Eifs Condo Exterior Walls- everything you wanted to know but were affraid to ask

by Jim Reicherts

Manager-Exterior Panels and Systems

http://www.usg.com/gyprels/reicht.htm United States Gypsum Company

In late 1995, local building inspectors in New Hanover County, N.C. discovered that hundreds of homes sided with Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) had sustained varying degrees of moisture damage. The situation prompted United States Gypsum Company, a manufacturer of EIFS and other stucco-look exteriors, to conduct extensive research into the application and performance of "barrier" EIFS. This article describes what we discovered -- and what we're doing about it.

"Barrier" EIFS construction is not practical or reliable for either residential or commercial construction. That's the conclusion United States Gypsum Company has reached following extensive research to determine the cause of widespread EIFS moisture-damage problems on homes in New Hanover County, N.C.

The basic problem is that barrier EIFS does not account for the fact that moisture can -- and will -- penetrate the exterior wall surface. Once moisture penetrates a barrier EIFS wall, it remains trapped inside the wall cavity, where it eventually rots water-sensitive sheathings and framing. This has been proven to be true not just in coastal North Carolina, but in many other areas of the country as well.

However, there is good news. A logical, practical solution to "barrier" construction is available. We're calling it Water-Managed Exterior Finish Systems. Water-managed systems deliver the same aesthetics and design flexibility as conventional EIFS. However, because they also incorporate flashing and weeping details, and a drainage plane, water-managed systems are better able to cope with any water which enters the system. Like other conventional exteriors, including brick and cedar lap and shingle sidings, water-managed systems provide a means of escape for intruding water. It's a basic -- and time-tested -- construction premise.

What We've Learned

Following the discovery of the moisture-damage problems in Wilmington, N.C., the USG Corporation Research Center contracted with the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) to investigate the extent and the cause of the performance problems. NRCC, based in Ottawa, Canada, is an internationally recognized research laboratory with specific expertise in the performance of building envelopes. The group conducted a field investigation on several USG EIFS homes located in Wilmington and subsequently conducted detailed laboratory testing of EIFS walls subjected to climate conditions and construction methods typically found in the Wilmington area. The results of the research, completed during the first quarter of 1996, revealed:

While the field of the wall did not show signs of water penetration, water did intrude the system through a variety of means. The most common paths for water entry are:

1) Windows

Causes: 1) Through gaps in joined multiple windows; 2) Through improper sealing around sill/jamb intersections where improper use of sealants and backer rods; 3) Through penetration in the window joints which drained water behind the system at the sill.

2) Wall/Roof Intersections

Cause: Inadequate flashing details allow water to get behind the system

3) Wall Penetrations (i.e. electrical and plumbing services)

Cause: Improper sealing allows water to get behind the system

Laboratory testing also revealed that water which intrudes an EIFS is restricted in its ability to dry, due to multiple vapor barrier conditions. The multiple vapor barrier is created by the water-resistant surface of the EIFS wall, the sheathing and vapor barriers on the interior walls (a poly vapor barrier and/or paint).

NRCC tests revealed that specific drying times for OSB structural sheathing (under climate conditions similar to those found in Wilmington, N.C.) are as follows:

Interior poly vapor barrier and no paint on interior walls: 100 weeks No interior poly vapor barrier and two coats of high-quality paint: 35 weeks No interior poly vapor barrier and one coat of average quality paint spray-applied: 4 weeks

These lengthy drying times, resulting from the inability of the wall to breath and dissipate water, can lead to an environment where micro-organisms can attack sheathing and dimensional lumber, causing wood rot.

USG's analysis of the research suggests the problem is not confined to warm, high- moisture climates such as coastal North Carolina. Wherever rain can intrude the EIFS "barrier" through wall/roof intersections, windows and other penetrations, there is the potential that the moisture will remain in the wall cavity and damage water-sensitive sheathings and structural members.

The Impact On Commercial EIFS Applications

While U.S. Gypsum's research has necessarily been focused primarily on residential EIFS applications, a number of conclusions can also be drawn for commercial installations of barrier systems.

First, it should be noted that the construction and maintenance on a typical commercial EIFS is often of better quality than that of a typical residential application. This is not because commercial contractors are more skilled than residential contractors. Rather, it is due to the fact that commercial construction is more closely supervised and regulated by architectural and/or design professionals, helping to ensure that critical EIFS detailing such as backer rods and sealants are properly installed and maintained.

Another critical difference is window construction. Commercial projects generally feature fixed windows which are less prone to moisture infiltration than the wooden jambs and sills or joined multiple windows found on residential construction. Roof construction also differs -- as commercial projects often do not feature the complex multiple roof slopes and valley and wall/roof intersections found on residential construction. Commercial EIFS applications are also usually applied over steel framing (except for smaller jobs) ... and steel framing does not rot when exposed to moisture.

While all these factors help battle water intrusion problems, the potential for serious trouble still remains, particularly when EIFS is applied over water-sensitive substrates. Commercial EIFS applications have failed due to moisture penetration ... and we feel, because of the inherent deficiencies in barrier EIFS construction, they will likely continue to fail.

Commercial EIFS specifiers should be aware of several other related issues resulting from the North Carolina EIFS situation. First, as there are now at least seven class action lawsuits pending against EIFS manufacturers, the controversy over EIFS isn't about to go away. The class action suits which have been filed are not confined to North Carolina, but allege that the problems with EIFS are nationwide. The information generated by most of the manufacturers still offering barrier EIFS is slanted towards defending the class action suits. More factual and therefore more reliable information will come from third parties such as the NAHB, code bodies and independent research laboratories.

Secondly, specifiers should be aware of the potential for much stricter regulations regarding EIFS for both residential and commercial construction. The North Carolina Building Code Council has already enacted very strict guidelines for EIFS construction and other states are expected to follow suit. The Exterior Insulation Manufacturer's Association (EIMA), while deploring the strict code requirements, has emphasized more applicator training and may move to certification of applicators and third party inspections. However, no one knows how much this will cost, who will pay for it and whether this assures the long-term performance that homeowners and building owners desire.

In light of all these concerns, USG stopped marketing barrier EIFS in April, 1996. Given the fact that all EIFS wall assembly components must be designed, installed and maintained to function as water barriers and strict adherence to manufacturer guidelines must be adhered to, we feel that barrier EIFS is simply not practical or reliable. Instead USG has returned to a more traditional approach and has concluded that "water-managed" stucco-look exteriors is the most logical way for the industry to proceed.

USG is currently offering several insulated and uninsulated Water-Managed Exterior Finish Systems and the company is researching more options which it expects to introduce in coming months.

(From BUILDER, March 1996 )


Troubleshooters Target EIFS
By Rick Schwolsky

Senior Editor, Building

Like forecasters tracking a hurricane, builders all over the country are following a swirling controversy in North and South Carolina about moisture-damaged homes with exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) -- synthetic stucco applied over foam sheathing.

Researchers have descended on the region to study the damage. They seem to have identified the problem: Water from outside is getting into exterior walls and damaging framing, sheathing, and in some cases, interior finishes.

EIFS surfaces aren't failing. Instead, water is leaking through surface penetrations, around flashings at architectural details, and past caulked joints around window and door openings (often the only thing standing between a dry wall and a bad reputation).

Here's what researchers found:

The North Carolina Home Builders Association says 95 percent of randomly tested houses have some problem; damages average $3,000 to $5,000.

The American Institute of Architects found unacceptable moisture levels in 90 percent of the 205 houses it tested.

The EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA) inspected 68 houses: 20 had $1,500 or less in damages, 35 had damage of $3,000 or less, and six had damage of more than $10,000.

The situation is keeping local inspectors busy. "Out of 73 homes we tested, we only found two that were dry," says Allen Golden, assistant director of inspections for Hanover County, N.C. (which includes Wilmington, where the problem is centered).

The moisture damage in the others ranged from a couple of wet windows to total loss, says Golden.

Several Carolina builders report dealing with repairs costing $30,000 to $100,000. Insurers have written off some houses as total losses after only five years.

"The first EIFS home I looked at was a total loss," says Golden. "I think the insurance settlement was worth about $417,000."

"When I first heard about this last August I thought it was one bad applicator or builder," says Paul Wilms of the North Carolina HBA. "But that wasn't the case because some of the best builders in the area have problems. Then I hoped it was confined to one subdivision, but that wasn't true either. We're finding problems across the board."

As the experts work out the details, homeowners like Ruth Ann Southworth of Wilmington are left to worry about their investments. "After six months my house had minor moisture problems, which my builder repaired," she says.

"But the truth is, I couldn't give this house away now if I wanted to."

EIMA insists this is a local problem. "EIFS have been used successfully for decades in this country," says EIMA spokesman Keith Hayes. "This is a first. There are no other cities with comparable problems."

But as reports on the Carolina experience proliferate, calls are coming in from builders throughout the country on NAHB's HomeBase hot line, according to Research Center analyst Ed Hudson. "I've talked with hundreds of industry people," he says, "and problems are happening everywhere there's moisture and EIFS are being used, coast to coast."

Hudson also says he's heard from builders with moisture problems in dry climates like Austin, Texas.

What's the Problem?

Anyone who's ever tried tracing water leakage back to its source knows how hard it can be. Using electronic moisture meters, investigators report finding high meter readings some distance from the actual leak, as water breaches seals and travels away.

Some investigators are also pointing at windows -- especially wood ones --  as a possible source of water intrusion. Their theory: Even the small amount of moisture that gets in through gaps in window frames -- when trapped -- will do damage.

"Based on the local AIA chapter's testing," says Tom Kenney of the Research Center, "68 percent of the 205 houses they inspected had improper caulking details around windows."

But AIA tests also revealed that even where proper caulking details existed, 15 percent of the houses had high readings near windows, indicating window-frame leaks.

That may not matter in wall systems that can breathe, but EIFS walls are called barrier systems because the finish is impermeable. And if moisture gets into the wall system, it can't escape easily, especially if there's an interior vapor barrier.

So why Wilmington? Hudson speculates that the worst problems are occurring in active markets where the EIFS products are gaining popularity the fastest -- like the Carolinas.

He says problems appear to be rare in more established EIFS markets where applicators have experienced, and worked out, the problems.

But there is one building condition that may be contributing to the dilemma in Wilmington: state codes require interior polyethylene vapors. These aren't causing the trouble, but they may make things worse once water gets into the walls.

To test that theory, the Research Center computer-modeled EIFS wall sections with 50 percent moisture content.

"We looked at a full year's performance," says Kenney, "and the tests showed EIFS walls without vapor barriers dry out in five weeks, but the walls with vapor barriers take eight times as long." That makes it even more important to keep water out.

What's the Fix?

So how is all this likely to turn out? Look for changes in several areas.

Better details. Would you stake your reputation on a caulk joint? That's basically what EIFS detailing requires around windows and doors, and even some caulk joints installed to spec are failing.

Part of the problem, researchers say, may be that EIFS companies have adapted commercial details for residential installations. Look for companies to respond with new generations of details designed for home building. EIMA is revising its generic construction details publication.

Applicator training. To the extent that unskilled applicators caused some problems, applicator certification and training by manufacturers may not be stringent or broad enough. There are reports that applicators mixed components from different companies, which puts warranties at risk.

Also, applicators moving from dry regions (like California) to do work in moist climates (like the Pacific Northwest) may not be aware of moisture problems. Look for training and certification to improve, perhaps conducted by a third party like the NAHB Research Center.

Full accountability. The word from many of the builders and inspectors BUILDER talked to is that applicators aren't, but should be, responsible for the performance of the entire system: surfaces, caulking, flashings, and all.

EIFS contractors commonly come in after flashings are in place, and may not even do the caulking now.

Tougher warranties. Warranties serve two purposes: they cover repair costs for eligible claims, and they build buyer confidence in products. In this case it may prove easier to cover the claims than to rebuild confidence.

Technical warranty settlements will take a long time to resolve. EIMA is negotiating with builders and owners to solve the Wilmington problems. And homeowners filed class action lawsuits against manufacturers last December that will take time to settle.

But in many ways builders and owners are more worried about lost value than wet walls.

What do builders want? Besides taking care of damages, they want EIFS companies to give long-term, transferable, insured, total system performance warranties, says builder Dean Potter, who's also former president of the Wilmington/Cape Fear HBA.

"If you can't repair the value of the homes," he says, "it won't matter whether you come up with physical repairs."

The irony is that even as problems with EIFS persist, Wilmington builders would still like to use the product.

That's because they, and their buyers, like the systems' energy performance, architectural flexibility, and appearance.

And if they can improve the details, EIFS can even live up to its low-maintenance claims. "None of the builders I know wants to lose these products as options," says custom builder Steve Weiss of Wilmington.

"We want the industry to solve the problems. But until they do, I'll be very reluctant to use them."

                                            What Went Wrong in North Carolina

                                                Pending lawsuits pit EIFS manufacturers

                                             against disgruntled homeowners.

                                                                    By Don Best


In late 1994, building inspectors in the Wilmington-Wrights Beach area of North Carolina began investigating moisture-related problems in EIFS-clad homes. During the next year, the probe revealed that most of the area's 3,200 EIFS-clad homes were affected.

According to the Moisture Syndrome Task Force, commissioned by the North Carolina Department of Insurance Building Code Council, the problems stemmed from water leaking in behind the EIFS cladding and becoming trapped inside the walls, producing mildew and rot in the sheathing and framing around windows and doors.

Follow-up investigations by NAHB and EIMA confirmed that it wasn't the EIFS barrier that leaked, but improper seals around windows and doors, inadequate flashing at roof lines, dormers, decks and chimneys, and faulty window frames.

The problem was aggravated, investigators believe, because houses were fitted with poly vapor barriers -- a N.C. code requirement -- so trapped water had less chance to evaporate.

While the water damage to some N.C. houses was assessed in the tens of thousands of dollars, those appear to be exceptions. EIMA's inspection of 68 houses in late 1995 found that most could be repaired for less than $3,000.

Though some builders and EIFS manufacturers tried to resolve the problems out of court, a flurry of lawsuits resulted. Apart from several smaller cases, in which individual homeowners sued their builders and EIFS manufacturers, two class-action suits are pending.

In the first, called "Stucco Litigation", filed in a U.S. Federal Court in North Carolina, lawyers for the 15 homeowner-plaintiffs will try to prove that EIFS are "inherently" or "uniformly" flawed and that the problem is a national one. If Federal Judge Earl Britt, who will decide the case in early 1997, agrees, owners of EIFS-clad houses nationwide would be entitled to join the class-action suit.

Industry insiders estimate there are at least 260,000 EIFS-clad American homes.

The second class action-called "Ruff" after one of the homeowner-plaintiffs-is a state case.

The defendants in both cases, which include 15 EIFS manufacturers, will argue that the technology is sound, but that egregiously poor building practices in North Carolina led to failures.

The defense will likely point out that EIFS-clad walls penetrated by water can dry out, provided that windows, doors and other points where water is leaking into the wall cavity are properly flashed and sealed.

"There's a lot more at stake here than whether or not EIFS survives as a building alternative," says Tom Kenney, director of laboratory services at NAHB's Research Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. (Tom Kenney isn't related to consultant Russell Kenney.)

"If EIFS is tarred with the reputation that it can't work and inevitably leads to rot, property values are going to suffer all over the United States."

Builders already are feeling repercussions. "My insurance company says it won't insure my EIFS project here in Denver anymore," says Chuck Austin, who has built 50 EIFS-clad homes. "Unless our local home builders association can work this problem out, I'll have to look for an alternative cladding."

As EIFS manufacturers prepare their defense, they're modifying their products for North Carolina. The State Building Council ruled that beginning Jan. 1, 1997, all residential synthetic stucco systems construction must include drainage details so that any water penetrating the walls can escape.

(from BUILDING PRODUCTS magazine, Winter 1997)



                                                                    By Don Best

Synthetic stucco is popping up everywhere-- on malls and commercial plazas, hotels, theaters and high-rise apartments. It's increasingly showing up on American homes, too.

Since 1969, when exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) were introduced to the United States from Europe, the technology has blossomed into a thriving industry with about three dozen manufacturers and thousands of distributors and applicators.

And while EIFS (pronounced "eefs") only account for about 3.5 percent of the residential market, interest in the technology is swelling.

On the practical side, the system provides a durable, water-resistant cladding that also beefs up a wall's insulating power. On the aesthetic side, EIFS enable designers to employ a wide variety of architectural details and finishes that would be impossible or cost-prohibitive using conventional stucco, brick or stone. While fancy brick or stonework might cost $10 or more per square foot, EIFS is about $4 to $6 per square foot.

"EIFS gives us flexibility in design for a price that can't be assailed by any other product," says Wayne Foley of W.M. Foley Construction in Great Falls, Va.

But, despite its advantages, EIFS are far from perfect. The technology's long and generally successful track record is marred with enough failures to warrant caution.

Builders who embrace the technology without fully understanding it often come to regret it, as witnessed by the problems in North Carolina.

The key to a successful EIFS project, many say, is proper application. "The applicator is 90 percent of the job," says Robert Carpenter, president of Gibson-Lewis in Mishawaka, Ind., whose firm has been doing EIFS projects for 23 years. "Though installing EIFS is not rocket science, the builder must find someone with the training, experience and integrity to set that base coat properly."

What Is This Stuff, Anyway?

Unlike conventional stucco, which is a mixture of cement and sand, EIFS employs five distinct components:

an adhesive (or mechanical fasteners)

insulation board

a base coat made of polymer-modified cement

reinforcing fiberglass mesh

a durable finish coat.

Components of an Exterior Insulation and Finish System

1. Substrate

 2. Adhesive Attachment

 3. Reinforcing Mesh

 4, Insulation Board

 5. Base Coat (with Embedded

 Reinforcing Mesh)

 6. Finish Coat

The system can be applied to a variety of substrates, including concrete, masonry, plywood and oriented strand board, as long as the substrate is solid, straight, clean and dry.

An adhesive is used to glue a continuous layer of insulating panels to the substrate. The panels typically are 1-inch-thick expanded polystyrene (EPS), which boosts the wall's insulating value from about R-11 to R-16. Thicker insulation can be specced to achieve even higher R-values.

Reliefs and decorative moldings are cut out of insulation board and attached to the substrate. Computers can be employed to design and cut intricate motifs, moldings and gingerbread.

Manufacturers say the insulation eliminates the thermal breaks that occur in wood and steel framing, and sharply reduces air infiltration. Thus, EIFS-clad buildings require smaller heating and cooling systems, which are less expensive to install and operate.

After the insulation is in place, a polymer-based coating (base coat) is applied to the face of the insulation and is reinforced with fiberglass mesh. To prevent cracking, the mesh must overlap the seams in the insulation and be fully immersed in the base coat.

Most manufacturers specify extra mesh to reinforce the corners around windows, doors and reliefs, and in high-traffic areas.

The mesh and base coat must be properly back-wrapped where the system interfaces with windows, doors, eaves and other dissimilar materials. This process seals and protects the insulation edges and provides a solid surface to which the sealant can be applied.

Experienced EIFS applicators like Carpenter say that the best base coats have a higher ratio of polymers to cement, making them more flexible and resistant to cracking.

Applicator experience shows that the base coat, when properly applied, provides an effective barrier against water infiltration. Yet EIFS are vapor-permeable, so water vapor won't be trapped and condense inside the walls.

Once the base coat is applied, the system must be carefully sealed. Most EIFS failures aren't due to leaks in the cladding, but to windows, doors, eaves and other interfaces that aren't properly flashed and caulked, according to applicators. As a result, water leaks in behind the base coat.

To ensure proper sealing, the flashing should be completed prior to application of the base coat; the sealant is applied afterward.

John Harold, who's been building EIFS-clad homes in Pensacola, Fla., for 10 years, says he's never experienced a problem with his EIFS-clad homes, some of which are beachfront properties that have weathered the brunt of recent hurricanes.

"We've been diligent in flashing, backwrapping and sealing our systems the way the manufacturer specs them," says the former president of the Pensacola Home Builders Association.

"We buy the highest quality sealants our manufacturer recommends, and apply them where they're supposed to go."

Last But Not Least

The final EIFS component is the finish coat, an acrylic coating that may include aggregate, elastomeric polymer, silicone and/or mildewcide. Besides providing additional water protection, the finish coat gives the system its architectural appeal.

One reason EIFS are finding favor among builders and architects is that the finish coat can be tinted just about any color, eliminating the need for painting.

Depending upon the surface texture desired, the finish coat is either troweled or sprayed on. Some newer EIFS products-like Senergy's Aurora Stone, Parex's Cerastone and Dryvit's Ultra-Tex create the look of stone, brick or tile.

Because the finish coat has some capacity to flex as the walls moves, it's less likely to crack than conventional stucco. It isn't, however, maintenance-free, as some manufacturers claim.

Like any other cladding, EIFS need washing occasionally to remove built-up dirt, and should be inspected periodically to make sure that flashing and sealants haven't deteriorated.

EIFS typically come with five-year warranties on materials and labor, although some can be extended to 10 years. All warranties are conditional on the system being installed according to the manufacturer's specs.

Trouble Down South

Although the problems with EIFS-clad homes in North Carolina have been widely reported -- and sometimes exaggerated -- during the past year, all cladding, whether wood, brick, stone or vinyl, can fail, especially when it's poorly installed.

EIFS, of course, is no exception.

In the early '90s, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) experienced numerous problems with EIFS-clad buildings, mostly commercial and multifamily units financed with HUD loans.

Russell Kenney, director of testing at R.J. Kenney Associates in Plainville, Mass., examined more than a hundred troubled HUD buildings. Kenney concluded in 1992 that EIFS, "when properly detailed and applied, can provide durable cost-effective exterior walls with a service life of 20 to 30 years."

In the same report, however, he stressed the need for improved material and application standards, and the importance of having someone "knowledgeable" inspecting the work during installation.

Partly as a result of Kenney's work, manufacturers improved some application details. And BOCA now stipulates inspections, but only on EIFS projects over 10,000 square feet. That exempts most residential construction.

Now, Kenney is spending a lot of time in North Carolina, trying to find out why so many EIFS-clad houses there have problems and how to fix them.

"From what I've seen, I don't believe that EIFS is inherently defective or even as unforgiving as some people make it out to be," Kenney says. "In house after house we're finding windows and doors that were never caulked, faulty flashing details, and windows that don't comply with the building code. When builders cut corners like that, you're going to have lots and lots of failures."

This viewpoint is echoed by the EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA), which represents eight large manufacturers accounting for 90 percent of all U.S. EIFS sales, and several thousand distributors and contractors.

Doug Mault, executive director of EIMA, concedes North Carolina is in a category by itself.

"Nowhere else in the United States are we seeing problems that approach the situation in North Carolina, where we're finding clear and widespread evidence of poor building practices."

Both Kenney and Mault believe the hot pace of housing starts in the area, in part, overwhelmed builders' ability to maintain quality control and led to the hiring of unqualified applicators using non-code approved EIFS.

Onward and Upward

EIMA and the National Association of Home Builders are working together on new programs to train and certify EIFS applicators and to educate builders. Last summer, EIMA teamed up with the Tidewater (Va.) Builders Association to conduct the first of a series of national workshops for applicators, builders and county and state building officials.

"It's our responsibility to teach builders what constitutes quality installation and to promote communications between the key players," says Kent Stumpe, one of the key presenters at the Tidewater workshops.

Stumpe, who is national marketing manager for Senergy, a leading EIFS maker, says EIMA has a pre-job checklist, a job-in-process checklist and a post-job checklist that the builder and the applicator should sign off on.

"It assures that there will be good communications and clear lines of responsibility," he says.

The degree to which these educational efforts succeed and the outcome of the N.C. lawsuits may be the keys that determine the technology's future in residential construction.

In the meantime, builders should heed the voices of experience.

"I have used EIFS since 1970 and have found it to be an excellent product, as long as you keep a close eye on the applicator and don't take any short cuts," says custom builder Foley. -- Don Best is a Surry, N.H.-based freelance writer.

Most Common EIFS Trouble Spots and How to Check Chem Out
By Rick Schwolsky

Senior Editor, Building


Around Windows and Doors

EIFS check: Check that installers held the surface 3/8 to 1/2 inch back from the window or door. Make sure edges of foam board around openings were "buttered" (coated with EIFS finish). Make sure foam backer-rod was installed before caulk to give it correct shape, bond, and flexibility. Check caulk joints for continuity.

Moisture check: Look for moisture in wall and floor framing below windows.

At Roof and Wall Flashings

EIFS check: Inspect sidewall and roof flashings for proper placement and coverage. Design and install diverters ("kick-outs") on rake flashings where eaves of lower roof butts into sidewall.

Moisture check: Near roofs, look for moisture in areas that may come in contact with or impede water flow. Check near suspect flashings.

At Penetrations

EIFS check: Make sure installers sealed all penetrations (including deck ledgers, utilities and meters, electrical boxes, gutter components, and shutter fasteners). Maintain seals. Even if a penetration was caulked before fasteners were installed, caulk around components or fastener heads after installation for a secondary seal you can watch.

Moisture check: Look for high readings near penetrations, but also follow likely travel paths away from penetrations.

Next to Architectural Details

EIFS check: Be wary of transitions between different exterior materials like EIFS and wood siding). Flashing and caulking must be reliable in these locations.

Moisture check: Test for moisture content and possible damage both at the site and in the wider area around siding transitions.