Have an older, (probably double-brick walled) home from 1930's. Lived in it 33 years. About five or six years ago, started noticing moisture on the front north wall, upstairs. Have tried roof repair, tuckpointing, including upper inner roof wall, waterproofing, and having the top decorative caps cemented. We have replastered and painted a few times but it still keeps leaking and now in the last storm, some water is coming through the window frame! Someone told me the bricks may be porous and letting in the moisture! What can I do? Just read about a Lifetime Waterproofing sealant from Coatings International, Inc. Would this work? How do you remove old waterproofing? And what about the existing moisture? Is there possibly mold in the inner wall? Also, any other suggestions would be welcome!
Your brick walls leaked from the day they were installed. All bricks leak, some more then others.
What people do not understand is that the system when its properly installed allows for this leakage by the design of proper flashings and weep screeds that are placed within the brick wall itself. What happens is people are sold fixes for walls that have nothing wrong. But think that they do, or in your case perhaps a drainage weep hole was plugged by a wasp nest or by someone who did some repairs and did not understand how a wall is to drain.
Water proofing the brick will not work. DO not do this or you will ruin the brick and cause more issues then fix.
The primary reason for the leaks is that the drainage plane somewhere above the window has been blocked up. There should be weep holes above all windows, doors and at the floor line on the first floor. Behind this is flashings that divert the water out from behind the wall as the brick leaks. If the mason filled these holes with cement while tuckpointing, or the painter has caulked these openings or sealed the top of the steel lentil where it comes into contact with the brick while painting the trims. You must clear this away for the drainage to work.
A web site www.bia.org is a good place to get an understanding on how brick installs are done and why things go wrong. It is by the brick industry you may find some other helpfull advice there.
As far as mold within the inner wall is concerned. Perhaps yes perhaps no. All depends on how long the moisture stays trapped behind the wall and the material that is getting wet. Mold besides needing air and moisture need a food source. Take any one of these three things away and the mold will stop developing and die off. Beware however even if any mold that may be there dies off, the spores left behind can be just as much of a concern as those who still live.
You may be seeing two different problems on the same wall. I have no difficulty seeing how moisture could possibly seep through two layers of brick, but water through the window frame doesn't really sound like seepage, instead more like a flashing, caulking, or glazing issue on the window or window frame itself. It sounds like the north side is the more weatherbeaten so it makes sense that time and abuse could have more than one effect. Unless you are sure that the window is well sealed or isolated by a good storm window, don't assume that the two problems are directly related. If they are, however, then it is a sure bet that the source is from overhead somewhere since wicking and capillary action notwithstanding, water almost always runs downhill.
As always, HomeCareClub is spot-on about the waterproofing. The key, and always the hardest thing to do, is to isolate the root causes and address them directly. It is usually not a one-time fix but an iterative process.
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