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Stucco Maintenance – 5 Things Homeowners Miss When They Don’t Inspect Their Stucco

Stucco Charleston SC is an enduring and beautiful building material, but it requires regular maintenance. Failure to inspect and clean stucco can lead to extensive damage. Leaving hairline cracks untreated is an easy mistake to make. These minor imperfections will widen if left for too long and create crevices where mold and mildew can grow.

Cracks and Chips

stucco

Stucco cracks are a natural part of the life cycle for most homes that have stucco as an exterior covering. Some cracks are more serious than others and may indicate a structural problem that needs to be addressed right away. If a homeowner notices large cracking of the stucco it is important to have an engineer inspect the home to determine the cause. Depending on the cause the engineer may recommend that the home owner hire an experienced contractor to perform remedial work as needed.

Most cracks are a result of contraction and expansion that occurs as the stucco cures. The most common area for these small cracks are at the corners of doors and windows. Typically, these small cracks aren’t serious and can be repaired with caulking.

If a crack is deeper than 1/16 of an inch it is a sign that the cracking is caused by a structural issue and should be remedied. This cracking can allow water to seep into the wall, which leads to wood rot, mold and swollen drywall.

In order to repair these larger cracks, the first step is to clean and prepare the area for a new coat of stucco. The best way to do this is to use a wire brush to remove any debris and dust. Once the area is clean and free of debris it can be patched with a quality elastomeric caulking. This product will be able to expand and contract with the changes in temperature without developing additional cracks.

When using a caulking to fix these cracks it is important to make sure the product used is compatible with stucco. There are many commercial products that are formulated to be used with stucco and will not only fill the crack but also adhere to it. Some of these include Quikrete’s textured caulking for stucco (view on Amazon). This particular product is designed to be painted and is a great solution for fixing these types of cracks in stucco. It is recommended that the cracks are undercut with a cold chisel before applying the new coating.

Interior Leaks

Stucco leaks are a serious problem that can cause mold, wood rot, soak the insulation and result in structural damage. Stucco is vulnerable to water penetration and moisture intrusion in 5 main places that homeowners often miss when they do a quick stucco inspection. These are the places that if left unchecked can lead to costly repairs later.

1. Moisture around windows.

If the stucco is wet a week after it rains, or there are spots on the wall that always look damp, this could be an indicator of leaking from the inside out. This is particularly important in areas around doors and windows, where the water may accumulate and damage the surrounding drywall.

2. Leaks at the bottom of the wall.

The bottom of the wall is another common area for leaks in a stucco system. The leaking water can run down behind the stucco, where it is likely to be hidden from view. In this case, it is important to have a professional perform a full inspection and run moisture tests on the building to determine what is causing the leak and how it can be fixed.

3. Unsealed wall penetrations.

Small holes in the stucco wall, such as those for hose faucets or wall-mount light fixtures, should be sealed with caulk to prevent water intrusion. This is especially important in areas with exposed plumbing and air conditioning ducts, where the walls are more prone to corrosion from exposure.

4. Cracks, bubbling and flaking near window frames.

It’s very common to find a cracked or chipped stucco surface adjacent to a window. These are the most common location for water penetration and should be checked regularly. If the problem is caught early, it can be repaired with a minimal amount of damage to the surrounding area.

Stains

Whether it’s caused by water infiltration, algae growth or stains from pollutants, unsightly discoloration in your stucco is not only unattractive but can also cause serious structural problems. It’s important to inspect your stucco regularly for cracks, chips and stains so that they can be repaired or addressed as soon as possible.

Stains are one of the most common reasons for a homeowner to call in a professional for stucco repairs. Depending on the type of stain, it can be difficult to remove and may require additional repairs. For example, black stains on your stucco could be the result of a buildup of dead dark-colored cells from the hardy algae Gloeocapsa magma which feeds on the calcium carbonate in an unpainted stucco mixture. This type of stain can be removed using a solution made with oxygen bleach powder and water in a hand-pump garden sprayer. This should be saturated on the surface and scrubbed with a soft brush before rinsing it off with clear water from your garden hose.

Mildew and mold stains, which can be dark green or black in color, are another type of stain that commonly occurs on stucco surfaces. These stains can result from excessive moisture and humidity in the environment, which encourages the growth of these organisms. If left untreated, mildew and mold can eat away at the surface of your stucco and lead to further damage and costly repairs.

Other common stains on stucco include dirt, soot and grease stains. Dirt and soot stains can often be removed by pressure washing, while grease stains may need to be removed by hand. It’s important to inspect the entire surface of your stucco before attempting to clean it, as cracks and crevices in the stucco can allow water to enter which will lead to further damage and cost.

If you notice any hairline cracks or chips in your stucco, they should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent water from entering the cracks and causing further damage. Small cracks can be fixed with exterior acrylic caulking that matches your stucco’s finish to seal the surface and protect it against moisture. If you see any other areas of damage, such as large cracks or gaps, it is best to contact a professional for an inspection and repair.

Remediation

Stucco remediation is a process that fixes the underlying issues that cause water damage in your stucco wall system. Remediation involves removing your existing stucco, and then replastering the walls with a new, quality stucco product. It’s an in-depth process that takes a bit longer than a repair, and it typically costs more. However, it can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs to your home.

If you notice signs of moisture penetration in your stucco, it’s best to act as soon as possible. Moisture that’s ignored for too long can lead to rot and mold damage to the structure of your house, which is expensive to fix. Additionally, it can cause health and safety problems for your family and guests.

The first step in determining whether your stucco needs remediation is to have a professional inspection of the area. Look for areas of discoloration or deterioration, particularly around windows. Also check for moisture intrusion, which can be detected with moisture meters and borescopes.

Once an inspection is completed, your contractor will decide if you need repairs or remediation. If there are only minor cracks and no rot or mold, repairs may be enough. However, if the cracks are wide or there’s evidence of rot or fungus, remediation is necessary to ensure the stability of your stucco and prevent further damage to your home.

When choosing between remediation and repairs, keep in mind that the cost of repair is much less than a complete replacement of your stucco. Even if your stucco isn’t looking as nice as it once was, you can still keep it in good shape by doing maintenance on a regular basis. This includes cleaning the stucco walls with a hose sprayer, scrubbing dirt or stains off the surface, and pointing sprinklers and downspouts away from the building’s foundation.

It’s also important to have your property regularly inspected for grading, landscaping, and downspouts that are directing moisture away from the stucco. Moisture that gets trapped in the cracks of your stucco can be hard to remove, so preventing moisture penetration at the source is key.