The Importance of Galvanizing Lintels
The featured photograph shows a lintel that was removed from over a door opening. The brick wall is about 45 years old and faces west. The age of the brick veneer and the lintel are not known with certainty, but are thought to be 45 years old. Granted, THAT is a long time, but for many of those years the lintel was paper thin at the ends (Figure 1).
The effects of corrosion on the steel lintel, that is, the paper thin condition at the ends of the steel angle from corrosion, the severe corrosion on the remainder of the lintel, and the absence of any remaining paint coating, could have been reduced by hot-dip galvanizing of the angle before its installation.
Hot-dip galvanizing of lintel angles was not a common practice when this wall was constructed, but became more common shortly after it was built.
The proper detailing and installation of flashings, wall membranes, drainage cavities, and weep holes will protect the steel lintel from the effects of water that leaks into the wall, but eventual these components will fail and the hot-dip galvanizing will provide a last line of protection for the steel until someone becomes aware that the wall is leaking and is need of repair.