A Look at the Lintel

Published On: June 21, 2022

What is a lintel? A lintel is most commonly recognized as a beam that spans across the top of the opening of a garage door, pedestrian door, or window. If a home has a window or door, it has a lintel. Like any part of the home, lintels require maintenance. If the brick wall above a garage door has cracks, or you notice a sagging lintel above a garage opening, it’s time for repair. This article will take a look at the lintel, causes of lintel failure, and when to consider brick and lintel repair.

Lintels play a support role for the home. Unlike beams that help transfer heavier structural loads throughout the house from the ground up, the primary function of the lintel is slightly different. A lintel supports the brick or stone veneer above it by transferring the weight of the load to the side walls. So, cracked bricks above a garage lintel do not usually reveal the presence of a serious structural or foundation issue.

Causes of Lintel Failure

Cracks above a garage opening or cracks above windows point to a lintel in need of repair. Most of the time, lintels are made of steel, which can rust if not protected from moisture, but you will also see lintels made of concrete, wood, and other materials. All lintels require maintenance but eventually need repair when they have inadequate:

  • Design
  • Design loads
  • Materials
  • Installation
  • Moisture control around opening
  • Provisions to avoid movement

Addressing the root cause of lintel failure should be the first step in correcting cracked brick above the lintel.

Once the lintel has been inspected, a brick and lintel repair company like USS can repair the lintel by installing components such as lag bolts and replacement brick if needed. At times, a full lintel replacement is needed, like on a rusted lintel, which is when you or your clients will want to reach out to a general contractor. But a lintel repair is generally an easy repair with fast, same day results.

Lintel Repair

Lintel Repair vs. Replacement

If you find one of your listings with cracked brick above the garage, and a foundation repair company immediately suggests foundation settlement at the garage site, seek out a second supporting opinion. If only the lintel needs repair, and piers are placed at the site, you can damage the foundation. Look for a horizontal crack in brick at the edge of the lintel, or adjacent to the lintel. Horizontal cracks near the lintel are a telltale sign of a damaged lintel in need of replacement by a general contractor and not foundation settlement.

Conversely, if you notice a sagging lintel above the window of the home, you will want to investigate the window structure further. Does the wood above the window drop without any cracks in brick around the window? If so, it may be time for a lintel replacement, window replacement, or a structural wood repair by a general contractor. Does your client have cracked brick above the windows or stair step cracks in brick nearby? Your client may have foundation settlement that a foundation repair company should inspect before repairing the lintels alone.

Lintel Repair

  • Cracked bricks above garage
  • Stairstep cracks above lintel
  • Sagging lintel at top of garage opening
  • Loose, noticeable movement of lintel

Lintel Replacement

  • Horizontal cracks adjacent to lintel
  • Rusted lintel
  • Sagging window lintel

Foundation Repair

The good news is brick and lintel repair in Middle TN, Southern KY, and Northern AL, is a common, fairly simple repair that can be completed in a day by a local brick and lintel repair company like USS, who also specializes in foundation repair. If you are concerned with a sagging lintel or bricks cracking, call USS for a free thorough inspection. With close to 30 years of experience our experts are here to help!

Let’s get started!

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