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An EIFS question

Robert Jones

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Folks improperly paint EIFS all the time, once it is painted you need to keep painting. I doubt that wall has a moisture problem, normally walls without rooflines intersecting or penetrations in it will not have moisture problems.

The fasteners are showing most likely from being driven too far into the foam board and then the base coat coat is thicker over the fasteners, or it could be the lack of a base coat and or the finish or lamina coat was applied too thin. Add a little sunlight, age and pressure washing and you have what we are seeing....

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I agree with Scott about the improper preparation of the fasteners. They could have been set too deep and or the basecoat was improperly applied. Maybe they tried to apply the basecoat and cover the fasteners in one coat.

I also see improperly painted EIFS quite often. When painting EIFS it should be properly prepared and elastomeric paint should be used.

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I just have a knee jerk reaction to EIFS; maybe there's not water, but it always seems a safe bet that there is.

If I saw it painted, I'd even like it less.

Same here. Plus whenever I see that kind of discoloration, in a wet area, I get even more concerned. All that being being said, I also agree with Scott. The roof overhang should do a good job of protecting this area. If I were standing in front of it, I might think differently.

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Cool. Similar to a Rilem tube concept.

I used the stuff back in the early 80's too; it worked sorta OK, but not really. Partly due to us, partly due to the material, partly due to the building design. I still think it's crap.

I appreciate the "don't condemn until it's tested" approach; it's how I operate with most stuff. I also appreciate the fact that if it's installed correctly, it's useful and can work.

It's just that I've yet to see a single job installed correctly. That's the knee jerk part of my position; it's always done wrong. So, I'll probably continue with my extremely negative approach on the material.

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I sympathize with your knee jerking and it was the same jerking that drove me to learn about EIFS.

In the early 90's, even before I considered becoming an inspector I was involved in a construction company and we began using EIFS. It was amazing! Cheap, fast, and hid a ton of sins. I thought it was the greatest invention since sliced bread.

After the problems caused by installing it directly onto wood began to develop we stopped using it and my new feeling was that I wouldn't use it to clad a dog house [even].

When I began inspecting houses I would get an occasional call to identify EIFS or inspect an EIFS house. I found myself in a peculiar position. Was I going to condemn a house or houses as I was pulled into the driveway before I even stepped out of my truck!

Was I supposed to tell my client upon arrival that the house "failed" and they should run away? [And please pay me for the inspection] Or should I keep my opinion to myself, do a dog and pony show inspection and then tell them to run away? (And please pay me for the inspection). I knew that I could not operate this way.

I also considered being sued by an irate seller for killing the sale of his home simply based upon feelings with nothing to back it up. Remember; not every EIFS system fails and with new installation techniques, and if installed properly, EIFS is a good, energy efficient watershed.

I decided that I had to be fair and that I would have to evaluate each home based on its own merit.

A couple of years ago during an EIFS litigation I was hired by a Homeowner's Association at the expense of the developer to evaluate a building. As soon as I arrived at the building I realized what the EIFS problem was. (There were also water infiltration problems that were not EIFS related, although everything was being blamed on the EIFS.)

This building had vertical planks installed over the EIFS. Each plank was attached to the building with a bracket held off the EIFS approx. 6". Each with a 3/4" rod penetrating the EIFS. In addition to other penetrations there were approx. 800 bolt penetrations, some were sealed, most were not, some were poorly sealed.

Feeling like the hero, I immediately told the developer my opinion. I was amazed when he responded that he "was not interested in my opinion" and "wanted proof". I developed an appliance and began my testing.

Anyway, as I said, my goal is to base my evaluations (and opinions) upon proof (actual testing) whenever possible.

My experience has taught me;

1. The least important part of an EIFS inspection is the visible EIF itself. It is much more important to determine the effect that the "S" (system) is having on the structure.

2. Not everything done "wrong" fails and not everything done "right" does not fail.

3. Not every Barrier system fails and not every Drainable system does not fail.

4. When a EIF System fails, it is rarely the entire system that fails, but rather some individual areas that are effected, which in many cases can be corrected.

5. In many cases when EIFS is repaired, the repair is limited to the cosmetic/surface, with little to no attention given to the cause of the failure. So many times the symptoms recur.

6. A reliable EIFS evaluation is based upon moisture content testing. Evaluations based upon thermal imaging are not reliable and have little value. When I include thermal imaging when doing an evaluation, it is normally from the inside out. When I scan from the outside, I perform the scans well after sundown.

I also realize:

1. Every cladding system has installation specifications.

2. Any cladding system that is installed "wrong" can fail.

3. Many of the same conditions that plague EIFS also plague other cladding systems.

Actually, my knees jerk more when I see a brick veneer system than when I see EIFS. How many of us look for weep holes? How many times do we see a BV wall missing weep holes? And from those that have weep holes, how many are missing through wall flashing? The list goes on?

I have a question. Since I almost never see a failure in the middle of an EIF wall, and since most failures occur at a transition; If there is a failure due to what I call a "non EIFS specific" reason. For instance lack of a kickout flashing (the same thing that would cause many systems to fail), Is it the EIF that failed?

If it seems I am defending EIFS, I am not. I just want to bring to your attention that the devil is not limited to EIFS. Each and every cladding system has its installation specifications and failures. EIFS is by far the most famous but does not stand alone. Where EIFS does stand alone is that it is the most energy efficient system. Some new building codes require a continuous layer of outsulation. Isn't that essentially what makes EIFS EIFS?

Actually, I do not like EIFS, but my reason is different. I do not care for the hollow sound. But I also do not like vinyl siding, metal roofs, etc. for the same or similar reasons. They may work very well but I just don't like them. I also don't like cars with so many plastic parts, plastic bottles, silicone implants, etc. They may look nice but just don't feel right.

It is a pity that EIFS has this stigma and I believe it is due to problems it had in the past when it first began to be used on wooden buildings. By the way, masonry building with EIFS also have problems if not installed properly.

Here's another tidbit to think about;

The outer walls and roof of Joe Lstiburek's home are continuously covered with 2 layers (staggered seams) of EPS outsulation. Hmmm?

OK, I'm done... for now.

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It's easier for me to can it here. City of Chicago banned full barrier EIFS. We can only use drainage plane types nowadays, and since few know the difference, it all got pushed into the same bin.

There were a bus load of crappy condo developments that all used the stuff, of course it was done on the cheap, they all failed, and that kinda put the kibosh on the stuff.

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