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Stucco Help


Terence McCann
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Up in this neck of the woods stucco is almost non-existent so I have very little field experance with it.

I did a home this morning that, I believe, has a stucco exterior. I looked for weep screed but didn't find any.

I have attached a few pictures of the exterior to get a few opinions.

TIA.

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Terry, that's EIFS.

Depending on how it's installed it could be OK or the worst nightmare you've ever imagined. The rain screen installations, properly detailed, are performing reasonably well.

99% of residential applications are not the rain screen type and are doomed to failure from improper detailing at windows, doors, vent penetrations etc.

Check around the penetrations w/ a moisture radio wave style moisture meter. If there is any indication of moisture at all...maybe even if there isn't... suggest some destructive testing to determine the extent of damage to the sheathing, framing and insulation.

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Thanks Chad, appreciate it. There is very little EIFS up here as well (first home I've seen it on).

It was a bank owned repo built in 2003. The craftsmanship on the rest of the house was sub-standard. Someone decided to take the dishwasher, garbage disposal and all the kitchen cabinet pulls. The air conditioning wouldn't start but the final nail, for the potential buyer, came after we looked in the attic and it was black.

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Hi Terry,

I do EIFS and stucco houses on a fairly regular basis. With stucco, I just do the inspection like any other, but with EIFS I inform the client that I'll do a cursory scan but will not do a complete EIFS inspection as part of the home inspection. If they want to pay more for a full EIFS inspection, I'll do them but those are pretty few and far between. It can take several hours to do a full EIFS inspection correctly, so it's a whole different ball of wax.

If that middle photo is of a little bit of damage to the lamina and the white stuff is foam and you saw strands of fiberglass mesh around that break then it is indeed EIFS. The other giveaway is the lack of accessory and termination beads. If it had real stucco you'd expect to find accessory joints, expansion beads, and termination beads - not necessarily in very old stucco homes, but most do have them.

If the house was built between 1985 and 1995/6 it's probably a barrier EIFS systems, which means there's no drainage plane behind it and any improper detailing around openings will eventually result in water trapped behind the lamina and all of the attendant problems that will bring. If it's from 1995/6 onward there's a 50/50 chance that it's a water-managed EIFS, but the lack of any type of obvious weep screed at the bottom edge of that wall is a good reason to doubt that it is.

Did you examine the terminations around windows and doors to see if they were soft compared to the rest of the lamina? If they're done correctly, the installer will have used backer rod behind flexible caulk and will either tool the surface of the butyl and leave it exposed or extend the finish coat over the butyl and backer rod to conceal it. It looks to me like it's concealed.

Everything that Chad said is true. You're safest course of action, if it is EIFS, is to scan as much of it as you are able and to in a few minutes, write any moisture you find, and defer further inspection to a trained EIFS inspector. The realtors and most of the clients bellyache about cost, but they're usually happy, after they've had the EIFS inspection, to realize that the job could have come back to haunt them.

True story: A friend built a house with an EIFS system facing the street and parking area. About 3-4 years after he moved in I drove over there and noticed something fishy about the lamina. "You better get that cladding checked out; it's got water behind it," I told him. "What, are you nuts, the house is great and there's no water or dampness or odor or anything on those walls of the house," he said. "I don't care," I insisted, "There's water in there," whereupon I took my Protimeter and scanned the wall and it started beeping up a storm.

He continued to protest - "But we insisted that they install a water-managed system on the house, just like you told us to when we were having it built." "Well, you should have had me come by and look at it then, because this obviously isn't a water-managed system. Look here, there's no weep screed at the bottom of this wall and none of the mesh is back-wrapped." I took a pencil out of my truck and, using my Protimeter, I outlined all of the damp areas that I could reach from the ground. "You've got a ton of water behind this lamina. If you don't get after it, you're going to lose this house." He was skeptical but said he'd get the contractor back. He called me that evening and arranged for me to be there at the same time as the contractor.

The following week I met them both there. The contractor, a Ukrainian (or maybe a Russian - I can't tell by the accent), was mad as hell at me and told me that I was nuts. I showed him the moisture using the Protimeter and he still insisted I was nuts. I told him to cut a hole in the wall at the center of one of my marked-up areas and if there wasn't moisture there I'd pay for it. He was pretty cocky. He grabbed his saw, cut a 10 x 10 hole where I'd indicated and popped out the square. As soon as he popped that square out of the wall, the smell of funky rotten wood just rolled over us. The sheathing was rotting and so weren't the studs. I left.

The next week he showed up to strip the front of that house and I came back a couple of hours into the job to see how it was going. You would not have believed the amount of damage. The framing was literally black with rot - even the pressure-treated sills and rims and the 6 by 6 pressure-treated posts buried in the EIFS-clad columns at the front porch. There was a nice thick black layer of mold on the backside of the drywall. To this day, I don't understand why that hadn't shown up inside the home. Maybe it was because he'd used a CPVC based moisture-barrier primer on all of the walls.

To the contractor's credit, he ate the whole job and put his crew on that mess for a full six weeks to repair it all. With time and materials, I'd guess it probably cost him $60,000 to repair and would have cost my friend nearly $100,000 if the contractor hadn't stepped up, because his insurance company refused to pay for anything but replacement of interior drywall that had to be destroyed in the process of tearing out and replacing all of those studs.

Now that I've scared the bejezuz out of you, make sure you're careful to cover your rump on this one.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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A few questions Mike:

On your friends house, how could you tell by looking at it that there were moisture problems?

With the moisture detector, scan the exterior or interior wall at the places that are prone to problems?

In my 4th picture should there have been weep screed at the bottom?

I need to get some training on EFIS and stucco applications, not my strong suit for sure.

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Originally posted by Terence McCann

A few questions Mike:

On your friends house, how could you tell by looking at it that there were moisture problems?

That's a good question; one that's hard to answer. There were very subtle differences in overall texture of the wall that I could see when the light struck it from an oblique angle. Moisture had gotten in all around the foam and affected the way the wall looked - at least to me. It's hard to define. If you look at something over and over and it's fine and then you look at the same thing with a slight imperfection, those imperfections kind of jump out at you. EIFS is waterproof on the outside, but the basecoat is portland cement based. Get it wet and it changes the look of the wall.
With the moisture detector, scan the exterior or interior wall at the places that are prone to problems?
Yeah, lower corners of window opening, bottom of the walls - especially on the weather sides of the house.
In my 4th picture should there have been weep screed at the bottom?
Yes, but sometimes it's hard to see. There are various type of weeps and some don't have any holes on the bottom but have holes on the foundation side and nothing more than a very narrow slot between the back/bottom edge of the lamina and the foundation. Plus, if it's a drianage plane system with this type of bead, and it's been properly detailed, things could be perfectly fine and there's nothing overtly obvious, other than the fact that that it's EIFS, to tell you how it's been done. Check around locally and see if you can find a copy of the EIFS Primer by Robert G. Thomas Jr.. They guy worked for Dryvit for more than 25 years and has had an EIFS consulting business for about the past 10 to 15. He's forgotten more about this stuff than most of us will ever know.
I need to get some training on EFIS and stucco applications, not my strong suit for sure.
Well, even after you get the training, it won't be your strong suit unless you see the stuff all the time. I'm still uncomfortable with the stuff.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Guys,

I've been away for a while, crazy busy at work and studying for an upcoming licensing/certification test with NYSDEC.

You should be able to see a drainage starter track that will allow the system to drain. Even if its a "drainable" system, if there is no place for the water to exit, it will not work.

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The j track starter is for a drainage system using corregated styrofoam. There is also an "L" type starter track that is used with a weepable membrane that is installed prior to the foam board.

There is alot more to inspecting EIFS than can be posted. If you are interested, check out Exterior Design Institute. http://www.exterior-design-inst.com/training.html

Regardless of if it is a drainable or barrier system, if it is not installed properly... and most residential systems are not, it will not function properly and as Chad stated, can be your worst nightmare.

I have more things regarding EIFS that I would love to post, including a few movies regarding the installation, I just cannot figure out how to do it.

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I put together a short list. If you pay attention to the items on it, you will probably do a better inspection than most.

Even without a meter, if you follow the short list, you will be doing a worthy, no extra charge inspection without doing anything more than eye balling your surroundings as you do the rest of your inspection.

If the short inspection merits a more indepth inspection, then the meters come out.

If you are going to scan it, you will need something like a Tramex. If you find moisture @ the windows, pin probe it and "plot" the wet/damaged area. You can possibly trace the origin of the problem this way.

There are also minimally intrusive tools that can help you determine the extent of substrate damage.

By the time I consider extreme intrusive measures. It is usually to expose the damage that I have already found.

When inspecting EIFS, just like any other exterior cladding; flashing, penetrations, etc., are a prime concern.

EIFS Short List.

No Horizontal Surfaces

Minimum 6/12 pitch

1/2" - 3/4" Expansion Joint around all windows & doors, etc. Adhering to clean basecoat.

Condition of joints/caulking

All penetrations sealed

Wood structures - Expansion joint @ each floor

8" clearance to soil/grade- no buried EIFS

Proper flashing

2" clearance to roof/valleys/stairs/structures, etc.

Minimum 4" cap @ parapet tops

“Dimplesâ€

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There is not a lot of EIFS in my area; I’ve only ever inspected 1 EIFS house, and am fortunate enough to have read enough on it to know I could not inspect it properly and so excluded it from the inspection.

I’m curious how many inspectors:

1. Do nothing different with an EIFS house and just look at it like any other sort of covering.

2. Disclaim EIFS and only do a cursory scan.

3. Have EIFS training / certification and do a full inspection as part of or in addition to the home inspection.

4. If you have special training how/where did you get it? The course Steven T linked to looks good, but does cost $795.

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  • 1 month later...
Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Terry, that's EIFS.

Depending on how it's installed it could be OK or the worst nightmare you've ever imagined. The rain screen installations, properly detailed, are performing reasonably well.

99% of residential applications are not the rain screen type and are doomed to failure from improper detailing at windows, doors, vent penetrations etc.

Check around the penetrations w/ a moisture radio wave style moisture meter. If there is any indication of moisture at all...maybe even if there isn't... suggest some destructive testing to determine the extent of damage to the sheathing, framing and insulation.

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EDI has knowledge of a tool that will allow testing of the substrate with ninimal destruction to the EIFS. It is a plunger type instrument spring loaded to test resistance of the substrate. JMHO

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Originally posted by JayDEDI has knowledge of a tool that will allow testing of the substrate with ninimal destruction to the EIFS. It is a plunger type instrument spring loaded to test resistance of the substrate. JMHO

The tool you are talking about is called a Substrate Resistance Tester, the purpose of this tool is to test and plot the damaged substrate. It's the step after plotting wet areas with a Tramex and before you start removing the EIFS to make repairs.

The tool works like a hand held fish scale, but in reverse. Instead of measuring the pounds of resistance pulling, it measures the pounds of resistance pushing. Different tytpes of substrates will have different resistances.

By the way, the best tool for inspecting EIFS is one's eyes.

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Originally posted by AHIS

There is not a lot of EIFS in my area; I’ve only ever inspected 1 EIFS house, and am fortunate enough to have read enough on it to know I could not inspect it properly and so excluded it from the inspection.

I’m curious how many inspectors:

1. Do nothing different with an EIFS house and just look at it like any other sort of covering.

2. Disclaim EIFS and only do a cursory scan.

3. Have EIFS training / certification and do a full inspection as part of or in addition to the home inspection.

4. If you have special training how/where did you get it? The course Steven T linked to looks good, but does cost $795.

I've only had one EIFS building so far, a commercial building. I explained to the owner that I did not do EIFS, but could arrange for another inspector who is EIFS certified to do just that part of the inspection, and I would do everything else. They agreed, and I arranged it. It cost the building owner double what my fee was, but they didn't bat an eye about it.
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  • 1 month later...
Originally posted by StevenT

The pdf is too large, so I tried to post a link. I copied and pasted the url, but it keeps showing up differently than how I paste it.

Hi Steven,

Upload it to the file library and post the link to that. You can't upload any pdf or doc that's bigger than 1.5 MB in a post or reply.

Michael Brown

DevWave Software Inc.

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Hi Jay,

I attended EDI last year.

I'm not sure how my name is familiar to you. As an "old dog" I have been involved in many different things, both in and out of construction. Depending upon what you have been into in your life, it is very possible that our paths have crossed.

In the late 60's I lived in Miami for 2 years and in the 70's I ran a stripping crew, building reinforced concrete buildings. I couple of the jobs that come to mind are Arlin House and Arlin House East.

If that don't work, perhaps you saw my picture hanging in the post office.

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