Tom Silva
Q: My house has small vertical gaps between the bricks near the bottom of the outside walls. My builder calls them weep holes, and says they're necessary for removing condensation. I've never seen water coming out of the holes, so I filled them with silicone to keep out water and termites. Was that okay?

—Sharon Hinkle, Biloxi, MISS.

A: Tom Silva replies: Your builder was right-weep holes are necessary. In fact, they're required by code in wood-framed houses with brick veneer because they ventilate the narrow cavity between the brick and the interior wall. Without weep holes, the moisture that wicks through the brick and mortar will soak into the framing and drywall, making them magnets for termites and mold. But any water that comes in through the weeps will hit metal flashing, if the inside walls were built properly.

So, for the good of your house, remove the silicone. Then you can fit the holes with small plastic insect guards, like the ones sold by Critter Ridder, which allow air in but discourage bugs and other creatures from entering. Check with your local building inspector before you install these, though, just to make sure they're approved for use in your area.
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