They Knew All Along…
Internal memos of several major EIFS manufacturers discovered during early litigation reveal that as far back as the early 1990’s, industry executives knew that barrier EIFS would likely fail on wood-frame residential construction.
For example, EIFS manufacturer STO suggested that, even if the system is perfectly installed, the materials used to seal EIFS around openings (windows, doors, etc.) may fail under normal weather conditions and result in water intrusion.
Manufacturer Dry-Vit acknowledged in 1998 that hairline cracks and other openings allow a risk of water intrusion over time. This can happen when moisture is literally sucked through the EIFS cladding when strong winds create an air pressure differential between the outside and inside of the building.
Another manufacturer, Senergy even resigned from the industry association EIMA. Senergy had been urging EIMA to recommend only drainable EIFS on one and two-family residential construction, citing the moisture intrusion problems that first surfaced in North Carolina in 1995. They said that the industry should have learned from this experience and developed drainable EIFS because of “the lack of design professionals, poor quality construction management and lower quality adjacent wall components” in residential versus commercial construction.
Follow the Paper Trail
EIFS manufacturers knew for many years that barrier EIFS was not suitable for use in many residential construction applications. They knew or should have known that water penetrating behind the system would become trapped, eventually rotting the sheathing and ultimately the framing of these dwellings. There are even memoranda from senior executives at major EIFS manufacturers warning of the potential damage. One such memorandum even recommended creating a large contingency fund to pay the substantial claims anticipated with EIFS’s use on residential dwellings.
The Blame Game Isn’t Working…
There are thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of single family houses, condominium and townhouse units constructed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York with an EIFS exterior cladding. The EIFS industry’s main argument is that faulty installation of EIFS stucco and deficient installation of windows by builders and subcontractors is the cause of damage. However, in developing new drainable EIFS products, several manufacturers have made statements appearing to acknowledge that the original EIFS products manufactured by these companies were defective. And, the National Association of Home Builders (“NAHB”) believes that barrier EIFS is an inherently defective product which, even if installed precisely to the manufacturer’s specifications, is still subject to failure.
Changing Their Tune
In late 1998, EIMA announced that it now recommends the use of “drainage” or “water-managed” EIFS for one and two-story residential construction (although the association still recommends barrier EIFS for multi-family residential and commercial construction). This is a reversal of EIMA’s long-held position that barrier EIFS is appropriate for all residential and commercial construction.
Now, in filings with the U.S. Government, EIFS manufacturers acknowledge that their water barrier EIFS products are deficient and espouse the virtues of drainable EIFS products.
That’s great. It’s called progress. But, as EIFS information begins to surface in New Jersey, there remains one glaring question. If your home has EIFS, where does that leave you?