Common Building Defects and Construction Issues Contributing to EIFS Problems

Unfortunately, many Atlanta homes using EIFS were not well designed and well constructed. Furthermore, when many homeowners first identified the resulting construction defects, either their builder warranty had expired or their builder was unavailable. Some previously accepted building practices are now known to cause problems. While many construction defects and building practices contribute to EIFS problems, a few seem to be more common than others.

Missing flashing at the roof-vertical wall joint. During original construction, some builders fail to install step and kick-out flashing along the roof-vertical wall joint. In a properly constructed house, as rain falls onto the roof and runs along an EIFS-clad exterior wall, the step flashing keeps the water from penetrating the joint. At the eave, the kick-out flashing then diverts the water away from the wall and into the gutter. Without such flashing, moisture is readily trapped behind the EIFS and damages the home. To prevent further damage, the correct flashing must be installed.

Deck-house joints. Some builders attach decks after the house is nearly complete and after the EIFS is installed. Often, the deck crew anchors the deck to the frame of the house by drilling holes through the EIFS. Large bolts are installed through the band board and through the deck. Then the bolts are tightened, pulling the deck to the house. In many cases, this process leaves either cracks or holes in the EIFS where water enters the wall, thus creating damage. Special flashing can prevent this problem. However, many builders do not install it.

Lack of caulk at dissimilar junctions and penetrations. A dissimilar junction is any place where a non-EIFS material, such as wood, touches the EIFS. Penetrations of the EIFS occur at areas such as window openings and light fixtures. When such junctions and penetrations are not properly caulked, a gap allows water behind the EIFS. Temperature fluctuations exacerbate the problem, as dissimilar materials contract and expand at varying rates.

EIFS extending to the ground. Historically, extending EIFS all the way to the ground was a generally accepted building practice. However, Georgia building codes were changed in 1997. The new codes require the builder to leave a six-inch gap between the EIFS or other foam insulation board and the ground. The gap is intended to prevent termites from finding an easy pathway into the home and to allow for easy inspection for termite companies. Currently, some termite companies will not put an EIFS-clad home under contract unless it has the six-inch gap. Stucco repair contractors can terminate EIFS that extends below the acceptable grade. The EIFS is cut and trimmed, then sealed to the foundation.