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Question DetailsAsked on 9/15/2014

What is the best way to repair sagging brick over French Doors?

We had French Doors installed probably 20 yrs ago to replace a single side entry door. The exterior of the house is brick. I have just noted that the row of brick above the doors now is sagging some towards the middle and there is a 1/4" or larger gap between the mortar and the brick. I can see a crack line along the mortar edges going up stair step fashion about 3-4 rows. Not sure if the wood framing is rotting, sounds kind of hollow when tapped. Do not notice any sticking or rubbing of the door and nothing noted on the inside of the house. This may have been present for many years, but I have never noticed till just now.

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2 Answers

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They should have installed a steel ledge (commonly a wide-leg piece of angle iron bolted to the header), called in the trade a "lentil", under the bottom course of brick - though commonly covered over with a trim piece of wood. This provides bottom support for the brick. You may or may not have that, or after 20 years the supporting bolts through it into the header may have rusted away.


Anyway, your brick facade (hopefully it is a facade, not solid brick if it is failing like that) is collapsing off the wall - probably because of bond failure if mortared to the wall, or due to tieback failure if proper tieback anchors tothe studs were installed and grouted into the joints.


Either way, you have a problem that needs fixing ASAP, and you should immediately get a vertical support post or two under the opening to support the brick till a Mason can fix it. If solid brick house then a couple of 4x4's at third points would probably do for the short term. If wood frame house with brick facade, then this is an architectural facade failure not a structural one, so a couple of 2x4's under a crosswise piece of 2x or even 1x material to support the brick would be a good idea - do not drive them in hard because you could knock the brick free the rest of the way - just support it where it is at as much directly under it as possible, though a slight toe-out angle on the post would be OK if restrained from slipping out. Toenail to decking, or if concrete or brick deck/porch maybe put a doormat or such under the posts to provide friction so the toe does not kick out. And don't use that door till fixed, and block off from both sides with rope or surveyors tape so no one can get hit by falling bricks, because from your description bricks could fall loose at any time - it is likely just friction fit betweenthe bottom bricks that are preventing them from falling. Andyou want to prevent any bricks from falling out, because depending on severity of the issue, you could get a house of cards situation where the facade would progressively fall off as it loses support from below.


Because you say the door still operates fine, I am pretty sure it is just a brick facade, not solid brick wall, because if solid brick was failing like that one would expect it to have put load on the doorframe and jammed the door. Also, sounding hollow almost assuredly means it is a brick facade - which probably means it had no or insufficient ties when intalled, and/or no lentil.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Thank you for your detailed response. It is a brick facade. It appears to be a couple of 6ft 2x4's supporting the brick and the boards are beginning to sag in the middle. The door is west facing and gets all the wind, rain and snow and hot sun. Will call mason immediately.

Answered 4 years ago by gigi1954

0
Votes

OK - remember this slab of facade, possibly quite a few square feet of it, could fall at any time. I would slip sheets of plywood (best) or at least tape flattened cardboard boxes across the outside of the doors to protect them in case it does fall- even flattened boxes taped to the outside of the door with duct tape would be better than nothing. Do NOT stand right under the facade while doin this. I would also tape or nail cardboard or a quilt or blanket or such across the inside of the doors so if it does fall and break the glass, the glass does not fly into the room.


If mason is not coming today, I would then cut a couple of 2x4's or larger to gently prop up under the existing 6 foot 2x4's - don't drive it in or the facade could fall - just enough to hold help supportthe sagging 2x4's and hold in place till mason can remove the detached bricks. If you can't do this, a Handyman or maybe a house-handy neighbor could.


If you have smallish children in the house I would block that door area inside and outside off with chairs laid on their side or such also, so they cannot play near the doors. Actually, outside the whoel deck and that side of the house should be off limits, because you don't know how big an area of facade is loose, Could just be the portion that lost support due to the french doors being put in (hopefully), but could be anchors have rusted through on much of the facade - be sure to have mason check this out AND show you the damaged anchors, so you don't get scammed into replacing the entire facade when it may just be a local failure over the door because inadequate support was put under it.


The right way to support the facade over the door would have been to install a heavy plate or angle steel frame in the rough opening - to support the facade over the door, then to carry the load down to the floor level on the sides. Usually about a 1/4 - 1/2" plate steel frame is used to do this, with welded angle iron across the top to support the facade.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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