What are weep holes?
Weep holes are the gaps that you see between some bricks in the exterior brick walls of your home. They are small openings that allow water to drain from inside the structure.
Weep holes exist in brick veneer walls because bricks are not waterproof. They are porous due to tiny spaces or holes through which liquid and air can pass. So, when it rains bricks absorb and store water. This can lead to problems with dampness and mould.
Should your home have weep holes?
According to the Australian Standards 3700-2011 Section 4.7.2 Weep Holes
Weep Holes shall be provided wherever it is necessary to drain moisture from or through masonry construction. Where flashings are incorporated in the masonry, weep holes shall be provided in the masonry course immediately above the flashing, at centres not exceeding 1200 mm.
Weep Holes are required for any window wider than 1m where there is no overhang or the roof overhang is not three times the distance between the top of the window and the bottom of the roof.”
Weep holes have 2 main purposes:
- Ventilation – They provide ventilation to the wall cavities to reduce mildew, dry rot and dampness to the internal walls and other building materials.
- Drainage – They provide openings where water can escape and drain through the bottom of the wall.
How to maintain weep holes
Even though weep holes are necessary, they are not without issues.
Here’s what you need to look out for in weep holes.
- Pest and Termite entry – when left unprotected weep holes can be entry points for pests and insects. Some weep holes become nesting grounds for bees and wasps. Homeowners should be careful not to block weep holes with mulch, foliage or by putting stored goods up against brick walls with weep holes.
- Bush Fires – In bush fires, embers can find their way through weep holes and into the wall cavities, causing fires from within the house.
- External Fixtures – Always keep external fixtures like air conditioning units away from where it can obstruct your view of weep holes.
- Decking and external render – if you are planning to build a deck or add external rendering to the outer walls of your house, make sure the weep holes will still be visible and accessible.
Most potential property buyers are not aware of the role weep holes play in keeping a home in good condition. Some homeowners even block weep holes and don’t understand the problems this can cause.