Often times, homeowners are blindsided by the damage hidden under their stucco walls. These are some of the more frequently asked questions we tend to hear from our customers, along with answers from our team of stucco remediation experts.
What is stucco siding?
Stucco has been used for thousands of years. Modern stucco siding is usually a mixture of an aggregate like sand, a binder like Portland cement, and water. This mixture is then applied to a wood framed construction.
While stucco siding was very popular in our region for decades, many homes were improperly constructed, and over time this has led to hundreds of damaged homes in and around southeast Pennsylvania.
My stucco is turning black – is this a problem?
Yes! This could be a sign that moisture has leaked into your home and created dangerous mold problems. In this case, it is highly recommended that you hire a stucco inspector to find out what the extent of the damage is.
What are other signs of stucco damage?
- Stucco appears to dry unevenly after a rain
- Black streaking on the home (especially near window corners, downspouts, chimneys, and roof/wall intersections)
- Excessive cracking, flaking, or crumbling
- Leaks in doors or windows
- The wall appears to bulge or bow out
Can’t I just power wash the stucco instead of getting an inspection?
It is not recommended to use pressure washers on stucco siding as this can cause additional damage to the stucco. On top of that, cleaning the damage off the façade does nothing to solve the underlying issue. It’s crucial to find out if you have moisture problems hiding within your walls.
What causes stucco to fail? And why does my siding need to be repaired or replaced?
Stucco that is in need of replacement and remediation is usually the result of excess moisture. In many cases, this moisture has been accumulating for years – out of view – and the issue only comes to light when the homeowner notices that their stucco appears to dry unevenly or when it shows other signs of moisture.
While there may be other causes that require replacement or remediation of stucco exteriors, excess moisture that infiltrates your home is the most common. This happens over time when stucco was installed with faulty vapor barriers, improperly installed flashing around windows, or even the complete lack of important moisture controls.
Most stucco failure results from one or more of the following issues:
- Moisture barriers (such as flashing or WRBs) installed incorrectly or missing altogether
- Drainage systems (such as weep screeds and downspouts) installed incorrectly or missing altogether
- The meeting between the wall and components such as windows and fireplaces installed incorrectly
- Expansion joints installed incorrectly or missing, leading to extensive cracking
- Stucco is too thin or too thick
Do I really need to fix my stucco problems?
If left untreated, the water damage caused by stucco failure will lead to rotting wood, mold, and mildew, which can cause serious ailments and health concerns for the building’s occupants. These health risks include:
- Upper respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing, congestion, shortness of breath
- Asthma attacks
- Asthma development in children
In addition to health concerns, putting off stucco repair can also create financial and safety risks:
- Decreased resale value of home
- Discoloration of walls
- Liability of selling a home with mold damage
- Higher utility bills and wasted energy from insulation damage
- Compromised structural integrity and fire risks
Why have so many homes in this area experienced expensive damages related to stucco?
For decades, stucco siding was one of the most popular choice for new homes in the area. Unfortunately, stucco was often installed incorrectly by builders who didn’t understand how to properly prevent moisture from getting into the walls. The has led to water accumulating for years – out of unsuspecting home owners’ view.
The combination of stucco’s popularity here, the intensity of Northeast weather, and the overabundance of inexperienced stucco contractors has proven to be a perfect storm, leading building scientists to label southern Pennsylvania “the stucco failure capital of the United States.” Over the past 15 years, failures continue at an astounding rate: over 80% of homes with stucco siding have experienced stucco failure.
What does the typical process for fixing stucco siding look like?
For a successful stucco remediation, homeowners should follow this process:
- Visual inspection – Check for the most common stucco failure warning signs.
- Professional inspection – A stucco inspector can use thermal imaging, infrared cameras, probe testing, or destructive testing to determine the extent of the damage.
- Stucco remediation – Our team can guide you through the remediation process, including what needs to be replaced, what materials you want to use, and designing the look and feel of your home’s new facade.
Our method of stucco remediation replaces your inadequate siding with a material that is much better suited to the southeastern Pennsylvania environment. In our experience, this is the ideal solution in most circumstances.
Does Precision Contracting Services perform stucco inspections?
No. In fact, you should consider it a red flag if your stucco inspector also performs stucco repair or remediation services. It is not in a homeowner’s best interest to contract with these companies, as they have an inherent interest in finding a problem in your home.
If you would like a referral for a stucco inspector in your area, feel free to contact us.
What is “stucco remediation” anyway?
“Remediation” is defined as “the action of remedying something, in particular of reversing or stopping environmental damage.”
As opposed to a simple “repair” of a specific area within the stucco (such as cracks, tears, and other temporary fixes), stucco remediation means solving the underlying issues causing damage to your home.
Can I replace my faulty stucco with “better” stucco?
In nearly all cases, exterior construction experts recommend against simple stucco repair or replacing your failed siding with new stucco. Instead, to avoid future water damage, stucco remediation should completely remove the failed siding and your stucco contractor should replace it with a more trustworthy material such as James Hardie fiber cement siding.
What are the advantages of James Hardie fiber cement siding?
Precision Contracting Services counts on James Hardie to provide the following advantages:
- High resistance to water penetration and inclement weather such as hail, snow, driving rain and wind
- Does not crack, peel, bend, warp or bow to ensure that homeowners have a long-lasting product that offers the protection they need and the great looks they want
- High-quality construction that lasts for years
- Low maintenance
- Attractive appearance that can mimic the look of woodgrain, clapboard, stone or other materials
Any other questions?
If you have a specific question that isn’t answered here, give us a call or send us a message. One of our stucco specialists would love to help answer your questions.