Stucco Remediation, Mildew and Termites

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Stucco Remediation, Mold and Termites

Both commercial and residential properties can have stucco as a coating on the exterior of a building. Stucco is applied to give a pleasing finish to concrete block, brick, and masonry building materials. Stucco can be a good stormwater drain from the outside of the building when installed and coated.

PROBLEMS WITH STUCK. Unfortunately, cracks can form in the stucco as the building settles or the exterior finish is damaged directly. Once water is allowed to penetrate the coating, whether through an opening in the stucco itself or beneath its surface, fragile stucco can begin to warp and crumble. Wood is a common construction material that is often used as a substrate under stucco. It can absorb moisture at or below the surface of the earth and direct it away from the original source of the problem.

Stucco can be applied to masonry such as brick or stone, which can also be damaged by moisture ingress. Problems with groundwater or drainage are particularly problematic. Damage to the stucco itself leads to further moisture infiltration, which aggravates the deterioration of the surface, as well as the substrate. This water infiltration leads to wood rot and mold on building frames and wall cavities.

Spray foam contributes to stucco moisture problems

Commercial and residential buildings with spray foam insulation in wall voids, attics, and crawl spaces can be prone to stucco damage from water, wood rot, and mold. When moisture ingress occurs, spray foam insulation often hides water damage. Over time, wood rot and possible termite infestation will occur. With polyurethane foam (SPF) spray insulation, home inspectors and pest control experts are finding that the spray foam can hide termite activity.

Most termites prefer moist wood. Hidden water damage increases the potential for termites to take up residence and thrive, so to speak. In certain cases, the spray foam insulation can trap moisture or make it difficult to identify the moisture problem. If the PMP doesn’t correct this and then termites appear, both problems are more difficult to identify and manage.

An interior wall cavity with stucco paneling had a hairline crack that allowed moisture to penetrate over time. Termite damage was discovered in the cave.

The process of stucco repair is referred to as “stucco restoration”. A client’s first instinct might be to call a plastering company to fix the facade of their home, but that might not be the right thing to do. Companies that do “stucco only” have the expertise to remove and replace the home’s existing facade.

This repair and refurbishment process mainly takes place around windows, gutters, doors, covings and the cavities of the stucco walls. As a rule, the wrong materials and laying as well as water-permeable screed are the problem. While this is important, it can simply mask the effects caused by humidity. The structural integrity of your client’s home may still be at risk if underlying problems persist. Simply put, a stucco repair company might lack the knowledge and ability to identify and fix the problems that arise from the water damage. And if not corrected properly, it can lead to even more damage and costs in the future.

Moisture infiltration most commonly affects stucco-clad homes, but can also affect homes made of brick, stone, wood, or composite siding. In my experience, these moisture issues typically affect homes built between 1985 and 2003. It’s crucial that the right person inspects your client’s home for damage to find and repair problems with the home’s wood structure that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Rot and mold within the wall cavity can cause serious damage costing thousands of dollars in repairs and sanitation. A stucco moisture test should be carried out. A stucco moisture test may include external and internal probe tests where sample test holes are cut in substrates, a moisture meter test, an infrared camera test, and an endoscope test.

RECOMMENDED ACTION. Pest control companies can perform stucco inspection and maintenance if they are properly trained to do so. The following is a list of best practices your employees should follow when considering using this service offering:

  1. Commercial and residential properties must be inspected and maintained regularly and a Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) report must be prepared.
  2. Infrared cameras, moisture meters, and endoscopes may also be required for termite inspections. Your technicians should be trained in the use of this specialized equipment and have access to it if necessary.
  3. Stepping and sloping the site groundscape and soil away from the building helps keep moisture away from the stucco.
  4. Installing downspouts, gutters, flashing and other means to direct water away from the building will prevent the damage from getting worse.
  5. Consider conducting a stucco inspection with visual, invasive and non-invasive moisture readings and thermal imaging.

Regular maintenance and inspection of exterior stucco trim is critical to preventing water and moisture intrusion in commercial and residential properties. By mitigating the ingress of primary water damage and leakage from exterior stucco siding, secondary damage to commercial and residential properties can be prevented. These best practices will help pest control companies protect and mitigate commercial and residential properties from plaster cleaning, water ingress, wood rot, mold and termites.

The author is Marketing Director for SERVPRO in Blackwood and Gloucester Township, NJ, a small veteran-owned US Navy business. He is a member of the New Jersey Pest Management Association and a registered government contractor.

What is stucco?

Stucco or plaster is a building material made from aggregates, a binder and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens into a very dense body. It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, exterior walls, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture. Stucco can be applied to building materials such as metal, expanded metal batten, concrete, cinder block, or adobe and adobe brick for decorative and structural purposes.

In English “stucco” sometimes refers to a coating for the outside of a building and “gypsum” to a coating for the interior; However, the materials themselves often show little to no difference.

Source: Wikipedia