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Virtual Home Inspection Tour
Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS)

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EIMA Guidelines for the Inspection of EIFS-Clad Houses

The primary objective of inspecting the exterior of any existing house is to determine whether or not it is installed and functioning properly. Merely comparing the home's existing specifics to current published guidelines fails to accomplish this objective. An inspection should identify repairs that are essential, effective and cost-effective.

Inspection reports that identify existing details and conditions as "defective" because they depart from current published manufacturers' guidelines can mislead the homeowner, real estate agent, or other parties into starting unnecessary remedial work. This is especially true if there is positive evidence that the existing details are functioning properly.

The following guidelines may be helpful in determining if there is a need for remedial work on single-family, EIFS-clad houses.

Overall Description: EIMA-Published Details.
Function: For general information and guidance only.
Guidelines: For new construction, EIMA details provide a helpful guide in designing the critical interfaces between various exterior building components. Alternate detailing is acceptable, as long as it provides the desired performance characteristics.

Item Description: Horizontal Joint at Floor Lines

Function: Address cross-grain shrinkage in dimensional lumber that could result in wrinkling or cracking of coatings, or bulging of the system.

Guidelines: This type of shrinkage occurs when lumber experiences its initial loss of moisture. This happens only once in the life of a house, typically in the first two years. For houses two or more years old, a joint or other re-medial work is unnecessary if there is no evidence of bulging, wrinkling or cracking at the floor line. (The American Institute of Timber Construction can provide information on wood properties.)

Item Description: Sealant Joints around Openings and Penetrations

Function: Prevent water entry where EIFS meet other materials. Sealant is installed to provide a weather seal and to accommodate movement between materials.

Guidelines: Sealant must be utilized at all terminations, including where EIFS terminate or meet other materials. Filet beads with bond breaker (such as triangular backer rod, or bond breaker tape) are appropriate for weather seal joints around windows, doors and other minor penetrations in single-family houses.

Item Description: Projecting Surfaces

Function: Provides architectural features (i.e. trim around windows and doors, quoins, and other decorative features).

Guidelines: Location and climate will influence the performance of a projecting surface. Residential trim protruding horizontally is acceptable if no damage has occurred to the EIFS surface.

Item Description: Termination above Roof or Deck

Function: A gap allows for appropriate system edge termination, ease of roof or deck replacement or repair. It also allows for the system and flashing to be inspected for proper installation.

Guidelines: On an existing project, the termination can occur closer to the roof or deck surfaces than indicated in published details, as long as the bottom edge of the EIF system satisfies the manufacturer's specifications.

Item Description: Termination Above Finished Grade

Function: A gap should be maintained between EIFS and the finished grade. The gap must be wide enough to allow access for visual inspection and treatment of the foundation for pest control.

Guidelines: Where access to the foundation is not required for visual inspection or treatment for pest control, the EIFS can remain in place.

Item Description: Kickout/Diverter at Roof/ Wall Intersection

Function: Accumulating water runoff should be directed out and away from the structure. Roof-to-wall flashing requires a kickout/ diverter at its termination to insure that water is directed to the outside.

Guidelines: The diverter can vary in its dimensions to accommodate local exposure conditions and specific detailing requirements, as long as it directs water completely away from wall surfaces.

The information in this document is intended to serve only as a guide for inspecting and determining what remedial work may be necessary if EIFS are not installed in accordance with EIMA's published application instructions, guideline specifications and typical details. EIMA assumes no responsibility for architecture, engineering, or design, or its members' products, or for the success of jobs on which EIFS products are used, or any remedial work. For this document's purpose, it is assumed that the house was built by a qualified builder, and all remedial work is performed by qualified personnel according to local building code requirements. For new construction, as opposed to EIFS remediation work, EIFS manufacturers' recommendations, details and specifications should always be followed.

The "Guide to Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems Construction" provides an easy-to-follow roadmap showing how EIFS are installed and integrated into a typical wall assembly. If you're a home inspector, architect, construction engineer, homebuilder, or a homeowner, you'll find the sketches and accompanying descriptions to be particularly helpful. The guide replaces the "EIMA Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems Class PB Details", and applies to all EIF systems on the market.

Article provided by EIMA; visit http://www.eima.com/specialinterests/homeinspectionprofessionals/ for more EIFS info for Home Inspectors.

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