Hardcoat and Synthetic Stucco/EIFS
Hardcoat and Synthetic Stucco/EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems) exterior sidings have sometimes been found to allow water to leak behind the surface – around windows, doors, joints and flashings as well as through cracks and holes. Once water penetrates the surface, it can be trapped there or drain out very slowly. This water can cause extensive damage to walls, floor joists, window and door frames and other moisture sensitive components. Further, moisture is conducive to infestations of termites, carpenter ants, wood decaying fungus, other wood destroying organisms and mold. It can also make such infestations difficult to treat and control. Moisture and the resulting infestations can remain undetected for years, even with periodic termite inspections since the problem is hidden from view.
Exterior Cladding Below Soil Level
Additional problems can occur when some types of exterior cladding (Synthetic Stucco/EIFS, RBI/Rigid Board Insulation, Masonry Stucco/Hardcoat and other cladding materials other than brick) and the insulation associated with them extend below grade (below the soil level). They can obscure the view of an inspector looking for signs of infestations, provide a channel for termites to access the wood of a structure undetected, or even “wick up” moisture causing the moisture related problems discussed above.
Recommendations for Exterior Cladding
We recommend that owners have a qualified contractor remove all cladding (other than brick) below grade or within 6” of the finished grade where possible. Before doing so, however, you should contact your homebuilder, cladding manufacturer or other entity providing any warranty on your home, to be sure that you will not alter or void that warranty by removing the cladding. In addition, inspection of your home for moisture intrusion and moisture related problems should be performed by a specially trained home inspector with specialized equipment (Alexander is not specially trained in this type of inspection). The inspector you choose can work with you to determine if other measures are needed.