Building Anatomy: brick cavity wall

Here are some important parts of a brick cavity wall. 

Click to listen and try to guess where each part is located in the assembly!

Brick

Compressible filler

Concrete

Continuous reglet and through-wall flashing

Continuous steel relief angle

Intermittent weep holes

Sealant and backer rod

Wedge anchor insert

Keyword definitions

Cavity

is a void or empty space in something solid.  The most common use is in dentistry.  A tooth 'cavity' is a space in the tooth caused by decay.

A cavity generally means any space inside a solid object.  A sinkhole is a cavity in the road.

Cavity walls have a  cavity (void, or space) between the exterior finish and the backup wall.  This also called an 'air space'

This system is often called a rainscreen system.  This means that the exterior brick wythe (layer) isn't waterproof.   It helps protect the building from rain and snow, but any moisture or condensation that enters the cavity is stopped by the waterproof membrane.  It then drains down and exits the building through the weep holes along the face of the building.


Weep

is a synonym for 'cry'

'Weep' also means to drip water.

Weep holes allow water to escape the wall cavity.


Continuous

Means that it is a long piece that continues horizontally. In construction drawings, it is noted using the abbreviation "cont".


Intermittent

Means that it occurs in specific locations in short segments.


Wedge insert

A wedge insert is a piece of metal that is placed in the concrete when it's cast.  This insert receives a variety of  anchors and pieces.

In this photo, you can see the wedge-shaped anchors fit in an insert in the concrete slab edge.

 

1 relief angle labels

Test your knowledge

Match the names of the components with the letters in the drawing.

  • Brick
  • Compressible filler
  • Concrete
  • Continuous reglet and through-wall flashing
  • Continuous steel shelf angle (relief angle)
  • Intermittent weep holes
  • Sealant and backer rod
  • Wedge anchor insert

CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWERS

A. Continuous reglet and through-wall flashing
B. Wedge anchor insert
C. Intermittent weep holes
D. Sealant and backer rod
E. Continuous steel shelf angle (relief angle)
F. Compressible filler
G. Brick
H. Concrete

Bonus question

There is (at least) one important thing missing in this drawing.  Can you find it? What is missing and where should it be located?

CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWERS

Missing in the drawing was a waterproof membrane (in red) and rigid insulation (in yellow).  The specifications for these materials might vary depending on the climate and location.

 

If you haven't already, look at these lessons too, because they cover this topic in a different way:

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