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  1. #1
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    Default EIFS, gaps normal?

    Haven't seen much EIFS lately, so am a bit rusty. Did a preview walk-around today at a 2006 home. Of course I will end up referring the client to an EIFS contractor that I know (there are no certfied EIFS inspectors within 400 miles).

    1. How normal is it for the EIFS walls to shrink leaving small gaps where it adjoins a different matrial? Pretty all the walls have a small gap. (see pic) How much of a problem is this?

    2. I have looked at the reference material that I have, and it is a little weak on recommended flashing details above a window. Obviously there is a problem above this window (see pic). Notice the staining that starts above the window, and two stains running down from below it. Kick-out flashing is installed at the edge of the roof, but the gutter is full of leaves and debris. No drip edge flashing that I can see at the top of the window.

    I stuck the surface pins on my SurveyMaster moisture into the wall, got a slightly elevated reading (158 vs 105 on an unstained part of the wall). Indirect detection didn's show anything, but EIFS is too thick for that anyway.

    In any case, does anyone have any good material on head flashing details over a window?

    Have included a third picture of a hole in the wall (probably a woodpecker) to show that it is EIFS. Didn't have time to climb up on a ladder to get a touch & feel closeup. will do that tomorrow.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Terry, First thing you ned to do is determine if you are inspecting a barrier or drainage EIFS system. Where it adjoins a different material it should have an isolation / transition joint. You may have several problems (where the gardrail attaches, how the EIFS is terminated, how the manufactured stone has been installed and terminated). I don't know your EIFS installer but he most likely will not be what you need to help with the inspection. You should get a price from a certified EIFS inspector and let the client decided what he/she wants to do. Your main concern is the moisture content of the wood behind the EIFS. Stucco installer -No can do EIFS inspector - Yes can do. I'd offer to come up but it looks to damm cold for me (will be in the 80's here today).


  3. #3
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    That really does not look like a typical EIFS system. I'm seeing what looks like a Tyvek type WRB under the mesh at that Woodpecker hole. Where is the insulation board?

    Major problems at the rain gutter area, 99% chance of no diverter flashing. No isolation joints(backer rods and sealants) at the logs or other dissimilar materials. Stains under windows indicate water seepage problems......

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    WELL, it looks like another example of improper stucco application........but being in dry Montana, your builders will probably get away with it like they do here. Too late to fix the problems without a complete tear off. To list a few, no weep screed, no casing bead or backer rod at transitions to windows, logs, no window flashings, etc, and probably others not in your photos. You see guys fail to use casing bead constantly.

    EZ bead Installation Guide - YouTube

    Common hairline cracks shouldn't compromise properly applied EIFS. Yes, stucco can shrink from abutted transitions and wood trims. These guys rarely mix the stucco base coats correctly when they are doing the rest of it wrong, too. Poorly mixed stucco will shrink. Those logs can shrink away from the stucco or even expand and crumble the edge. Regular caulking at windows, doorways, log trim, etc will be needed on this home.

    And finally, are you 100% sure it's EIFS? The woodpecker hole (damn woodpeckers, I just looked at a home Monday where they had set up a condo complex) doesn't clearly show EIFS as I usually see it. Is that polystyrene board?

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    I did not like what I saw at the transition between the EIFS and edges of wall, windows, cultured stone veneer, etc. No obvious expansion joint material. Will be able to poke my finger into the woodpecker holes later today, so will hopefully have a better idea if it is EIFS or some variation of and elasticmeric paint coating.

    Part of the challenge is that this is a bank owned property and the bank gave the buyer a 4-day deadline. The nearest certifiied EIFS inspector is at least 2-4 hours away; short notice to arrange a visit. There is no building inspections around here except at the electrical service entrance, so the local builders are big on style and looks but short on following rules. The local EIFS installer seemed pretty competant when I had a problem once before; he mostly does commercial work in the nearby city.

    I know that I don't have the right EIFS moisture probe to determine how significant the moisture problem around that one window. I tried to read up on flashing details over windows, but the EIFS manufacturers seem to be saying that some windows do not require drip edge flashing at the top (which bothers me). On any other siding material I would call out lack of adequate flashing.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    I did not like what I saw at the transition between the EIFS and edges of wall, windows, cultured stone veneer, etc. No obvious expansion joint material. Will be able to poke my finger into the woodpecker holes later today, so will hopefully have a better idea if it is EIFS or some variation of and elasticmeric paint coating.

    Part of the challenge is that this is a bank owned property and the bank gave the buyer a 4-day deadline. The nearest certifiied EIFS inspector is at least 2-4 hours away; short notice to arrange a visit. There is no building inspections around here except at the electrical service entrance, so the local builders are big on style and looks but short on following rules. The local EIFS installer seemed pretty competant when I had a problem once before; he mostly does commercial work in the nearby city.

    I know that I don't have the right EIFS moisture probe to determine how significant the moisture problem around that one window. I tried to read up on flashing details over windows, but the EIFS manufacturers seem to be saying that some windows do not require drip edge flashing at the top (which bothers me). On any other siding material I would call out lack of adequate flashing.
    Terry, based on what I'm seeing in your few photos and the fact that the buyer has a very short inspection window, I would be inclined to tell them that they might want to keep looking. The home has major issues with the cladding that is on it. What is the cladding? I would not call it an elastomeric coating, it is a type of artificial stucco. You could call it a hybrid system and that would sound better and be closer to really what it is. As for using the local stucco/EFIS guy, that might be who put it on in the first place!!!

    If they are getting the property for a very very good price and they do not mind dropping some serious dollars on the restoration of the cladding then it could be a good deal for the buyer. They need to realize that this will not be a quick or easy repair job. It will most likely involve removing most if not all of the cladding, repairing any hidden damage and then recladding it properly. My experience has shown that this will be in the ballpark of $25-$35 sf for tear off and recladding, does not include repair to hidden damage, drywall, or landscape that is damaged during the restoration. If it was me and in your part of the country I would not put an EIFS type product back on the house, I would look at a stucco system like a Western one coat.

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 01-30-2013 at 08:56 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Stains under windows indicate water seepage problems......

    Hi, Scott

    Do the stains necessarily mean the seepage problems? The left corner should not get too much running down plus it is under dry climate I read from posts.

    I always see stains under the window corners & drip holes especially the North side, which always make me cautious. No further problems found. I thought most stains were from dirt wash down. Let me know if I miss something.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    I think you'll find that that material in the woodpecker hole is not polystyrene and that is a hard coat application. Usually, after a woodpecker drills out the stucco, the styrofoam board is pecked up in seconds and you are down to the drainage plane. I'm not as cut and dry as Scott. Stucco is rarely done correctly. I saw maybe five homes in the last year with properly applied stucco. So, for me, the question becomes, is there a problem and will there be a problem? I know some guys likes to say that it is failing very slowly, but what it isn't? After seeing poor stucco jobs keeping homes dry after 30+ years, some bad stucco jobs are failing very slowly indeed. I don't see evidence in your photos of a quickly failing stucco job.

    Repairs are usually done corner to corner because patches look like......well.......patches. So the repair to that woodpecker hole will be the entire wall. The stains under the windows may be just dirt washing out of the outer track of the windows. Use your moisture meter on the inside around the window.

    If your buyer is really bothered, then they should move on, but if not and they don't mind doing regular caulking maintenance, then maybe this home will work for them.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    Hi, Scott

    Do the stains necessarily mean the seepage problems? The left corner should not get too much running down plus it is under dry climate I read from posts.

    I always see stains under the window corners & drip holes especially the North side, which always make me cautious. No further problems found. I thought most stains were from dirt wash down. Let me know if I miss something.
    Experience has taught me that whenever I see stains running from a roof to wall joining, a window, etc that usually water is seeping into that area as well. Sure it could just be dirt or marks from water running down the metal but that is usually not the case..

    If you have a Protimeter SM, you should check the interior walls adjacent to any area of concern if you can access it. Us it in the non-invasive mode, it is good for about an inch or so. Look at the baseboards and for any small sign that water is seeping into the wall. Most of the time you will see little signs, like water spots, gaps at miter joints, puckering of the wood or just a funny look to the drywall. I use a Tramex Moisture Encounter for interior work, it has about a 2-3 inch moisture reading depth.

    Yes, I'm pretty straight forward and do not beat around the bush and it pays off in many ways. I'm not gruff or rude, but I tell my clients what they need to know based on what I have seen over the years with this stuff. From what I see in the pictures this is a little more than a caulking job..

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Thank you, Scott.

    I think in this case the local climate is very important. It may be fine even EIFS in dry climates.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Why not call it 'Synthetic Stucco' instead of EIFS. Then there may or may not be foam behind it.

    Scott is right. The lack of detailing in these few places indicates the whole exterior is done wrong.

    If water is backing up in the trough, then the slope on the gutter is wrong, too.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  12. #12
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Got a better look at it today close up. Looking into the holes where the woodpeckers had their fun, I see the EIFS top coats over fiberglass mesh, styrofoam, and Tyvek or similar house wrap. No indication of an adhesive remanent on the house wrap, so assume it was attached with mechanical fasteners. Certainly no drainage plain.

    Pic 1 is close up of hole. Pic 2 is bottom edge of the siding. Pic 3 is top of window. Pic 4 show how water is running down the drainage channel of the window frame.

    The cracks at the perimeters of the EIFS certainly indicate the lack of any sort of transition or expansion joint. Certainly would have been needed where it butts up to the timbers (cosmetic only) because of how the wood dries and shrinks the first few years.

    As I said, they actually did put kickout flashing at the junction of the roof and wall, but it was overwhelmed by leaves in the gutter and a large volume of melting snow.

    Even though there is no transition or drip edge at the top of the windows, he may have gotten lucky. The windows are a high-end Pella that seems to have integrated flashing. The water is flowing onto the window, and down side channels built into the window frame (gotta love Pella windows). When I checked this morning before the snow began melting, the EIFS below the window seemed dry, until the runoff came pouring out of the gutter. It may actually be possible that the water is not seeping behind the EIFS.

    Still don't like how the roof drains down over the window, but I also consider that to be an architectural flaw. No architect should ever plan a window or door under the junction of a roof against a wall - no matter what the siding material is (that's what I told the buyer).

    I gave him my two cents, and the name of a EIFS inspector a few hundred miles away, and a good local EIFS installer. Let him figure it out. The last time I ran into an EIFS problem (worse than this actually), it ran $37,000 dollars tor replace the siding. After I told him about the potential worst case scenario problems, his question to me was "how long before problems show up?". You know what, I'm pretty sure that he buys it anyway with plans to flip it a year from now; he doesn't plan to live in this expensive home, just one of several investments. So when I do the home inspection for the next buyer, I can tell him the facts again (it is a small valley).

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Picture #3 does look like they used casing bead, so they may have done that correctly. It's always fun to inspect the same house a year or so later for another buyer. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled up in front of a house and had a deja vue moment. I had inspected it a year earlier. I'm not sure what my disclosure responsibilities are in these situations, so I always tell the buyer that I have inspected this home earlier.

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  14. #14

    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Terry
    Put up some more pictures. Show me the kick-out flashing and anything else you have questions on.

    Mark Parlee
    The Building Consultant www.thebuildingconsultant.com
    “Real Solutions for Real Problems” EDI EIFS and Building Envelope

  15. #15
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Terry, EIFS is easy because it's almost always wrong. As soon as I know the backer roads are absent I'm pretty much done with evaluating the siding.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  16. #16
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Terry,

    Your photos are interesting and show a number of installation faults. The kickout may be one, the ledge where the EIFS meets the stone is another, and there are other faults in the photos that indicate a poor installation.

    The presence of the building wrap (beneath the EPS) indicates a drainage plane. Although the system may be classified as a Water Managed system, because I do not see a provision for the water to exit out (where I should in your photos), I would classify this system as Dysfunctional.

    Be careful when giving the areas around the Pella windows a clean bill of health. The windows may be fine, but you have no idea what is happening to the structure beneath the surface... where it counts!

    The only way to determine if there is damage beneath the surface is to test beneath the surface. The only was to evaluate the entire system is to test the entire system. I know of very few EIFS contractors who do such testing.

    The wisest recommendation that you can offer is to have the entire system tested by a qualified Certified Moisture Analyst/Building Envelope Inspector/EIFS Inspector, that is going to properly test the system.

    As bad as it may be to give the home a clean bill of health (regarding the EIFS), and finding out afterwards that there is extensive damage; it is just as bad to condemn a system, and when it is removed, the damage found is limited to a few areas that could have easily been corrected and repaired.

    Another reason not to rely on an EIFS contractor to test the system is that in many (if not most... if not almost all) circumstances, when left up to the contractor; they may repair the surface damage, and make the installation look "pretty", but do not address the original cause of the failure. It is the inspector's job (should he decide to include) to specify repairs/mitigation.

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 02-08-2013 at 08:32 AM.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Here are some photos of damage at a missing kick-out.
    Notice the worms coming out of the OSB 7' above grade.

    These problems can be serious and you won't know it unless you do a stucco assessment.
    I do inspections for a couple of national companies and run into this sort of of problems on most of my EIFS inspections.

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  18. #18

    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Same house
    Window leak behind the ACMV
    The problems we will see in the future with moisture damage behind the ACMV will eclipse in entirety the moisture damage behind EIFS.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Mark, I see a moisture barrier (thus drainage plane), and there appears to be drainage at the bottom of the system. What would u say is the cause of the extreme damage?

    Was the bottom flashed/clearance?

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Then again, I dont see drainage at the bottom of the stone veneer.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  21. #21

    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Steve
    The arrow is pointing to an opening in the frame of the window. This was a big part of the moisture entry within the assembly
    This home was built in 98 and I am surprised I found the window tape. the bottom flange was taped in hence the advanced damage in the wood frame in this area.
    These types of systems are often dammed where the ACMV laps over onto the foundation because they do not bring the double paper to the bottom of the ACMV assembly; so no it was not drainabe.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    I noticed the bottom of the veneer. Common error.

    It's difficult for me to see in the pics, but those look like welded frames; if the flanges were taped they shouldn't leak. Since the screws look factory, maybe they aren't welded? If so, that explains everything.

    The R.O. wasn't prepared either.

    It was doomed the day it was installed.

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 02-09-2013 at 01:13 AM.
    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  23. #23

    Default Re: EIFS, gaps normal?

    Steve
    Those frame miters are to contain an injection of sealant. The corners are not welded. This particular window company was named in the ensuing action and did reach an agreement with my clients.
    You are correct the RO's were not properly prepared by the standards and recommendations we have today. The window tape sill pans were not in existence when this home was built in 97 98 range but sill pans were, however no one was using them around here in the residential market.
    If the window frame hadn't leaked then the damage would not have been so extensive. I do believe the potential of damage would have still been there due to the fact that tha system was not drainable and there was not a backer rod and sealant bead at the window perimeter.

    Mark Parlee
    The Building Consultant www.thebuildingconsultant.com
    “Real Solutions for Real Problems” EDI EIFS and Building Envelope

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