Non Invasive Stucco Inspection in Berwyn, PA and all of PA, NJ and DE

What is a Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection?

A non invasive inspection starts with a visual inspection of the stucco system.  The inspector will look for cracking, missing flashings, missing sealants and obvious damage.  They will then use an infrared camera to scan the exterior of the stucco system.  This can can show temperature variations on the surface.  Sometimes this can indicate moisture accumulations behind the stucco.

As you can see in the photo to the right, there are cooler variations under the window on this house.  A later invasive stucco inspection confirmed that there was wet OSB behind this stucco system.Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection

Non-Invasive inspections are somewhat limited

The biggest question we would like the answer to when we perform an inspection is, ” what is the condition of the wood behind the stucco. ”  We can’t get that answer definitively with a non-invasive inspection.  Clues can be seen that can tell us there may be an issue, but not much more.  We never recommend that remediation be performed on the basis of a non-invasive inspection alone.  We always recommend a level 2 invasive inspection for this.What is involved with a Stucco Inspection

When should you get a Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection?

Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection When buying a stucco home, having a non-invasive inspection is better than no inspection. If the owner won’t allow an invasive stucco inspection, you’ll need to get all the information you can to judge the potential for major problems. While this inspection is not absolute, it can help you in this decision making by assisting you in calculating the odds. Sometimes, the seller will change their mind on allowing the level 2 if the non-invasive inspection has negative findings.

Why Do Homeowners Refuse the Invasive Inspection? Non-invasive stucco inspection

A homeowner might refuse an invasive stucco inspection for several reasons. Here are some of the common ones:

  1. Aesthetic Concerns: Invasive stucco inspection typically involves drilling small holes into the stucco to insert moisture probes or other inspection tools. While these holes are usually filled and patched afterwards, some homeowners may still have concerns about potential aesthetic damage to their home’s exterior although this does not occur with a Stucco Safe Inspection. Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection
  2. Preserving Integrity: Some homeowners might refuse an invasive inspection to preserve the integrity of the stucco. They might be worried that the process could inadvertently cause damage or weaken the stucco, especially if the stucco was properly installed and has been well-maintained although these concerns are unfounded.
  3. Unnecessary if No Signs of Damage: If there are no visible signs of damage, and non-invasive inspection methods such as thermal imaging and surface moisture meters don’t indicate any issues, homeowners might feel an invasive inspection is unnecessary.
  4. Fear of Finding Problems: Some homeowners might be worried about what an invasive inspection might reveal, fearing that discovered problems could lead to costly repairs.  This is often the biggest reason why homeowners will refuse to allow an invasive inspection.

Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection

Non-Invasive Stucco InspectionStucco, a popular siding material, is renowned for its durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. However, despite its robustness, issues like moisture intrusion can arise, particularly if not installed properly. Moisture intrusion can result in significant moisture damage to both the exterior plaster applied and the underlying wood frame structure. To prevent these potential problems, our professional stucco inspectors can conduct non-invasive stucco inspections to ensure that stucco is correctly applied and maintained.  While useful, only an invasive inspection can truly identify hidden moisture issues. 

Visual Stucco Inspection

This inspection process begins with a visual assessment. The professional stucco inspector examines the stucco and its surrounding areas, checking for signs of improper installation such as missing flashing and expansion joints, which allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the building materials without causing damage. The inspector also looks for visible signs of moisture damage, including discoloration, bulging, or cracking in the stucco. Visual inspections are non-invasive and can detect many issues if the stucco has been improperly installed.

Special Tools For Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection

Following the visual assessment, the inspector uses specialized tools to measure the moisture content without damaging the stucco or the underlying wood sheathing. One such tool is a thermal imaging camera (infrared).
A thermal imaging inspection involves the use of a specialized camera that detects infrared radiation. The camera translates temperature variations into visible light colors, creating a thermographic image. In the context of stucco inspection, these color differentials can reveal crucial information about the condition of the stucco.

Finding Moisture Intrusion with Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection

Moisture intrusion is one of the most common problems faced by stucco homes. Often, moisture issues are not visible to the naked eye, particularly in the early stages. But sometimes (not all the time) with thermal imaging, areas with moisture intrusion can be identified more accurately. This is because wet or moist areas have different thermal characteristics compared to dry areas. They tend to be cooler due to the evaporative cooling effect, and this temperature difference can be detected by a thermal imaging camera.

Infrared Stucco Inspection Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection

The inspection process involves our professional stucco inspector scanning the stucco exterior with a thermal imaging camera. The resulting images help to visualize the potential problem areas that might require further examination. However, it’s important to note that thermal imaging is not a moisture meter—it reveals temperature differences, not actual moisture content. High moisture readings confirmed with a moisture meter often correlate with cooler areas on the thermal image, indicating possible water intrusion.

What Can We See With Non-Invasive Stucco Inspection?

Apart from detecting moisture, thermal imaging can also reveal other potential issues. For instance, it can highlight thermal inconsistencies that may indicate missing or improperly installed insulation beneath the stucco. Also, thermal imaging can identify areas where the stucco has detached from the underlying material, a condition known as delamination, which could eventually lead to moisture intrusion and other structural problems.

However, even with these non-invasive methods, invasive stucco inspections are needed to truly give the real conditions of the substrate.  Rotted and wet substrate are the most common issues with stucco systems, and can not be reliably detected without invasively testing the stucco system.

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