Warning signs of stucco failure
There are a number of warning signs that can indicate stucco failure. If you notice any of the following common stucco problems with your home, you should call a stucco contractor immediately.
Lasting water spots, staining, and discoloration
While stucco is designed to naturally retain some moisture, lasting water spots on the exterior of your stucco home can indicate serious problems. Stucco water spots, commonly referred to as staining, can be seen as either white hazy streaks or as dark blotches in the color. When left untreated, trapped moisture can lead to the formation of black mold, rotting wood, and the compromisation of your home’s structural integrity. Often times this is caused by poorly installed, or flat out missing, flashing.
As a homeowner, you should pay close attention to the areas around your doors and windows. They are typically the most common problem areas for stucco homes. However, staining can appear anywhere. While lasting water spots don’t always indicate problems with your stucco, it’s in your best interest to call a professional when you notice one on your home.
Cracking in your stucco
Stucco homes can develop cracks overtime for a myriad of reasons. Shifting land, the wrong mixing proportions, and poor workmanship are a few possible causes for your home to develop cracks. Not only does this look bad, but cracks going deeper than surface level can lead to significant issues for your home.
Unfortunately, cracking isn’t a singular issue. More often than not, stucco cracking will spread as the house foundation settles. Cracks smaller than 1/16 of an inch are common and typically aren’t a cause for major concern, assuming you address them in a timely manner. However, larger cracks can result in water being trapped and leading to issues like those mentioned above. While you may be tempted to simply repair the cracks, all that really does is provide a temporary solution. If the cracks are deep enough, there’s a good chance water’s already seeped through.
Extending below grade
This has less to do with the actual stucco and more to do with improper building practices. Stucco that extends below grade can cause significant issues for your home. When we say “below the grade” we are referring to stucco being applied below where the home’s foundation meets the ground. There needs to be at least two inches of clearance to allow the stucco to properly drain. When a home’s stucco doesn’t have the necessary space or is below the grade, it can trap water and moisture leading to the formation of mold, rotting, cracking, and crumbling. Additionally, the stucco will begin to soak up even more moisture from the ground.
Unfortunately, unless you’re a stickler for details or a home inspector, you likely would have no reason to check your home for this. Unlicensed contractors and shoddy building practices have plagued Southeastern Pennsylvania for years. If you have concerns that your home’s stucco is below grade, it’s best to contact a professional immediately.
Caulking and other waterproofing sealants
Caulk is a material used to seal joints, seams, and cracks against leakage. It’s commonly found along the trim of your home’s doors and windows. When caulking becomes dried, shrunken, or appears to be missing altogether, your home can become susceptible to water intrusion, leading to many of the issues previously mentioned.
Doors and windows aren’t the only areas you need to be aware of though. Many stucco homeowners will experience issues around exterior fixtures such as lighting, decks, and other objects protruding from a home. It’s important for homeowners to monitor these areas to ensure that sealants are in good condition to protect from the outside elements.