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  1. #1
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    Apr 2020
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    Default Stucco separating at corners

    I have stucco on tall columns separating at the exterior corners. They were partially repaired by stucco patch / caulk, but the problem has re-appeared. Any ideas of the cause for this separation? Also, any ideas on permanent fixes? (Pictures are attached). Thank you. - Adam

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Orlando, FL
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    Nothing in the photos to establish a sense of scale, or orientation.
    No idea what type of construction you have in the assembly either, or it's age, and geographical location.

    Stucco can develop cracks for many reasons, need way more details and better photos to even start "guessing".


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    Stucco, or EIFS?

    Knock on it with your knuckles - if it sounds hollow, it is EIFS (or very loose stucco, which is unlikely to be that 'loose', there is another test to find loose stucco); if your knuckles hurt (stucco is hard and rough), then it will be stucco.

    Each has its own issues which could cause that.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Apr 2020
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    LA
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    Apologies for the lack of details. Do these additional photographs help for perspective? The house is approximately 9 years old. The cracks run vertically up each side for several feet where indicated. The house is entirely Portland Cement / Stucco with a dash finish. It is located in New Orleans, and is built on a pier and beam foundation. Thank you again for your thoughts.

    - Adam

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    A guess/possibility.....swelling substrate from moisture intrusion.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    Some possibilities: (presumption: stucco on frame construction)
    - improper lath (use of chicken wire instead of metal lath)
    - improper lath attachment
    - improper bond breaker and drainage plane (such as paper backed metal lath without a drainage plane behind it, the paper attached to the metal lath is a bond breaker, not a drainage plane); no bond breaker; no drainage plane; any or all of which could cause what Dom suggested
    - improper accessories, lack of use of accessories, improper attachment of accessories, no attachment of accessories
    - lath not fully bedded in the scratch coat

    To test for loose stucco, use a welder's chipping hammer (similar to these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lincoln-...H530/100341076 or this https://www.lowesforpros.com/pd/Fire...mer/1000973724 ). Slide the side of the head across the face of the stucco while holding the 'spring' handle, listen for the tell-tale 'singing sound' made when the hammer moves over loose stucco. Holding the 'spring' handle lessens the vibration dampening effect your hand would have on a regular hammer handle, various tools and objects work, but these hammers work best to find loose stucco.

    Try it on those columns and areas, starting in the center of the column/area and moving outward.

    Once you find a patch of loose stucco, you will immediately note the different sound from stucco which is not loose, trace out the size and shape of the area you need to repair ... or ignore ... your choice.

    Note that my presumption is that the house is not a block house with stucco, but is frame with stucco. Many things could be the cause.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    MONTREAL QUEBEC-CANADA
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    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    Removed dryvit post. Ops.
    Doesn't look like any pebbledash I have seen.

    Identifying Various Cracks In Stucco
    I would have taken images at the bottom of the stucco at foundation level looking up.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 04-27-2020 at 06:43 PM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Stucco separating at corners

    So, can we get pictures of the full front of the house, the details we need are of the problem(s), typically well above the location of the symptoms (cracks). From there we may need more pictures. If possible all shots should be taken from far away to show what we are looking at, progressively closer details, sometimes from different angles for more effective lighting and perspective when shooting mono-tones like stucco.

    In the meantime, some of the other areas that are going to help diagnose which local expert to call are: the flashing details at the patio above the front door, the soffit above the front door as that appears to have something going on as well, the flashing details at the top of those walls/build outs you are calling columns - (could be hard to photograph well), details at the windows and other areas marked with circles on the attached pic. I see you have highlighted an outside corner of the house as cracking, we will probably need pics up both sides of the house at the corner.

    As we have not yet determined the exact composition of this exterior finish - you say Portland cement/stucco (not the same thing), but it looks like the top coat may have been an acrylic product. If you can find a place to shoot a cross section of the stucco (sometimes possible at penetrations through the stucco such as electrical boxes (for which the light fixture or electrical outlet might need be removed), service penetrations etc. It may be necessary to drill through the stucco in locations to perform tests for moisture penetration, stucco thickness, presence/type of lath and water resistive barrier, backing/supporting material etc.

    As you can see, the amount of pictures require may mean it simpler, faster and more effective to hire a local inspector, but it would be a fun exercise for us to try to diagnose it from 1000's of miles away.

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    Egbert Jager
    Diamond Home Inspection
    http://www.diamondhomeinspection.ca

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