Moisture behind stucco

This house was built in 2004 and according to the owner the stucco started cracking a few months after they moved in. This photos are of the east wall taken after the sun had been off the structure for a couple of hours. While there is signicicant cracking none of them are wide cracks. The house is a two story with very little overhang from the roof. I have seen neighbor hoods that have a class action suit and they are re-applying the stucco on most of the homes. This is not one of those neighbor hoods.

stucco gets wet and dries out, like most cement or masonry products
the key is the underlying wrb and flashing applications
what did the interior images and moisture meter conclude?

How long was it before the last rain when the IR photos were taken?

What type of moisture meter and method was used to verify moisture findings? Metal lathing and non-invasive moisture meters don’t work.

Was the moisture on the back side of the surface coat, or on the other side of the open drain space? If moisture is found after a rain, in the open drain space, is this a defect? Drainage in the drain space does not always mean damage to wall materials has happened, correct? (I agree cracks need repaired). Was any moisture testing of the wall sheathing done? (moisture probes?)

Temperatures don’t cross over the open drain space very well, so this makes me ask these questions. I am not trying to pick on you.

There has been no rain for at least a month with temps close to 100 degrees during the day. No moisture on the inside. That is what made me think the stucco had been penetrated.

What moisture meter and methods did you use? Without moisture testing, your taking a big leap to conclude these are actually moisture images…IMHO.

Are you a certified stucco inspector? Just asking.

John, I am not a certified stucco inspector. I used my camera and my moisture meter to check for moisture on the inside. It is dry. I am asking why I would see evidence of moisture in the stucco when it has not rained in a month or so.

If the AC is on inside, you may not be seeing moisture at all. Just cooler areas on the exterior surface.
I like your camera photos. What kind of IR camera are you using?

This is one of my first thoughts as well, although the first and last image is a little too uniform in shape.

John, the correct non-evasive moisture meter works fine on stucco and other wall/roofing materials. A lot of non evasive meters only measure 1/4 to 1/2 inch, I think that is what you might be referring to. Get a Tramex MEP for 1" and for exterior and roofing materials use a Tramex RWS (best moisture meter in the world, IMO).

Gary if you want me to come out and check it out I am game, since you are in the neighborhood :slight_smile:

What camera is that? It looks like a Fluke image. Either the parallax alignment is off in the camera (not likely on a Fluke) or it is out of focus.


Jason…this house is in Verado (Buckeye). I referred someone to your company a few weeks ago. The guy lived on Camelback Mountain with a 32,000 square foot house. Did he call you?

The camera is a Fluke TIR.

eifs/foam sill trims will not retain heat at the same rate as cement stucco and may appear wet/cooler through ir spectrum

EIFS/stucco inspector note:
All trim and projecting architectural features must have a minimum 1:2 [27 degree] slope along their top surface. All horizontal reveals must have a minimum 1:2 [27 degree] slope along their bottom surface. In climates where freeze and ice buildup occurs the slope should be increased.

Wow nice client.

Nope no one called.

Lots of commercial jobs down here as of late though. Doing a pretty cool one in Prescott Valley in a couple of weeks. 5 subs in total required to do the job. Being done over a period of 3 nights from midnight to 6 AM.


Please explain how a moisture meter that uses the principle of electrical impedance is not going to react to wire mesh installed on a traditional three coat system. These types of meters emit a semi-circular field of electrical pulses in the detection area. Anything that has a different electrical impedance within that detection field will result in the meter triggering a signal regardless of the depth of the material in the detection field. If you are reading at a depth of 1 inch and your lath material is at a depth of 1/2 inch, the meter should trigger an alarm every time if it is calibrated and you are using it correctly.

The only ways to get accurate measurements of the underlying substrate is to do invasive moisture meter readings using pin probes that go past the metal lath. The other way is to conduct measurements from the interior after creating a path to the substrate by removing the interior wall surfaces and insulation. The exterior approach will compromise the moisture barrier and your client should be made aware of this before drilling any holes. Either way is considered invasive and destructive testing.

I would suggest you read through the product literature and do some research on the principles of electrical impedance testing so you do not tell people false information.


That is correct and my post lacked the other than. What I meant is get a non evasive that will do all forms while still being able to accept probes, rather than pins. Pins normally are only 1/8". Pins are also not insulated which can also throw out a false positive from the mesh if it is close enough to the surface. With one that is non evasive and accepts probes you can use insulated probes to avoid that issue.


I think Scott pointed out you were wrong and your obfuscation is not hiding that fact.:mrgreen:

This thread also points out the benefits of a building related IR course vs level I.

Exactly why we do not mess with residential except for flat roofs.

As far as a building IR training course, Snell offers a level I that is building diagnostics based, rather than industrial/electrical, which is still ASTM based. Plus you have a BD course.


At least we learn how a moisture meter works…:mrgreen:


I have been using and selling electrical test and measurement equipment for over 20 years, I understand impedance. My post on the moisture meter was refering to getting a non evasive meter with probes vs a regular pin moisture meter. That way you do not have to buy two different types of meters. You can get upwards of 4" of penetration with the higher end ones, which is extremly useful when doing flat roof IR scans.



Last I heard you are not a Level I, II, or III thermographer to make a statement such as that. Please explain your basis since it is apparent that you have no background to make a comparison. My level one course that I took went into plenty detail about building science and the use of infrared technology. I really don’t understand where you come up with this stuff. Your course may be fine for a basic understanding of the use of thermal imaging, but please don’t try to kid anyone into thinking that FORMAL education is not required.

Your Infrared Certified training may be good for the home inspector who wants a new toy to play with in his tool box to impress clients and real estate agents. Those of us who want to make big money doing other things besides residential home inspections and giving away thermal imaging scans for beans will get certified by well known industry experts to do inspections like I do on a regular basis.

You recommended a** Tramex MEP** (see post number eight) for stucco moisture detection. Does that model have pins? :slight_smile: