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Stucco products, whether traditional hard coat stucco or EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finish System), have both had their fair share of problems related to water intrusion damage. These products have had so many issues, not because they are bad cladding systems, but because they are not installed correctly. Both of these products require careful detailing and must be installed EXACTLY how the manufacturer instructions call for it to be installed. If not installed correctly, then rest assured that your home is susceptible to significant problems in the future that may require extensive and expensive repairs.
Common installation deficiencies:
-On hard coat stucco, it is rare in older installations that a weep screed is installed at the bottom termination at grade level. More often than not, I find that the applicator installed a metal casing (end dam) to stop the stucco. There are not designed to be used at the bottom termination as a weep screed because they do not have holes that allow for drainage. A proper weep screed or weep casing has holes every few inches that are designed to let water drain out of the cladding system if any were to get in.
-On both hard coat stucco and EIFS, the perimeter of windows are rarely detailed correctly. Hard coat stucco requires a casing bead with a closed cell backer rod and properly tooled sealant in between the stucco and the window frame. This allows for expansion and prevents cracking. Cracking allows water intrusion damage and can cause major issues. On EIFS products, an expansion joint is also required between the window frame and the EIFS cladding for the same reasons. All too often, applicators of both products simply install the cladding directly up against the window frame, which will inevitably lead to cracks and water intrusion. The same type of detailing is required when any stucco type products butts up against a dissimilar wall cladding material as well.
-Oftentimes, kick out flashing is missing at both Stucco and EIFS where a roof line butts up against a wall. If no kick out flashing is in place, then all the water that runs off the roof in this area can run directly behind the stucco or EIFS wall cladding and cause major issues with wood rot, mold, and moisture. A properly installed kick out flashing will divert the water that runs off the roof away from the wall, thus preventing any water intrusion damage beneath the cladding system.
I could go on and on with this list, but those are typically the 3 most common issues that I find. One of the common mistakes people make when buying a home that has stucco or EIFS is that they think to themselves “I’m hiring a home inspector and he will be able to tell me if any problems exist with the stucco”. While this is true to an extent, you must remember that a home inspection is a visual only inspection that is non-invasive. Meaning if there aren’t any obviously glaring issues that stick out for the home inspector to see, then he or she will not be able to discover whether or not moisture damage exists behind the stucco product. The ONLY way to determine whether or not the stucco product is performing properly is to have it inspected by a qualified stucco specialist. Lucky for you, if you hire us, we are qualified to do both. A speciality stucco inspection does require permission from the homeowner since we will be performing an invasive inspection. We will drill small holes (roughly 1/8’ in diameter) in all the key problem areas on the stucco system. We will then insert a moisture probe into the drill holes to determine the moisture content of the substrate (which is typically wood) beneath the cladding. We can then determine what kind of remediation efforts are needed from the moisture readings we get, as well as how firm or soft the substrate feels when we poke it with the moisture probe.
This type of inspection is well worth the investment. The cost of removing stucco, replacing damaged substrate, and replacing the stucco can cost up to $20,000 in some instances on just ONE EXTERIOR WALL. It is not worth it to take the risk. Get your stucco inspected!
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