What is the purpose of openings found in exterior brick wall

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Old 09-05-13, 12:05 PM
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What is the purpose of openings found in exterior brick wall

I just bought a duplex. Its solidly constructed, but in the rear there is an opening in the brickwork under the kitchen window. Its the same on each side, and was purposely done. I don't know if this is a bricklayer question or a general contractor question or an architecture question. I can't figure out what purpose it serves, and it floors me that there is any break in the exterior at all. This small opening has wire across it, so no mice can get in, but bugs can surely come and go. On one side, I'm seeing bees come and go since about mid-summer. I want to seal it, but I don't know the best way, and I'm hesitant to do so without knowing why its there in the first place. And of course now with the bees, I don't know whether that would kill them, or if they'd just make another exit and cause a worse problem.

I'd appreciate any insight or advice on how to deal with the problem. I have attached photos; the yellow blurs in the last photo are bees.
 
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Old 09-05-13, 12:39 PM
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How many are there?

Looks like a vent for possibly the space between the brick work and the sheathing behind it... Like a breather to reduce moisture build up...

I see a dryer vent... Nothing in the basement that you can see this vent??? Like a sewer line going to it? Could be a main house trap vent...
 
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Old 09-05-13, 01:35 PM
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Hi lawrosa, and thanks for the feedback. There are 2 - one each below the kitchen window on either side of the duplex. From the basement I can see the sewer line but not the vent; however, i thought I saw a plumbing vent pipe exiting at the roof - I will take a look later today and clarify.

If it were a plumbing vent... SURELY there's a better way to do it than just a hole in the wall!? I have to do something. Its like an invitation for stink bugs and the like. Albeit a lesser concern, after storms I will see the occasional small wet spot on the insulation at the basement ceiling beneath the area.

I will post this eve on whether there is a roof plumbing vent.
 
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Old 09-05-13, 01:43 PM
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Homes with house traps were piped in a way that the trap vent exited the side of the homes like this...




But since you have two, I doubt thats what it is....
 
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Old 09-05-13, 03:07 PM
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That is a slick diagram. I haven't seen anything like this type of trap. There are traps at each fixture. Everything dumps eventually into the main sewer line, which disappears into the cement floor of the integral basement garage, with only a cleanout - no main trap unless its underground. It flows from there underground to the septic system. Would this type of vent exist ONLY in the case of a whole-house trap?

Something else - there is definitely no pipe directly behind the opening in the brick. Peering into the hole (which is difficult and brief due to the bees), I see what looks like a typical stud space - just open wall with what appears to be drywall about 3-4" from the rear of the brick.
 
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Old 09-05-13, 04:46 PM
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Peering into the hole (which is difficult and brief due to the bees),...
Seems as if you have found the answer, it is for the bees to gain access to the inner sanctum.

Honestly, I don't have a clue.
 
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Old 09-05-13, 05:08 PM
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If you are seeing the back face of interior drywall, and not exterior wall sheathing/covering, I think you might have some serious problems.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 04:54 AM
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I have no idea what it's for but securing a vent cover [like a dryer vent] with screws and silicone should eliminate the water intrusion issue.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 06:08 AM
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Looks like the electrician never came back to put his metal box and exterior outlet in.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 06:19 AM
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My connection was too slow to post last night, but I'm with Xsleeper on this one. It looks like it is a bit short, height wise, and maybe that is the reason someone skipped past it, but I'd bet that it was supposed to be for a receptacle.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 08:11 AM
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If you have bees as in honey bees and not wasps or hornets you should talk to a beekeeper. There is made a bee excluder that will let the bees exit but not reyturn. Twice in my life I have heard of bees setting up housekeeping in a house and then in the summer honey starts running down the walls. Once ythe bees are gone you can decide if you want or need to mess with the honeycomb.
I concur on the omitted electrical outlet..
that looks like the right size.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 11:36 AM
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Thanks everyone for the comments. I posted earlier, but was distracted and it timed out on me. Grrrr.

Anyway, to BridgeMan45 - The duplex was build in the late 60s and has survived for a quite a while. I'm a neophyte handyman and landlord, so its more likely that what I see there is not what I think it is. Its all a learning experience.

To lawrosa - I checked the roof yesterday and I have two pipes coming out of the roof, one on either side. Since I have radiant heat, I'm assuming these are the plumbing vents. Which means, I guess, that your first inclination was right that these are to ventilate the masonry.

As to electricity, there are outdoor receptacles/conduit installed on the face of the brick just below the electric service entrance. Since that's a more logical place for a receptacle than below the kitchen window, I'd tend to think these holes were not for that purpose. Although, they are about 2" x 3", so yes, just the right size.

Sounds like the safest bet is to continue to allow the ventilation, but somehow close it off to bees. Tightcoat, thanks for the beekeeper idea. I can probably contact the local university or a beekeeper's assoc online to see how to best go about this. If there is a honeycomb in the wall, it will be a major expense to try to remove it, as there are kitchen cabinets covering the interior wall. Something else to stress about!

Thanks everyone for the quick help and great ideas. Its great to be able to access all this experience and advice just by logging in. I will post what I learn from the beekeeper lead as soon as I have something.
 
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