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  • North Carolina EIFS problem: moisture damages and problems for buildings
  • EIFS damage
  • EIFS

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  • B.C. moisture problems - phase II

  • Essay:

    North Carolina EIFS problem

    NRC/IRC involvement: [Jan/02]

    Some cross section Analysis: 'Jan-02

    ------------- a survey

    Jay Graham, "Stucco Litigation - A Complete Perspective", North Carolina Bar Foundation Continuing Legal Education (CLE), 17 April, 1998, Greensboro, North Carolina

    When trouble first surfaced in Wilmington in 1995, EIMA rushed in to "investigate". They initially blamed the weather, claiming that an unusually active 1994 / 1995 hurricane season, with 4 hurricanes coming ashore in the N.C. / S.C. region combined with normal coastal conditions, explained the high moisture levels found in the homes. Dryvit still makes this claim. They also claimed that, because the problems were due to a freaky weather scenario, it was very unlikely that there were similar problems elsewhere.

    After more investigation was done in the area, including comparative moisture readings of EIFS vs. other cladding systems, the story was immediately changed. The culprit was no longer the weather. It was the poor building practices, lax building codes and code enforcement and fly-by-night applicators working out of the "trunks of their cars". EIMA went so far as to take out full-page newspaper ads blaming the builders in the area and claiming "like everything else, there is a right way to do things and a wrong way". This is the story that EIMA got out to the rest of the country. EIMA ignored the fact that the homes that were inspected by the New Hanover County Department of Inspections were built by a mix of 19 builders and the EIFS on these homes were applied by 11 different applicators.

    Likewise ignored, and to this day totally denied by EIMA, was the fact that in-depth investigations were done that compared EIFS and non-EIFS structures built by the same contractors in the same subdivisions that showed moisture levels in EIFS some 10 times more prevalent than in other cladding systems. [Jan'02'


    The more detailed description of history and issure: can be found at [Jan'02]

    The first known mass problems with EIFS occurred in 1994. In response to numerous homeowner complaints of water damage and structural damage in New Hanover County, North Carolina, the first "formal" inspection occurred in November 1994. The house had synthetic stucco siding and shortly thereafter (July/August 1995) thirty-one EIFS sided houses were inspected. All of them had problems. The houses were in four subdivisions involving various contractors and various EIFS products.

    As the local inspection department discovered more incidents of problems, it enlisted help from local builders that used EIFS and EIFS contractors. Several builders from the area provided sites that were determined to have elevated moisture problems within the walls. The National Association of Homebuilders was also contacted to secure assistance in identifying causes of moisture accumulation and to determine whether it was a common problem or specific to the area alone.

    In August 1995, the Inspection Department arranged to tour eight houses (in the North Carolina area) for inspection by several builders and staff from the NAHB research center.

    Several houses had sections of wall sheeting removed to allow inspection of structural damage and construction details. Other houses were inspected from either exterior or crawl spaces using moisture meters. The American Institute of Architects also became involved in a survey of 209 EIFS houses. This led to the formation of a Moisture Syndrome Task Force under the guidance of the North Carolina Department of Insurance Building Code Council. The Council became involved in reviewing recently built houses (under six years of age) which were experiencing structural damage due to excessive moisture buildup in the walls.

    Ninety percent of the houses were found to have moisture content levels above the acceptable limit of 19%. These houses were located in sixteen different subdivisions built by nineteen different builders, with EIFS applied by ten different applicators, and supplied by twelve different EIFS manufacturers. The state indicated that the cause of moisture accumulation was running water intrusion from a combination of factors including: improper sealing of joints around windows, doors, and other penetrations; improperly sloped horizontal EIFS surfaces; inadequate flashings at roof lines, dormers, decks, fireplace chases, etc.; and window frames that leaked into wall cavities. Further, the New Hanover County Building Inspector's office reported to the municipality that nearly all of the 3,200 EIFS houses might have moisture damage inside the area of the exterior walls. An additional follow-up study was done which indicated the inspectors found moisture problems in 98% of three hundred randomly selected EIFS houses in Wilmington, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Fayetteville, and the Outer Banks.

    The problems are not isolated to North Carolina and Virginia alone. In fact, in response to the North Carolina crisis, the USG Corporation Research Center contracted with the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) to investigate the reasons behind the New Hanover County performance problems. NRCC, based in Ottawa, Canada, is an internationally recognized research laboratory with specific expertise in the performance of building envelopes. U.S. Gypsum also conducted detailed field quality-investigations of thirty houses built using USG EIFS. As a result of these research efforts, U.S. Gypsum decided to stop manufacturing barrier-type EIFS, effective April 8, 1996.

    Further, the July 28, 1997 edition of the Nations Home Building News reported that NAHB members were being warned nationwide to exercise caution before deciding to use EIFS. Ray Kothe, a builder from Florida and chairman of NAHB's EIFS Task Force stated "we know that EIFS failures are not limited to the Southeast. Builders in other parts of the country with otherwise excellent records for quality in construction have experienced problems with homes they have built with EIFS."

    CRDBER, at CBS, BCEE, ENCS, Concordia,