Bad Stucco & Ice Damming – The Damage It Can Cause! – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

I was recently called out to a residence to ascertain whether there was a mold problem or not in an attic. A local builder who was aware of mold remediation work we had done at the (HBA) Home Builders Office in Chester County had referred the client to me.

He wasn’t sure if the stains on some of the building materials in the attic were mold or not, he didn’t think so, but wanted to be cautious. One of the aspects that made the situation so interesting was that he was called out to renovate all the interior walls and floors as the insurance company was picking up the tab based on ice damming.

Upon arriving the homeowner proceeded to describe how water had just poured out the top of most of the windows and cascaded down the walls onto the hardwood floors of the first floor. I found the attic bone dry including all the way down into the eaves. I couldn’t find a single elevated moisture reading or thermal image indicating that anything was wet. The dark wood stains were nothing more than different wood species that had been used for the four hip rafters of the mansard roof 35 years ago. Mold doesn’t grow on one piece of framing and not on the ones adjoining it, certainly not repeating that pattern in all four corners.

The second floor had sustained some damage; thermal imaging detected some moisture in the interstitial cavities, but not what I would have suspected. Going into the basement with the homeowner she explained how water just poured off the steel I-beam in the basement.

The last piece of this unique water intrusion was on the first floor bearing wall running right through the middle of the house. Water had run down the wall heavily 18′ from the left elevation wall towards the kitchen ruining the hardwood floors. You could see the water stains on the gypsum wallboard.

So, how did the water come in especially down interior walls by-passing the attic and the ceilings on the second floor? The answer…ice damming allowed water to pour out of the soffits and through capillary action it ran across the bottom of the soffit and behind the faulty stucco cladding as there was no sealant joint at the stucco to soffit intersection. From there, it just ran down behind the stucco and into the cavities at the window heads because the windows were not flashed properly and there was no properly installed drainage plane in place. The interior wall issue was also related to the lack of a drainage plane because the water just ran in along the bearing wall.

Faulty stucco installation is way more common then most people realize. If you suspect that you might have issues with your stucco, contact us as to find out what options you have for investigating it.

Craig Camel

Advanced Mold Diagnostics