a big chunk of angle iron to the
underside of the existing lintel to
reinforce it. I'd seriously consider
running cable and a turnbuckle under the window
across the whole width of the garage, while you're
Thanks for your reply. The crack actually started at the headers, I
just wasn't clear in my explanation. And yes, the beam does show
obvious sagging. You mentioned the roof possibly spreading the tops
of the bearing walls. Can you explain to me in more detail? I've got
a structural engineer coming out today to look at the problem and I'll
be curious to see if he mentions that.
Most brick veneers houses are poorly done. Visit www.bia.org to read the
tech reports to learn how brick veneer should be installed. The lintel
could be too thin or not long enuf. Also the masonry is supposed to be
fastened to the wood house studs every couple feet. Since most builders put
opaque paper on top of the sheathing before bricking it up, how could the
masons possibly know where the studs are unless they are marked on the paper
(never done). On top of that, many masons leave out flashing around doors
and windows and leave weepholes plugged. I had all of these defects in my
new home and had to hire a mason for big bucks to fix them all. That is why
I will never again buy a brick veneer house.
You made an interesting point that the masonry "is supposed" to be
fastened every couple of feet. If I find out this is not the case, is
the home builder somehow liable for this problem? The house is only 8
years old and it's my understanding that under Oklahoma state law,
home builders are required to have a 10 year warranty on their homes
(looking into the details of this). Any thoughts? I'm hoping for an
inexpensive fixso that I don't have to go the legal route.
The number of brick ties to sheathing will have very little to do
with your problem. The lintel is just not right. The wood was
probably undersized, wrong grade, or wrong species. The lintel
iron was not strong enough to carry the load. You need to
determine if the wood portion has bowed down to verify the
diagnosis of wrong wood. The fact that the brick has bellied says
the steel lintel was undersized. The two should not have been
tied together in my opinion. One of many reasons I don't like
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
replying to Daniel Fenner, Houstonbrick wrote:
We see this problem often here in Houston,TX..We are a small masonry repair
contractor in Spring, TX..There are very few options available. If there is a
way to access your home warranty, you could ask them to repair. Second option is
to call someone like us. We would demolition 2 to 3 feet of garage and replace
lentil with stronger back. A stronger piece of iron the is 4 inches on one side
and the other side 5 to 6 inches. If the masonry above garage is attached well
with wall ties,there is a possibility that entire gable will have to come down.
This is not a DIY project. It's best to call a pro. In our area it is considered
an extensive repair. You can expect to pay 3200 to 7000. There really is no easy
way to do it right. The guys at www.masoncrew.net are wonderful and you can
trust them to give you a free evaluation if you send pictures.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.