Stucco has been a popular exterior cladding choice for many homes in the Philadelphia area. When properly installed and maintained, it can last for decades, providing weather resistance and aesthetic appeal.
However, improper installation or lack of regular maintenance can lead to moisture issues that often go undetected until severe damage has occurred.
As the climate in Philadelphia sees significant variations in temperature and precipitation throughout the year, hidden defects in stucco systems are not uncommon. Getting your stucco inspected periodically is essential for catching any problems early before they escalate.
This article provides five easy tips for homeowners to focus on during a stucco inspection in Philadelphia.
Necessity of Stucco Inspection
A thorough stucco inspection Philadelphia provides valuable transparency into the current condition and state of repair of a home’s exterior walls.
Rather than leaving homeowners in the dark about any emerging problems or repair needs, these detailed inspections pinpoint exactly where there may be small cracks, blemishes, delamination, or other defects that require attention.
Catching such flaws while still in the early stages prevents further moisture intrusion behind the stucco from exacerbating the problems.
This crucial early detection and response means less repair costs and prevents the need for much more extensive or more invasive renovations later on if a homeowner neglects maintenance.
The five tips discussed here will assist in properly caring for and protecting the stucco exterior finish from the elements Philadelphia is consistently known for. Understanding how to inspect a stucco home properly lays the foundation for ongoing exterior maintenance for years to come.
1. Start with a Visual Exam
Your stucco inspection should always begin with a visual survey from the ground up. This allows observing the entire surface of the home’s exterior walls under natural lighting conditions to spot anything suspicious.
Include examining the stucco from top to bottom and side to side, checking for cracks, holes, uneven textures, odd bulges or depressions in the material, and discoloration that may indicate moisture penetration behind the stucco.
Pay close attention to projecting elements like windows, where foundations meet the walls, chimneys, and other areas more prone to wear and tear from water runoff or roof overhang contact issues.
Note any zones that appear softened, blistered, pulled away from the material below, or missing pieces so they can be remediated promptly. Catching problems in the earliest visual stages means they often only require low-cost patching versus replacing whole wall areas as issues worsen.
2. Check for Moisture Intrusion
To gauge moisture content:
- Use a reliable moisture meter designed for building materials.
- Test various spots on each wall plane and record readings.
- Focus on vulnerable locations, that is, within 12 inches of grade, within 4 feet of roof edges, around Windows, and penetrations.
- Check interior sheathing if accessible.
- Hover the meter just above the stucco to detect moisture beneath without puncturing.
Standard readings fall between 12-20%, but Philadelphia’s wet environment elevates this slightly. Numbers consistently over 25% suggest a moisture issue is developing, warranting follow-up. Pinpoint wet sections to address pronto before moisture spreads and multiply repair costs down the road. Early red flags here could save you from costly damages in the future.
3. Perform a Tap Test
Use a rubber mallet or the back of a non-marring tool to gently tap various stucco locations, listening closely with your ear near the source. Perform this methodically over entire wall areas, tuning in differences in resonance.
Homogenous tones indicate intact, securely bonded surfaces, while hollow, mixed, or brittle sounds may signify damage behind them.
Percussively test around fixtures, anchors, and seams first; pinpointing inconsistencies deserves extra attention. Note all discrepancies by the wall in your inspection for a professional consult.
Although rough, this affordable, quick check provides valuable clues about subsurface conditions invisible to eyes alone.
4. Inspect Flashing and Caulk
Evaluate all windows, doors, and penetrations closely, checking the water tightness of flashings. Ensure material extends past the stucco on sheathing and up vertical surfaces. Inspect seals for cracks, holes, or bubbling, which allow water intrusion behind walls.
Check caulk joints thoroughly, looking for any breach in the barrier at abutting materials. Test caulk adhesion by pressing with a tool, noting any areas with loss of bond. Schedule replacement of compromised flashings and caulk promptly.
Repair costs multiply once leaks are established in walls. So, vigilance pays off, preventing extensive damages down the line.
5. Consult a Professional Inspector
Take advantage of specialist consultation for their experience and advanced tools. A certified pro can identify issues invisible even to trained homeowner eyes. They employ moisture mapping, infrared cameras, and diagnostic hardware to detect problems at the earliest stages.
Professionals understand Philadelphia’s unique weather patterns and how they impact building enclosures over the long haul. Rely on their laboratory analyses, written evaluative reports, and tailored remediation recommendations.
Professional guidance results in timely, appropriate resolutions, keeping future repairs minimal and manageable.
Their expertise often delivers returns over initial consultation investment in ultimate stucco protection and home preservation for lifetime enjoyment.
Implementing these easy visual and non-destructive testing tips empowers homeowners to care for their stucco finishes proactively. Identifying problems promptly means lower repair bills versus neglecting maintenance.
If utilizing this exterior cladding material, routine stucco inspections should be part of your regular home care regimen. Detecting small cracks or blemishes prevents more extensive, expensive replacements in Philadelphia’s variable climate. Staying vigilant protects both your home’s integrity and investment through the years.