My first florida moisture intrusion inspection

Moved here a month ago from NC where I was an inspector and G.C…

Appears we have a serious problem in the sunshine state…

So, anyways, this guy owns a one year old DR Horton townhouse that, along with most of the other townhouses in the neighborhood got some serious water leakage during Fay.

I was using a GE Aquant moisture meter and was getting readings from 300 all the way up to 900 through the exterior stucco. It should be noted that it had not rained for a few days there.

The upper story moisture readings were much higher than the first floor CBS on the side of the townhouse, which is also the part of the house that did not seem to be leaking into the house.

Now, the back of the house was where most of the leaks were. I would get high readings over 400 even several feet to either side of a window.

If you ran the meter along an expansion joint the reading wasnt as high, and would read a consistent 150 to 200. I suspect this is because they are drying out faster as they are not air tight.

Water stains on the sills on inside of most of the windows of the townhouse.

I am thinking that the solution to this is to seal the expansion joints, around the windows, and then paint with a good polyurethane paint to better seal the stucco.
I did notice that the paint seemed a little thin in spots.

The second photo is of what may be a weep hole? I couldnt see any consistancy with weep holes, so I am thinking it is another one of many little imperfections in the stucco and water found its way out…no weep holes above the windows.

The fifth photo is of another stucco opening next to a window.

I’ll get more pics up.

Upstairs Front Window - Not Sealed.JPG

Upstairs Front Window - Not Sealed.JPG

Side of House.JPG

MM 995 - rt of upstairs window.JPG

Upstairs left window - water mark in stucco hole.JPG


by the way, I know I’m not a member yet. I am a member of ASHI, but there are lots of really great things about NACHI that I like more…such as this forum and the free education classes offered…

so, I am planning on joining here in the next few days:)

There are no stucco problems in Florida! :wink:

the other thing I noticed is that the stucco goes right down to the soil.

Isnt there supposed to be 8 inches of clearance from soil to stucco?

All of the townhomes in the neighborhood are like this.

4" - 6" on dirt
2" on hard surfaces

thanks, dont get a lot of stucco in western NC
and…are the readings I’m getting on the aquant somewhat reliable/believable?
This was my first time using a moisture meter…

MM224 - Inside downstairs window.JPG

MM 817 - Upstairs window.JPG

MM 635 - 3ft to rt of upstairs window.JPG

Gap in stucco under upstairs window.JPG

The 3rd picture has a weephole!

Be careful! Newer Florida homes have metal studs and metal corner bead which will give false high indications on a moisture meter. Lift up the corners/edge of the carpeting and see if the moisture intrusion has reached the floor.

Picture 2 is a wood framed window and they can appear to be higher (once again can be a false high).

Let me guess the back of the house has cheap doors? Well with no overhang (2 story building) cheap doors and Florida winds…what would you expect. The overhangs are important to opening protection.

Your heading indicates WATER INTRUSION INSPECTION. Now what was the buyer hoping to acheive by the water intrusion inspection. That it is happening? I would think they could tell from the stains on the walls. Are they calling you out to DETERMINE the cause of the water intrusion? If this is the case then THINKING of what might be the problem is not what they paid you to do. They want to KNOW what the problem is. A moisture meter can accomplish this…but it is time consuming. Thermal Infrared Cameras are very good for this application but not madatory.

If they are calling you out to determine the source of the leak, then get a buddy with a hose with a spray attachment and get to work. Take the readings with the mositure meter and begin to spray suspected areas of a wall and keep measing the moisture levels and look for water intrusion. Allways start from the lowest area and work your way up, working from top to bottom can lead to a false finding.

I am not busting your balls by any means, but if DR Horton get a report that says I think its the seams, the windows, the paint and the exterior overall. Caulk everything and repaint it…I would assume they would want proof. And with that diagnosis, why call a PROFESSIONAL? Hell sealing all the areas would just about cover it all.

I do subcontractor work for a large engineering firm that tests for water intrusion. They have extensive equipment and tools. But you can almost get the same results with a sprayer hose and mositure meter…just takes A LONG time. I wish you luck and if you need any help I am here. Life is different down here and so are the problems and I will assist in any way possible…Take care and you did reach the right organization…NACHI has the right people and people are what makes the organization.

Once again…In my humble opinion

DR Horton knows there is a problem, trust me…

At least half of the neighborhood is wet.

They have Dryright on contract with blowers in all the homes, and are sending some people to talk specifically to my client tomorrow.

I suspect DR Horton is simply going to caulk everything and call it a day.

Back of the house has one sliding glass door with a big dormer type overhang.
I’ll try and post pics.

So far as the source of the leak goes, I suspect the expansion joints are largely responsible, along with the window’s and lack of/improper flashing,etc…

There were moist areas ABOVE the expansion joints on a wall with NO windows…so water must also be getting in through the stucco itself somehow?

This only applies for frame /stucco here in Florida. Stucco over block in dirt is approved.



There are millions of block homes with stucco below grade in Florida.

Just because they are does not make it right.

Just because you say so doesn’t make it wrong.


If they would install stucco on the block with moisture barrier’s and lath like on the wood framed parts of the houses alot of leaks would go away.

There were moist areas ABOVE the expansion joints on a wall with NO windows…so water must also be getting in through the stucco itself somehow?

When the go from wood framing to the block they quit putting on moisture barrier’s. So as you say the moisture is most likely getting in at or under the control joint’s.

The Florida building code states that there should be 6 inches with exceptions. I think number 1 applies for block homes as the stucco is only required to be a 1/4 inch thick.


In order to provide for inspection for termite infestation, clearance between exterior wall coverings and final earth grade on the exterior of a building shall not be less than 6 inches (152 mm).
**Exceptions: **

  1. Paint or decorative cementitious finish less than 5 / 8 inch (17.1 mm) thick adhered directly to the masonry foundation sidewall.

  2. Access or vehicle ramps which rise to the interior finish floor elevation for the width of such ramps only.

  3. A 4-inch (102 mm) inspection space above patio and garage slabs and entry areas.

  4. If the patio has been soil treated for termites, the finish elevation may match the building interior finish floor elevations on masonry construction only.

  5. Masonry veneers.

A link to the Florida Building Code.