Stucco Inspection Overview

We can perform invasive moisture testing on stucco as well as stone and brick veneer.

The stucco inspection consists of observational findings combined with moisture readings taken by drilling into the stucco and inserting a moisture probe to determine if moisture is present behind the stucco.  We also check the installation materials and method by taking a small core sample.  All drill holes and core samples are repaired with high quality sealant that is chosen to match the color of the stucco as closely as possible.

We inspect the cladding system thoroughly.  First we record what can be visually observed in detailed notes that can easily be used to correct any issues. We can also make recommendations of specific solutions, if appropriate.  We sometimes use a high-quality thermal imaging camera in addition to the observations the inspector makes visually.

Visually we look for signs of:

  • Efflorescence on surface
  • Mold on surface
  • Mildew on surface
  • Staining on surface
  • Physical damage
  • Cracking
  • Manufacturer and/or stucco industry standard installation
  • Proper termination at grade and on roof areas
  • Presence of proper weep screed
  • Weep ropes or vents and properly integrated flashing
  • Presence of proper kickout flashing
  • Window and door flashing
  • Proper slope and flashing of concrete sills at stucco transitions and/or stucco sills
  • Installation of appropriate backer rod and sealant
  • Presence of proper control joints and expansion joints where appropriate
  • Installation of appropriate backer rod and sealant
  • Presence of proper control joints and expansion joints where appropriate
After documenting any issues found during the visual observational portion, we perform invasive testing.  This includes moisture readings using a probe and when needed a 1 to 1 1/4″ core sample.  The moisture readings in our Stucco Inspections often can determine if there is a damaged substrate behind the stucco when readings are high. When moisture readings are elevated, depending on the areas affected, we can recommend solutions in our Stucco Inspection report that is delivered to you. These moisture readings will be included in our report.


Why do we need to drill or take a core sample?

To Obtain Moisture Readings in highly questionable areas that cannot be detected by any other means or technology. Because of the nature of the components utilized in stucco systems, such as metal lath and Portland cement, the Thermal Detectors (surface scanner), which is commonly used to detect moisture behind EIFS, cannot be effectively utilized; therefore detection of moisture intrusion in utilizing this protocol can only be conducted through the use of a penetrating probe meter.

The Process

Probe readings will be performed at the discretion of the survey professional, and should be focused on all areas of potential moisture penetration based on the previously outlined visual inspection. These areas shall include, but not be limited to, locations beneath corners and mullions of windows, beneath doors, at least two locations beneath missing or defective kick-out flashing, and below deck/balcony ledgers (primarily beneath corners of patio or service doors). Moisture probing shall be conducted as follows. Two probe holes will be drilled through an appropriate mortar joint location with a 1/4” masonry bit, holes will be approximately 1” apart. Insulated probes will be inserted through the holes until contact is made with the underlying sub-sheathing behind the weather resistant barrier. Inspector will assure that the probes are not in contact with metal lath to avoid obtaining a “false positive” reading.

In most cases moisture readings are recorded in wood scale as determined by the substrate material being tested. If it is determined that the substrate is a product other than wood-based moisture testing will be adjusted accordingly. Wood scale moisture readings should be should be interpreted as follows:

High Readings

In all areas where moisture readings are high, consideration should be given to the removal of the stucco system to allow the assessment and repair of the damaged substrate and affected structural members. Data has shown that when moisture levels are above 29%, there is frequently damaged substrate, if not at the exact probe location, in the adjacent sheathing and/or framing. It is believed that most damage can be repaired, and proper remediation with ongoing maintenance should prevent future moisture intrusion. Occasionally moisture readings will indicate “acceptable” levels, however, upon probing; the substrate is soft or will offer little or no resistance. This may be an indication of “dry rot”, a condition that can occur when wood is exposed to excessive moisture over an extended period and the wood fibers have decayed to the point that the wood can no longer hold moisture. When this condition is discovered the stucco system should be removed to allow the inspection and repair of the damaged substrate and affected structural members.

Average Readings

In areas of the system where moisture readings are considered average and probing has indicated that the substrate was in sound condition, although some moisture penetration has occurred, it is believed that through proper remediation, containment and isolation of points of moisture entry, would allow the previous effects of moisture to dry, producing no negative impact to the structure.

Low Readings

Areas of the system where moisture readings are low or where readings are not recorded should be acceptable. All penetrations made by the survey professional to facilitate moisture readings will be sealed using an approved sealant that conforms to ASTM C-920. The survey professional will attempt to match the color of the caulk used with the color of the stucco wall.

Upon completion of the inspection, all data compiled will be evaluated and transposed into a report that will detail an evaluation of any problems observed as related to the overall performance of the stucco system. This report will include, but not be limited to:

  • Narrative report with description of problem and, if appropriate, recommended solutions
  • Photo Log
  • Location photos, overlaid with moisture readings.

It should be noted these inspection protocols when combined, are designed to completely and accurately determine the condition of the stucco system. In our opinion, anything less will not give an accurate or reliable overview of the condition of the stucco system.