What is stucco?
Stucco is an attractive cladding that has been used for literally thousands of years. It is the most popular cladding in the tri-state area, particularly on higher priced homes. The issue is, unlike in the past, the stucco is currently applied over building components and materials that are no longer compatible with stucco. Starting as far back as the 80’s the decision was made to move toward more environmentally friendly products that could assist with energy efficiency. Some of these more energy efficient materials lead to the substrate breaking down once it had become saturated. The resulting failure of the stucco system starts almost immediately but takes many years and decades to develop to the point that it undermines the system.
Many of these issues go unseen because they are often concealed within the wall cavity. It’s only after professional testing is performed that these items are discovered. Depending on the extent, some issues if caught early enough may not require the removal of Stucco. On other occasions, full elevations may need to be opened and removed in order to address the shortcomings.
Issues common to stucco
Common issues that occur with a home that has had stucco applied usually develop after years of being exposed to the elements. Sometimes these issues can happen if applied incorrectly but are often related to age. These include the improper installation of windows and doors, the transition of stucco to other claddings and the improper termination of stucco to roofs, decks, patios and driveways. Omissions such as diverters at roof to wall locations and undersized flashing components contribute significantly to moisture intrusion and the accompanying wood rot. Left untreated, this can lead to structural issues.
It is notable that homes built in the last few decades often have more severe water damage as a result of poor detailing by the installers, in conjunction with omitted key flashing components. Architecture has a huge part to play and how the components come together to perform during rain events is critical. One can seldom determine if there is moisture trapped behind stucco, merely with a visual inspection alone. As a result a secondary and slightly more invasive test is often recommended.
The Inspection Process
There are primarily two phases of an Inspection, both of which can be completed with one on-site appointment.
Phase 1 is the visual inspection of the exterior. Careful consideration is given to visual cues that indicate how the system was applied and is performing. We look for visual evidence of staining, cracking and omitted flashing details as they pertain to windows, doors and roof to wall transitions. How the stucco transitions to other claddings also assist in our analysis. The omission of key flashing components and improper details indicate vulnerable areas of concern that may require further testing. This allows us to first focus on the areas where we are most likely to find elevated moisture levels that are impacting the system. Further evaluation is performed at areas of caulking, staining and perhaps previous repairs or general maintenance.
Phase 2 is a slightly more invasive part of the test. Small pilot holes are drilled through the stucco to allow calibrated meters to obtain actual moisture readings from the substrate behind the stucco and/or manufactured stone. These readings are compiled within a report that will further serve to map out the areas of moisture and how they relate to the elevations tested. The structural rigidity of the substrate is tested to determine the extent of the areas compromised by the moisture intrusion, and will be noted as soft, rotted, decayed or firm and dry. These are important factors to assist in the full assessment of what it will take to properly repair affected areas. The areas of testing are then sealed with Sealants closely representing the color of stucco. Photographs depicting areas of concern are included within the report and we are available to review them with you upon completion.
We guarantee to respond the same day you call, and deliver a report to you within 72 hours!
929 S High St.
West Chester, PA 19382