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   Water can find its way inside through any cracks that have developed, or through any areas where the EIFS abuts a different material, such as door and window frames, or at the roof.  If the EIFS continues below ground level, any cracks or openings in the finish will allow moisture, as well as wood-destroying organisms, such as termites, inside.  When prolonged moisture intrusion of the wood behind the EIFS reaches 30%, rot and mold growth will begin.

Has water damage occurred or is it likely to occur?

   Your home inspector’s preliminary visual review of the exterior wall surfaces may determine if water damage is actively occurring, as well as whether it is likely to occur due to improperly installed synthetic stucco. There have been many reported cases of EIFS manufacturer installation instructions not being followed correctly by builders, leading to problems. There are several different approved installation methods for EIFS, and we are familiar with them, along with using an infrared camera as part of the evaluation.

A visual inspection includes:

• Ground Contact:  EIFS should not continue down a wall into the ground.  It should terminate no less than 6 inches from finished ground level.

• Roof Flashing:  Kickout flashing should be installed where the EIFS meets the roofline. If this is missing, there is a good possibility that water is entering the wall cavity. We also check for any areas that feel soft or are discolored.

• Joints Around Windows and Doors:  We check caulking joints around windows and doors to make sure that there are no cracks, even small ones. If wood on window or door frames feels soft, or it is discolored, water may have entered the wall assembly around the frame; and

• Areas of Cracking or Bulging:  If there are cracks in the EIFS itself, moisture will be able to infiltrate the wall assembly and cause rotting.  Bulges can indicate that coatings are delaminating or detaching from the polystyrene board..

   If evidence of damage or moisture intrusion is found, options for repair should be explored. These may include anything from additional caulking and sealing to removal and replacement of synthetic stucco sections. So it’s best to catch any possibility of water damage to EIFS at the earliest stage possible, before any lingering moisture has had time to cause rotting.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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