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Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) typically consists of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulating board fastened directly to the wall with either adhesive or with screws and then covered with fiberglass mesh and acrylic stucco. EIFS, originally designed as a water barrier system, has evolved into a hybrid combination of a barrier system over a drainage system. This evolution occurred when it was discovered that improper installation of the EIFS material combined with poorly designed construction details conspired to permit water intrusion into the wall structure. This generally resulted in structural damage and costly repairs. Modern synthetic stucco systems use a secondary water barrier in back of the foam board to protect the wall framing from water intrusion. These secondary barriers work well if they are properly installed.

It is impossible to perform a definitive evaluation of an EIFS clad wall after the installation is complete. However, a careful examination of the construction details combined with a systematic survey of the EIFS surfaces with a non-invasive moisture meter will often reveal water intrusion problems.

The moisture surveys are conducted using a Tramex Wet Wall Detector and Delmhorst model BD 2100. The Tramex Wet Wall Detector is a non-invasive moisture meter used to find wet areas under the EIFS. It measures moisture on a relative scale. It is very accurate in that it does not give false negatives. However, it will give false positives. Therefore, when moisture is detected, a probe type, moisture meter must be used to measure the actual moisture content of the wood and confirm the findings of the Tramex.

A Delmhorst moisture meter is used to measure the precise moisture content of the wood. The probes on this moisture meter are pushed through the lamina and into the surface of the wood. Holes in the lamina are sealed with caulk after the probes are withdrawn. The moisture content of the wood is displayed on an LCD screen. This moisture meter is very accurate when used correctly. The normal moisture content of the exterior wall sheathing when no exterior moisture source is present is approximately 10-12%. Moisture content in the range of 15-25% generally indicates that an exterior moisture source is present, typically caused by leakage around a window, door or flashing. Moisture content in excess of 25% is indicative of a construction, design or EIFS installation defect and is the result of chronic water intrusion. Moisture content in excess of 25% is conducive to the growth of wood destroying organisms. Chronic wetting of the wood will result the growth of rot fungi which will cause structural damage to wood framing.

Inspections include a comprehensive photo-documentary report detailing the exact construction defects along with recommended repair options. We can also recommend qualified contractors and perform quality assurance inspections during the repair process.

We also provide code required special inspections for EIFS air and water barriers.

Contact markmitman@msn.com for additional information.