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Old 06-18-2012, 04:55 PM   #1
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Water condensation or external leak in


Hi guys, I recently found out that my walkout basement wall was wet with water. I originally suspected that this is due to water leak externally from my walkout deck above the wall. I removed the insulation and took out the vapor barrier to let the wall dryout. It's been more than a week now and it's been raining quite heavily in my area for the past few days but I didn't notice any water leaks-- the wall is dry--no new water marks. Yesterday, I also did a water test on the walkout deck above the wall and along the deck flashing but I did not see any water leaks from this. A friend of mine mentioned this could be water condensation so I'm wondering what are the attribute of water leaks versus water condensation? We do live in an area where the winter season is long and cold. The house is 4yrs old, if the flashing is the issue then this could have been on going for 4 yrs. Can the osb wall be intact this long? I do not notice any sign of mold (maybe a little but not to the level I can see it clearly as you can see from the pictures). The wall is stucco from outside and the texture looks fine (no sign of water damage). Is there any other technique I should try to determine the root cause? From the picture what do you suspect is the cause?
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Water condensation or external leak in-dsc00845_small.jpg  


Last edited by newbieguy; 06-21-2012 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:00 PM   #2
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Water condensation or external leak in


some pics from the outside? anything that might be suspicious snap a pic

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Old 06-18-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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Water condensation or external leak in


From the distance the water stain pattern looks like condensation. Was there a vapor barrier on the insulation? Do you have anything like humidifier, plants, aquariums, ceramic kilns, etc. in the room? You could get an inexpensive hygrometer at the big box stores to measure the humidity in the room.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:30 PM   #4
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Water condensation or external leak in


You mention that the exterior is stucco. Is this an EIFS, Exterior Insulating Finishing System? These systems have a history of water problems, the newer systems have drainage built in and are a bit better than the early systems. Do a search on EIFS if that is what you have and you will easily find a lot of information that may help you.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:57 PM   #5
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Water condensation or external leak in


Quote:
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From the distance the water stain pattern looks like condensation. Was there a vapor barrier on the insulation? Do you have anything like humidifier, plants, aquariums, ceramic kilns, etc. in the room? You could get an inexpensive hygrometer at the big box stores to measure the humidity in the room.
There was a vapor barrier (plastic sheet) but it was not tightly sealed. My friend said if there was a continuous water path (ie external leak in) for that long period of time (almost 4.5 yrs) you would see extensive mold build up on the wall and studs. Is this true??
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:03 PM   #6
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Water condensation or external leak in


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some pics from the outside? anything that might be suspicious snap a pic
Outside looks normal...see my pictures..no signs of water damage. Flashings were installed along the deck ledger and windows
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:14 PM   #7
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Water condensation or external leak in


Usually a leak causes distinct stains where it runs in or follows something. Looking at your pictures the entire bay looks like it was uniformly damp. also looks like some staining just where the sheathing touches the studs. If like TheCamper says, EIFS has a history of causing moisture problems, I would consider it a #1 suspect. Also how is the exterior paint? some concrete products are not waterproof on their own.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:15 PM   #8
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Usually a leak causes distinct stains where it runs in or follows something. Looking at your pictures the entire bay looks like it was uniformly damp. also looks like some staining just where the sheathing touches the studs. If like TheCamper says, EIFS has a history of causing moisture problems, I would consider it a #1 suspect. Also how is the exterior paint? some concrete products are not waterproof on their own.

My stucco is traditional stucco, I also suspected blocked weeping screed but some of my friends said I would see to some degree the external stucco water damages if this is the case. Also the stucco has to be continuous soaked with water (like someone spraying water directly to it for a long period time) to get the stucco soaked-- this is remotely my case because this stucco wall is under the balcony/walkout deck so intensive water exposure is minimal. The look of my stucco outside is perfect fine no signs of water damage.
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:55 PM   #9
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Water condensation or external leak in


My best guess is high humidity condensing on the inside of the exterior sheathing. I would look for a source of it coming from inside. I once looked at a house that during a party, someones chair legs went through the floor near the front wall. Floor sheathing, sills, joist ends, rim joist, wall shoe, and stud ends were all rotted. The front wall had crushed the parts and the ceiling was almost 1" low. No leaks at all but several large aquariums in the cellar. The insulation in the cellar hid it all. It wasn't a fungi to be with at the party.
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:53 PM   #10
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Water condensation or external leak in


whats to keep water from rolling around the flashing and getting behind it? and if it does where does it exit?
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:56 PM   #11
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Water condensation or external leak in


an active leak can also condense on the sheathing surface,which imo is what you have
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:59 PM   #12
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Water condensation or external leak in


are there any doors or windows above the deck?

the reason for additional pics

Last edited by Tom Struble; 06-20-2012 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:03 PM   #13
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Water condensation or external leak in


I can see what Tom is saying. If you look at your last picture showing the underside of the deck, on the left side where the decking is perpendicular to the wall there are water stains. If that outside is the same wall your inside picture is of, it would be possible for water to get in through the joint between the stucco and the ledger. The wood could have shrunk away from the stucco.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:14 PM   #14
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Water condensation or external leak in


One thing we can't see, is the shoe of that wall water stained? Water coming in, puddling on the shoe, evaporates when heat is on, condenses on the sheathing, vapor barrier keeps it in the wall cavity then. Derived from Army corps of Engineers, Cold Region Research Experimental Laboratory.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #15
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Water condensation or external leak in


ledger flashing needs to be as bullet proof as possible,especially with a monolithic cladding like stucco,simple L shape flashings like yours are not adequate because any moisture that happens to get behind it cannot easily escape

notice in the pic the flashing under the ledger,this directs water direct to day light instead of in to the wall
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