Allow this as a follow up to Stucco Homes in the Hilton Head Area blog where it was mentioned that minor stucco maintenance and installation mistakes can lead to major repair problems. The exterior surface of your home has many square feet of surface but it only takes less than a square inch to invite water into your home and create extensive water damage.

The majority of stucco homes in the Low Country provide a long life of hassle free protection from the elements and have a typical life span of 50+ years. However even the best craftsmanship will need general maintenance over the years. An annual visual inspection of your home’s exterior is a great place to start.

Everything appears to be fine on the Sun City Stucco Home at first glance.

You will want to look at the homes surface for large cracks with separation, holes, screws or nails penetrating the stucco, discoloration, separation around windows and doors, areas where the roof intersects a wall and areas where the sprinkler system may continually hit your home. These are all invitations for water to enter and become problematic. Although these areas are the most common points of water entering a home, take time to look and think about what could cause problems.

If you feel you won’t be able to spot problem areas you can always contact a local professional in Hilton Head and Bluffton to perform a stucco inspection for you. This is an opportunity for you to receive an education about your homes stucco siding and what to look out for in the future if you choose to stick close by to the inspector.

Minor moisture was detected behind the stucco and little to no damage occurred since it was caught early on.

The most common local testing in Hilton Head and Bluffton is infrared photography where water trapped below the stucco will show up as cooler spots in thermal imaging. This method can be a good indication however it is not full proof and readings may indicate water present while there may not be.

The second method for detecting water is with bore testing with this method the inspector will select areas that tend to be problematic. In these problem areas the inspector will drill a hole through the stucco and take moisture readings of the plywood beneath. If water is detected you are certain you have an entry point for water entering below the stucco. The problem with this method is your results are limited to the areas tested but most good inspectors know the right places to look.

Once an area is identified with high moisture content it is time to call a professional stucco contractor and see what he will suggest. The photo below shows where a stucco contractor cut “windows” in the stucco to inspect the extent of the damage and the repairs needed. As mentioned above the smallest mistakes can lead to water entering the stucco. This area of damage was due to the small gutter less than 2 feet in length which was sloping the wrong direction back toward the home. The continual moisture slowly penetrated the home and created a higher than normal moisture reading. Luckily this was caught in a timely manner and structural repairs were not needed.

Here a "Window" is cut into this Sun City Home to reveal moisture damage which was minor in this area.

If you are buying a stucco home it is imperative that you have a stucco inspection to ensure there are no issues that you will inherit with your purchase and consider a REALTOR who understands construction. If you are selling your home in the Hilton Head area you may want to have this inspection completed upfront to alleviate any concerns. In Sun City Hilton Head it has become customary for sellers to provide a clean inspection report for the sale of their home. You may as well not delay and get that inspection done along with listing your home. Giving buyer’s confidence when they purchase will make your home worth more.

This satellite bracket is installed like many others in Sun City but take a closer look. Do you see the sage in the roof? That is water damage.

This damage to the roof was revealed as well as damage to the stucco soffit below. Again this turned into a relatively easy fix since it was caught before rotting out the wall below.

So take a little time and observe your home and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised of the condition. If not you will be happy you found any problems now rather than years down the road after the problem is magnified.