History of EIFS Inspections
Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) is a wall cladding that has gained traction in the residential markets since the 1980s and continues in multiple varieties to be installed today. It was introduced in Europe following World War II and was used on stone or masonry buildings mainly. The main idea is to add insulation to the exterior of the building, and finish it with a thin mesh and cementious finish which also provides an attractive stucco appearance.
EIFS was introduced to the American market in the 1960s and had relatively little use until the 1980s when it became more popular on higher end homes. In the American residential sector, it is mainly installed over wood framed homes and has a variety of methods or types. The first main iterations were barrier systems and did not include drainage planes behind the EIFS system, and there have been many failures of these systems resulting in much damage to homes due to rot, mold, and pest damage. There are multiple manufacturers, installation methods, and types of EIFS, however they have all had failures and resulting damage due mainly to incorrect installation detailing allowing water to penetrate into the wall system.
EIFS Inspection Process
We inspect the EIFS system, associated components such as windows and flashing, and provide a written reports on the system including any deficiencies noted such as failed sealant, cracking, clearance issues, improperly installed EIFS materials, missing or improper flashing, improperly sealed penetrations, and more. Concentration is focused on areas surrounding windows, at and below diverter roof / wall flashings, at all penetrations through the EIFS system, and anywhere the system is too close to or buried in the ground cover. Windows are also inspected to look for possible water entry points such as gapping leaky miter joints and blocked weep holes. We attempt to provide as much information about the system as possible so you can be educated about the system to make informed decisions. We can do a visual inspection of the EIFS system in any weather, as it is not dependent on dry weather for accurate results.
Following a visual inspection, the option is to continue with a TRAMEX moisture meter specifically designed for EIFS inspections which is used to search for elevated moisture levels below the surface. The EIFS areas of the structure are scanned at common suspect areas such as below windows, below roof / wall diverter flashings (commonly called kickout flashing), around any cracking, and around any penetration of the EIFS system such as at lights, hose bibs, etc. Areas found to be elevated in moisture are marked for follow on moisture probing with moisture meter pins inserted through the EIFS to the wall sheathing behind the foam insulation.
Prior to performing an EIFS inspection, we require a minimum of 24 hours of dry weather to avoid the potential of interference with accurate readings due to recent rain and water.
EIFS Moisture Testing
If elevated moisture levels are located or damage is suspect AND we have written permission to do so, we then follow with inserting probes through the EIFS surface and insulation back to the wall sheathing and checking the moisture level of the sheathing.** The firmness of the sheathing is also checked using a probe to attempt to determine if rot or decay has occurred. The holes are then sealed with silicone matched to color as closely as possible to prevent water entry. In some cases the sheathing could be dry at the time of the inspection, but contain decay. Using these methods, we inspect all areas of EIFS and attempt to determine the condition of the wall sheathing. Our findings are detailed in a written report following the inspection.
** Written permission from the home owner is always required prior to any invasive probing of the EIFS system. If written permission is not provided, we simply stop at the non-invasive moisture meter scanning and provide a written report of our findings. It is then up to the customer to take it further if any invasive investigation techniques are desired in the future.
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