Home>Discussions>EXTERIORS>missing mortar immediately above lintel on top side of window
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missing mortar immediately above lintel on top side of window

mortar missing from above lintel over one of my basement's glass block windows - between the lintel and the brick directly above the gap.

From some research on the internet, I think this space could/will allow water to get in, maybe into the wall and eventually into the basement.

Also, from some research, I think I should only fill the space directly above this lintel with a permeable material, so that any water seeping down through the bricks will be able to get out, instead of being trapped between the non-permeable filler (caulk or whatever) and the vertical (back) part of the lintel behind the brick.

If true, what is the correct material with which to fill this gap? Maybe a 3:1 mortar mix? Certainly not a caulk of any kind? What about the mortar repair stuff that comes in a caulking tube - is it permeable?

Thanks in advance.

PS - yeah, the lintel is rusting; so, I'll remove the rust and then paint it.

Re: missing mortar immediately above lintel on top side of window

In general the brick sets on the angle lintel without mortar although some mortar may be used to level the course above the lintel. I rarely if ever see flashing and weep holes at the lintel on home construction. Often I see mortar filling the gap between the lintel and brick, but it usually pops out after a while.
Painting the lintel is okay. Caulking will only trap moisture. Filling with mortar might trap moisture too and will likely fall out after a while. I wouldn't try to create/drill weep holes without the proper flashing in place.

Re: missing mortar immediately above lintel on top side of window

Thru wall flashing and weeps are required for brick veneer.

Re: missing mortar immediately above lintel on top side of window

It seems like the lintel has sagged, a somewhat common problem that could have been prevented by a stronger lintel. Too late to wish for that now though. If there's mortar between brick and lintel (and there shouldn't be) then clearing and re-pointing it is the best approach but won't be a permanent solution. Start by getting the rust handled and primed/painted first, then re-point the mortar touching up the paint if needed afterward. Keep an eye on it and as long as the brick remains stable this shouldn't be a problem other needing re-pointing from time to time. If the brick joints start cracking (especially in a 'staircase' manner) then you've got bigger problems and you might then need to replace with a stronger lintel.

In the old days, lintels were generally 1/4" cold-rolled steel "L" or "T" beams. Those currently in use are made from thinner formed steel sheet and are not as strong although they are supposed to be adequate for the job. The primer coating was also thinker on the old ones. I have seen the newer ones sag, but rarely the older ones. Since they still make the old style, that is what I prefer to see used even if it is 'overkill' by the numbers. All I know is that it works whereas the stamped ones may not. Neither will fail spectacularly but as you see that doesn't have to happen to end up with problems.


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