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wordsmith

01:18PM | 09/11/04
Member Since: 09/10/04
2 lifetime posts
Bvmisc
We live in Central Florida which, as most of you know, has been hit with two hurricanes in the past month (with a third, Ivan, yet to be heard from). Our community is quite new, with the oldest of the homes being perhaps 3-4 years old and the newest just being occupied. The predominant construction method here is concrete block covered with a cementeous coating (what most people still call "stucco," I'm told).

Hurricane Charley was fast moving with high winds and it passed east of here, causing us little drama. Hurricane Frances was larger, more slow moving, and it drenched us for parts of three days. After it passed, some of our neighbors discovered significant amounts of standing water inside the base of their eastern walls. We found only signs of darker grout in out tile floors along the baseboards (not even what you would call "damp") but others had wet carpets and or standing water. Some reported their damage in their garages, where you could see the wet "stair-stepping" along the grout lines of the concrete blocks.

Separately, there are some homeowners here who reported early on to the builder that they were experiencing leaks, either from heavy rains directly on the walls or past the windows or from seepage at the slab when the swales between the houses was not enough to carry away a downpour. Reportedly, the builder either sealed the houses and repainted them or simply repainted them (effectively sealing the smaller cracks)...and none of them have reported the problem since then.

The questions, of course, all revolve around: was this storm so abnormal that no stucco or block wall could be expected to not pass some water? Or should the builder, having more or less acknowledged the problem by repainting the early homes, have sealed them all as they were being built? Or is this really a cost for the homeowner to bear? Our collective experience is that hairline cracks simply will appear in the stucco (and usually at the grout lines of the blocks). Those who seal these and simply repaint (not even with elastomeric paint) seem to have no problems.

But even if hurricanes are not a common experience here, drenching thunderstorms are. Is there a reasonable expectation to having a house that will stand up to rain?You'll probably understand that those who have experienced the most leakage are those who are most vocal in accusing the builder of sloppy workmanship and taking the cheap way out.

I'm wide open to whatever thoughts, reactions and doses of reality you want to send my way.


tomh

08:02AM | 09/12/04
Member Since: 07/01/03
550 lifetime posts
Wordsmith, your eloquent question certainly suggests you make you living with the written word. The answer is fairly simple. Masonry of all types are not impervious to water. On vertical surfaces, stucco does not pass a great deal of water, but if it was horizontal, much of the water landing on it would pass through the pores of the cement material. Think of the sustained tropical storm force winds as having the same effect as turning your house on its side. The driving rain over a sustained period of time would eventually pass through the entire profile causing the problems you note. Stucco should be applied to a wall that has been prepared by hanging a weather barrier (felt or tyvek) overlaid with wire lath and finished with scratch and finish coats. This layered approach is still slowly permeable. But that is the standard, and its hard to complain if its been built that way.

Paint and elastomeric coatings prevent initial penetration of water on masonry surfaces. Many stucco homes are painted with latex acrylic paints, and are therefore more waterproof. Paint has its maintenance issues, but is fairly stable on stucco surfaces. Concrete stucco has been used successfully in your area for a long time without widespread problems, but the unusual and sustained weather events have taken a toll recently. This too will dry.

Note that some homes are built with synthetic stucco (dryvit) and moisture penetration of this material is destructive to the siding and underlying frame.

wordsmith

11:50AM | 09/12/04
Member Since: 09/10/04
2 lifetime posts
>> Stucco should be applied to a wall that has been prepared by hanging a weather barrier (felt or tyvek) overlaid with wire lath and finished with scratch and finish coats. This layered approach is still slowly permeable. But that is the standard, and its hard to complain if its been built that way.

Thanks very much for the reply, Tom.

Problem is, the way you've described is not how it's done here. Your description sounds like the way I remember stucco being handled on houses where I grew up (CA in the '50s and '60s), which were frame construction. Here, the norm is block (in just about every price category). The only time you have a frame exterior wall is when the wall sits over an exterior patio slab (think subterranean termites). With that kind of wall, yes, you get a wrap and a wire lath. But on the block walls, you just get the "cementeous coating" skimmed on.

Does that change the picture any?

carlbrown

01:52PM | 01/26/05
Member Since: 01/05/05
83 lifetime posts
Tom h is right. The windows should have a caulk joint and backer rod around them to. The whole structure should have 2 layers of moisture barrier. Not just one. With 2 layers you have a bond breaker. That lets the water out. The best one I have seen and used is Greeguard Rain Drop by pactiv. It has webing when applied corectly it channels the water right out the bottom. I have a web site called www.badstucco.com The problems do not just exist in florida. All the pictures on the web site were taken in the kansas city metro. There you will also find a link to pactiv.I can be reached at the number on the web site Toll free for you!
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