EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finishing System) can be a source of problems for a Lehigh Valley Home Buyer or Seller.
Known as synthetic stucco, EIFS was originally used in Europe after World War II to assist in the reconstruction. It was applied on stone, brick, and concrete buildings.
When introduced to Residential Homes in the 1980's, problems started to appear with EIFS because it was being applied over wood. Water Penetration may occur between the EIFS and the plywood sheething, framing, or footer of the house. The water gets trapped; starts decaying the wood; and may eventually reach and cause damage to the interior of the home.
Here is a typical wall section of a home with EIFS.
A problem with EIFS can go on for a long time before any noticable signs occur. By then, it is possible that thousands of dollars worth of damage has occured behind the walls.
Weak points with EIFS occur at junction points such as windows, soffits, door frames, and areas where rain gutter discharge isn't correctly diverted.
The Exterior of the home may indicate a moisture problem with staining on some sections. Other times, there may not be any indication at all.
Just because a home has EIFS doesn't mean there are definitely problems. It depends on how it was installed and maintained. Newer methods include a drainage system.
A common test done to ensure the integrity of the exterior is a Moisture Intrusion Analysis.
Lehigh Valley Moisture Intrusion Analysis
As a Home Buyer, one of the ways you can protect yourself when purchasing a home with EIFS is to have a Moisture Check done on the home.
A certified inspector will "probe" the EIFS at different areas of the exterior to get moisture readings.
Here is a partial example of a test. The labeled areas on the house were checked for moisture penetration.
This Report is showing a possible problem around the bottom of the 2nd floor window.
In addition, you can see staining between points 23 (39.4% Moisture) and 22 (27.2% Moisture). The water from the roof was discharging against the wall and caused a problem. Wood rot was found inside the basement of the home at point 22.
At this point, a contractor should be called in to determine the extent of any damage and determine a price to correctly fix the problem.
The Pennsylvania Property Disclosure has a section on Structural Items and one of the questions that a Lehigh Valley Home Seller has to answer is whether the house has EIFS. If the home seller knows, they are supposed to disclose it so the Buyer is aware that there might be a problem.
The home may be perfectly fine but some of the past problems with EIFS make it a questionable item that could run into thousands of dollars to correctly repair.
More information about EIFS can be found on About.com.
Joe Finnerty and Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc are not held liable for any content on this page. It is intended for general information. A qualified EIFS inspector or contractor should be consulted.