Does your structure have a problem?

If you own a house or a building, you should take steps to determine if you have a problem. The first thing you should do is visually inspect the exterior of the house, townhouse, condominium, mixed use building, hotel, etc. at lease annually. The inspection should generally include the following:

1. Carefully observe the exterior (& interior).

A bulge may indicate that the coatings have become delaminated or, in EIFS & Continuous Insulation (CI) stucco, detached from the EPS (expanded polystyrene) board. Cracking may have been caused by a number of factors, including building movement, green wood lumber and/or numerous other factors. Even a small crack can permit surprising amounts of water into your wall. The important items to examine are caulking, flashing and physical damage (holes, cracks, etc.).

Are there:
Pieces of the cladding that have spalled/fallen off the wall?
Areas of whitish powdery appearing material on your walls?
Rust/orange colored bleeding on your walls?
Areas of soft wood?
Discoloration or staining, especially under window boxes, near gutter laps and downspout sections?
Unusual amounts of insect or rodent droppings and carcasses in a particular area or small piles of what looks like sawdust?
Metal flashings where your deck meets your house walls?
Umbrella arch shaped areas along the base of walls lighter or darker in color than the surrounding wall areas?
Mud stains along the bottom of walls?
Loose fitting exterior fixtures?
Excessive caulk buildup anywhere or two different colored sealants one over the other?
Loose stones in your manufactured stone veneer (MSV) walls?
No sealant joints where your MSV meets other materials?
No weep screeds at the base of stucco or stone walls?
Vines entering the base of walls?
Foggy double or triple paned windows?
Damp carpets?
Peeling, bulging or stained paint?
Mold or mildew/moss growth?

2. Observe the areas of the house where the cladding meets the roof line.

At areas where roof angles meet vertical walls, there should be "kick out flashings". Kick out flashings are special flashings that are critical to divert water that runs down the roof away from the wall. In general, the flashing looks like a bent piece of metal that protrudes out of the wall at areas where the roof terminates inboard of the outer edge of a vertical wall. Often these critical flashings are missing. If so, there is a very good likelihood that water is flowing into the wall cavity at that juncture.

Is the cladding adequately held off above the roof tiles/shingles? Is the chimney properly flashed?

3. Carefully observe the sealant/ caulking joints around windows, vents, doors, cable penetrations, etc. for any cracks and gaps, no matter how small. Look for missing sealant.

(If you don't have sealant/caulk joints around your windows or doors, this is in violation of the EIFS manufacturer's specifications).

Water can infiltrate through the tiniest of cracks in sealant.
Probe wood surrounding sealant with a blunt object to see if it feels soft/decayed.
Look for staining or streaking underneath the windows.
Check to see if the wall appears even slightly discolored underneath the windows.

4. Does the cladding terminate into the ground at any area around the structure?

If so, there is a very good likelihood that water is "wicking up into the structure". This also creates a virtual highway for termites to travel undetected up into the wall assembly.

5. Document, document, document!

If you observe any of the foregoing, there is a good chance that water has infiltrated into the wall assembly.

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