Settlement involves stucco siding

Inspector's Eye

July 28, 2002|By Dean Uhler

Owners of homes that have synthetic stucco, or "EIFS" exterior siding, may be affected by a class action lawsuit settlement involving Dryvit, a major manufacturer of the product.

Exterior insulation and finish system, or EIFS (pronounced "eefs" by most in the industry), is a siding system designed to look like traditional masonry stucco but contains no cement or other masonry components. Instead, it consists of a core of rigid foam insulation boards, with layers of polymers and glass fibers applied to provide strength, texture, color and imperviousness to water.

EIFS has become popular with many architects and builders because of the insulating value, virtual elimination of air infiltration, flexibility and versatility in creating shapes, colors and textures. As a result, "stucco" houses built in the past 15 years are more likely to have EIFS than masonry stucco on them.

Problems, however, arose in many homes with the original EIFS product installed. The problems consisted mainly of water damage to wall structures caused by EIFS's unique water-tightness - if water finds its way into the wall, the EIFS trapped it, resulting in rot and other damage.

Consequently, EIFS manufacturers began producing EIFS designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of trapped moisture in the system. The modification involved the addition of a drainage layer within the system, which provides a mechanism for water that gets behind the siding to find a way out. This drainage-type EIFS has supplanted the earlier "barrier EIFS" for residential applications.

Meanwhile, lawsuits were filed against manufacturers over the original barrier EIFS products. Plaintiffs argued that the trapped moisture problem made barrier EIFS a defective product. The EIFS industry generally denied the claims and attributed the problems to improper installation.

A class action lawsuit filed against Dryvit Systems Inc., a major manufacturer of EIFS, was settled in April. The settlement applies to people who, as of June 5, were owners of houses on which Dryvit EIFS was installed after Jan. 1, 1989. Benefits of the settlement include free inspections of the EIFS, a three-year limited warranty and partial reimbursement for repair costs.

Owners of houses with Dryvit EIFS should obtain and file a claim form before Dec. 5 next year. Claim forms and other information on the Dryvit settlement can be obtained at 800- 320-9415 or www.stuccosettle

If you have stucco siding and are wondering whether it is EIFS, it can usually be distinguished from masonry stucco by thumping on it. Masonry stucco is completely rigid and hard as a rock, because of the cement it contains. Synthetic stucco yields very slightly when thumped, is not rock-hard and, when installed on a typical wood frame house, sounds like it has a layer of rigid foam in it, which it does.

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