Leaky cladding systems can cause water damage; use vinyl windows to help reduce leaks
Cladding is the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements. In today's market there are a lot of different monolithic cladding systems available for your home. However, there are some that are more prone to causing leaks than others. Buildings with structural framing made from untreated timber with non-cavity monolithic cladding systems are at risk more than the rest.
If the cladding system does not have a gap between the framing and the cladding, water can easily get in. As soon the water enters there is no way to get rid of it. It cannot be drained or dried out. This is known as Leaky Home Syndrome and can cause the timbers to rot. When there is so much moisture hidden, the homeowner may be unaware of the problem for a long length of time. This means that it is important to keep water out with preventative maintenance.
Which clad systems are more prevalent in leaky houses?
Monolithic claddings that are generally involved with leaky homes are those that have a plaster finish with waterproof coating and include:
- EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems)
- Texture coated fiber-cement
These systems are not cladding themselves. This creates a problem because of the way they have been installed and finished.
Cement-based plaster is used in various backings that include, but are not limited to, fiber-cement and plywood sheeting. After this step it is painted to ensure it is waterproof. This type has been used since the 1920s. If you have a system like this there are a few things you need to check: cracking of the plaster, and flashings where the plaster has been punctured.
External Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) is also known as External foam cladding.
These are made of polystyrene boards with a plaster and paint finish. It is important to give attention to the corners of windows and exposed edges. This is because the paint finish might wear or crack.
Texture coated fiber cement has been around longer than EIFS.
It is made out of cement, fine sand, and cellulose with a textured coating applied. It is painted after the sheets have been installed. It must be maintained because it is reliant on a waterproof coating. Look for cracks in the join that must be raked out and reformed. Contact a professional if you have difficulties with the sealant.
Repair and Maintenance
Attempting to repair or maintain the previously mentioned cladding system is often difficult and can be hard to maintain. Do not attempt to make repairs yourself without seeking advice from a professional first.
There are a few main things you need to watch out for when dealing with water damage. If the water has gotten into your home, you will more than likely run into the following problems:
Mold is especially dangerous since it also poses a health risk and should be dealt with by a professional immediately. Mold damage and removal can be costly as well and is not typically covered by your home owners insurance. For other issues there is non-invasive testing that can be done if you are concerned that you may have water damage.
Avoid Leaky Home Syndrome
The solution to avoiding a leaky home is to simply not use any of the cladding system listed above. Instead, use a material that is designed to deal with the elements from the start. You can't always update or change your home's exterior. However, replacing windows can be a relatively small investment to help protect your home from leaks. Vinyl windows is a great choice as they provide excellent water resistance; they are strong, durable, and maintenance free.