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Inspection methods - Invasive vs. Non-Invasive?

Short of removing your stucco, there is no true way to guarantee ALL areas of moisture can be found.

Non-invasive methods with wall meter and Infrared Camera are very helpful in finding issues, but each has limitations. Both should ONLY be used as baselines to target areas that will need to be directly probed. Limitations are as follows:

Wall Meter (non-invasive):

  • Only reads 1/2-3/4" into Stucco. If a small gap is present between sheathing/stucco, meter will not detect moisture in sheathing. ​

  • Prone to "false positives". If stucco is relatively thin, metal lathe will cause meter to give elevated moisture readings when none are actually present. 

  • If stucco is very thick, meter cannot penetrate far enough through stucco to detect possible moisture. 

Thermal Camera (non-invasive):

  • Thermal cameras only detect changes in temperature, NOT moisture. Purpose of camera is only to find "anomalies" which will need to be reviewed further when found.

  • Outside influences can easily alter/prevent findings. If outside temperature is same as temperature inside home, camera will not detect anything (ideally, a 10 degree temperature differential between inside/outside is needed for proper readings). In addition, shadows from nearby trees/shrubs can alter readings as well. 

  • User Error. Thermal cameras are far from "plug and play". When used for inspection purposes, several factors need to be accounted for to ensure camera is properly calibrated to detect possible issues. 

Invasive Testing (probing):

The most effective way to find presence of moisture is to probe directly into wood sheathing in multiple areas around home. Probing is done ONLY in areas that are most prone to moisture. They are as follows:

  • Lower corners of ALL windows.

  • Beneath all area(s) of kick-out flashing (depending on model).

  • Below kitchen exhaust fans.

  • Above garage door (depending on model).

  • Location(s) where lanai/additions have been added.

  • Exploratory probes may also be done in random areas at the discretion of inspector based on.

    • Cracks/bulging areas of stucco.​

    • Large separation in expansion joints.

    • Visible staining at base of wall.

NOTE: Invasive testing is recommended when client has plans on repainting home, or, when client is trying to determine if replacement of stucco is necessary.