Siding

Thermal imaging/Infrared helps to find Siding Leakage

Siding systems are continually evolving, changing and sometimes improving as new materials are developed and new understandings in building envelopes are improved.

We are always looking for the sidings that need less maintenance, are inexpensive and, are easy to install with very little instruction. Those three attributes fuel the evolution of sidings and over the years some have been great and some have not been so good. In the last 20 years there has been a siding that has worked well in other parts of the country but has failed so consistently in the northwest it has actually been banned in Oregon! This wonderful siding is very adept at allowing water into the wall cavity while appearing visually good.

Synthetic stucco, Exterior Insulating Finishing Systems (EIFS), or even by the brand name “Dry-vit.”

Like most siding systems the problems arise with poor installation. Lack of proper installation training appears to be at the heart of the problems with EIFS. If EIFS is installed precisely and maintained aggressively, it can shed water properly.

Perfect installation is very rare. So rare, that I have only seen one home that had a proper EIFS installation and the home had just undergone a $100,000+ insurance claim siding remodel that involved forensic siding specialists!

If you are going to buy a home that is covered in EIFS you should plan on having an inspection that will include invasive probing. The foam boards that make up the substrate can be a very clever thermal barrier…

EIFS is still allowed on commercial buildings and on a recent inspection in Salem, my clients did not negotiate for invasive probing and thankfully the pictures that the thermal camera captured made the total replacement of the siding a compelling option:

Infrared finds leakage in Stucco
Leakage in Siding noted with Infrared/ thermal imaging
Visual view of the EFIS stucco siding      The blue is the moisture that can be located with infrared/thermal imaging
Blue = leakage noted with Infrared/ thermal Imaging
More Infrared located leakage

Wood Chip siding/OSB Problems and Maintenance Ideas Noted on Salem Oregon Home Inspections

As wood products have become more and more expensive the search for a viable inexpensive alternative has intensified.  In the world of siding real wood is still hard to beat.  Real wood sheds liquid water and allows water vapor to effectively come and go.  Solid wood is really a fantastic siding material but it is expensive so creative companies have been trying to develop a product that could be made from wood by-product (wood chips and fiber).

Wood chip siding has been around for many years but in the late 80’s and early 90’s a certain type of OSB (Oriented Strand Board) siding really became popular around Salem, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.  The type that really had issues was the lap type made by Louisiana Pacific (LP).  This product had an adhesive that did not resist moisture effectively, and because proper sealing with primer and paint and continued home owner maintenance cannot be counted upon, the siding began to absorb moisture very quickly and began to deteriorate (grow mushrooms/fall apart).

LP went back to the drawing board, made some adjustments and continued to produce a very similar “wood chip” lap siding.  The adjustments were made to the sealing process.  They primed the entire board at the factory not just the front face, and they put a bevel on the drip edge of the siding that would help water drip off instead of being absorbed.

Wood chip siding also comes in panel form and although it is a similar product to the lap siding it doesn’t have as high of a percentage of vulnerable areas.  With the lap siding the bottom drip edge and all the other edges (only the front face is really the only durable side) are vulnerable and should be actively sealed/maintained with primer

and paint.  The panel boards come in 4’x8′ sheets and again only the edges are vulnerable but the damage resistant surfaces (again the front face) are much larger per piece.  The panels edges still need to be sealed actively.

One of the most common mistakes I see on home inspections around Salem, Oregon is the very bottom edge of the siding not getting painted.  Of course I carry a mirror that makes it easier for me to see that bottom edge that is only 8″ off the ground, but even with out fancy home inspector g ear you can get down on your knees and make sure this most vulnerable of areas gets sealed.  Both panel and lap siding have this issue and usually from waste down is where the lap goes bad and the very botto m is where the panel siding doesn’t get painted and begins to fail.

Now what is “failure/deterioration/dry rot?” In one of my earlier posts I wrote about “dry rot,” and why I do not use that term.  I prefer to use the term deterioration and basically that refers to a level of hardness or lack-of-hardness.  A good rule of thumb is: “If you poke it with your finger does it flex easily?” or (and if you are looking to buy a home that is not yours yet please leave this method to the professional home inspector) “Will a screwdriver/awl/knife point penetrate easily?”  If the answer is “yes” to either of those questions then the siding will not be able to sufficiently hold on to primer/paint and therefore it will not be able to shed water effectively and will continue to deteriorate and possibly begin to allow deterioration of related areas of the home (wall structure).

Some of the composite (wood chip/particle) sidings begin to swell when the paint is failing and allowing water to be absorbed.  Sometimes this swelling can be stifled with prudent and active painting.  But again the siding has got to be “hard” still. If it flexes it will not be able to hold on to the paint that will prevent further moisture absorption and will need to be replaced.

As the siding products have evolved, there have been good and not so good products.  The siding’s job is to shed water while allowing water vapor to come and go.  This job must be achieved while striving for low cost, durability, and ease of installation.  The “wood chip,” siding met a few of those needs, low cost and ease of installation, while suffering in the durability aspect.  However with knowledge of this type of siding’s vulnerabilities and active/aggressive maintenance it can be a lasting and effective siding system.




Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape