Exterior insulation and finishing system (EIFS), also known as synthetic stucco, is a low-maintenance material; however, it’s crucial to make sure your EIFS doesn’t have any holes that are allowing moisture to enter your house. Once moisture gets trapped behind the EIFS, it can get stuck there. And trapped moisture leads to rot and mold in your house.
Note: You may need to use a ladder to inspect some areas of your stucco. Always observe proper ladder safety if you do this.
Confirm the material. Before you inspect your EIFS, you should make sure that’s actually the material on your house. This is easy. Just knock on it with your hand. If it sounds hollow, you have EIFS. If it’s solid all the way through, you have regular stucco.
It’s important to keep close tabs on your EIFS because one small crack or hole can let in a lot of moisture. Once moisture gets in, it will stay there and cause all kinds of structural damage such as rot and mold. Try to visually inspect the EIFS for damage at least once a year and after any particularly severe wind or thunderstorm that may have sent debris flying into your siding.
Inspect your caulk joints annually. Any area where your EIFS meets another building material (window sill, brick, vinyl, etc.) is particularly vulnerable to moisture and will generally have a layer of caulk between it (this area is called a caulk joint). Check these areas carefully once a year and make sure there are no holes, cracks or other signs of deterioration in the caulk. If you find any damage, you can either repair the caulk yourself or hire a handyman to tackle the job.
Avoid creating holes in your EIFS. Any hole in the siding, whether it’s a small screw to hold a bird feeder or an entire hose spigot installation, can potentially allow moisture to enter the foundation of your house. If you can avoid it, don’t puncture your EIFS. If you absolutely must install something in the siding, be sure to seal the area around the puncture with caulk afterwards.
Deal with moisture immediately. If you find large holes in your EIFS, it can be very difficult to know if, and how much, moisture has gotten into the wall cavity of your house (even if you have an EIFS draining system installed). To be safe, the best thing to do is contact a qualified EIFS inspector to drill a pilot hole from inside your house and visually check for problems. Once moisture has gotten into your house, it will run wild, so it’s worth the effort to be sure there isn’t an issue.