what are weep holes?

What Are Weep Holes in Brick For and Why Does My Home Need Them?

You’ve got these places in your brick wall that don’t appear to have mortar in them. You’ve heard that these are called weep holes but that’s all you know. What are these *weep hole thingys* and do they have anything to do with foundation problems??

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

At Anchor Foundation Repair, during foundation inspections, we have been asked a time or two about weep holes. Homeowners wonder what weep holes are and if they have anything to do with foundation settlement in their homes. Since we understand *a bit* about home construction and building techniques, we can answer this question with no problem.

This article will describe and define weep holes and explain their main purpose. We will also discuss the question of whether a homeowner should fill them in and if they have anything to do with your foundation’s condition.

What Do Weep Holes Look Like on a Brick Home?

Just to make sure we are all talking about the same thing, weep holes are not round holes like you would think something called a *hole* would be. Weep holes in brick look more like places where the brick mortar appears to be missing in between two bricks. The vertical line of mortar will strategically not be there where two bricks meet. 

The mortar is not missing, it’s not there on purpose and leaves an opening in the wall structure. The weep hole opening does not lead directly into your house though. It’s simply an opening in the cosmetic outer brick veneer of your home and the only place it leads is behind the brick.

Weep holes are found along the bottom of brick walls and are spaced every so often along the wall in a regular-ish pattern. Here’s an example of two in a pattern: 

what are weep holes and why does my home need them?

What is the Purpose and Importance of Weep Holes in Brick?

Weep holes serve an important purpose and are put in place at the time the brick wall is installed. Weep holes allow for the release of water that might have penetrated the brick due to weather, sprinklers, or other means.

Bricks are porous and can easily collect or absorb water within their inner structure from strong rains or direct water streams on the wall. Because the bricks are so porous, they can also easily release that water. Any intruding water will work its way down through the bricks by way of gravity to the bottom of the wall. 

weep holes on your home

Water is released near the bottom of the wall before it reaches the non-porous concrete slab foundation below. Weep holes are key in allowing any unwanted water to escape and your brick wall to dry out.

Think of someone crying or *weeping* to visualize what your brick walls need to do to shed this extra moisture. Now, are you getting why they are called *weep* holes? It’s like your wall is silently crying. Don’t worry, your brick isn’t sad. It’s probably all the pollen in the air making its eyes watery . . .

Weep holes prevent the following unpleasant situations from developing around your house:

  • Water damage to other parts of the home, and
  • Mold growth and accumulation in non-visible areas.

Because brick masons know that bricks can take on water, they plan for a way to allow bricks to release the water. Weep holes are very important for preventing these other nasty moisture and mold issues from causing problems for your home.

Can Weep Holes Be Filled In on My Brick Walls?

Homeowners who don’t know or understand what weep holes are for can think that they are flaws in their brick walls. Some homeowners worry about bugs and feel the need to cover up weep holes with caulk, mortar, or some type of foamy material.

what are weep holes?
Steel wool inserted into weep hole.

You should never fill in weep holes with non-porous materials. The holes are supposed to be there and plugging them up with mortar, caulk, or foam will cause moisture to build up with nowhere for it to go. Excess moisture could then cause water damage and mold. Don’t fill in weep holes, like ever. They are needed.

If you are worried about bugs getting in behind your brick, the solution is steel wool. Exterminators can insert a small amount of steel wool in weep holes to prevent creepy crawlies from exploring the area. Steel wool will allow water to freely drain out of the weep holes as needed, but serves as a deterrent for pests.

Do Weep Holes Have Anything To Do With Foundation Problems?

In general, weep holes have nothing to do with foundation problems. Though we have inspected homes with foundation issues and noticed closed-up weep holes causing other issues. In rare cases, weep hole blockages could cause problems with your brick ties and make your brick wall loosen from the exterior. A loose brick wall is a home symptom that can sometimes be mistaken for a foundation problem.

true signs of foundation issues

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been diagnosing and repairing foundation issues in the Bryan, College Station, and other Brazos Valley communities since 1985. We know what signs are related to foundation problems and which are not.

Check out this article for an Ultimate Picture Guide to Foundation Problems that includes both real and some of the bigger misleading signs.