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Old 12-26-2010, 08:01 PM   #1
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


We have a leakage issue with more than 50% of our windows (facing north and east). The house is in Los Angeles, a 2 story contemporary stucco with flat roof and it was purchased 5 months ago. The windows are vinyl, flush with the stucco, half from Rehau and the other half is not identified by any particular manufacturer. After a first few days of rain weve noticed that the base of the studs were getting wet (we can see this since we have drywall cut out 4 from the floor around entire house). Upon further research and water testing the source of the leak turned out to be on the outside perimeter of the the window frame where the vinyl meets the stucco. A local contractor suggested a fix by making a notch around the frame with a grinding wheel, install a 1 flange at the top of the window and then re-patch it with cement over glue (Quicrete Concrete Bonding Adhesive). See attached pictures.

Well, after 2 weeks of work, the windows are still leaking. My understanding the issue is with improper flashing and has nothing to do with gaps between the vinyl and the stucco itself. However, due to the number of leaking windows, its not possible to remove the stucco and fix all flashing. Is my only option now to seal all gaps between the window frame and the stucco with elastic adhesive caulk and then paint it over with elastomeric paint? Or is the a better option?
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Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1101.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1092.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1119.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1120.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1122.jpg  

Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1124.jpg  

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Old 12-28-2010, 08:52 PM   #2
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


While the junction of the stucco and vinyl should be channeled and sealed with a high expansion sealent, I suspect the troubles are much bigger, judgeing from some of the water signs in the pics. First, you need to find a real stucco craftsman, not whoever did the patches shown.
My suspicion is that there is a lack of adequate drainage plane behind the entire stucco job. As wind driven rain and heat driven humidity penetrate the stucco, there is probably massive condensation occurring behind the stuccco. With no proper flashings to guide it to the exterior, it runs down and collects on the sill plates and/or tops of the window frames. That little superficial drip cap shown is not the solution; this should be a flashing that has a vertical leg tucked behind the drainage plane and extends horizontally out over the window to guide moisture to the exterior. There should be a similar flashing at the bottom edge of the stucco, around the entire building.

Sorry, but I believe you have a high dollar problem here.

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:57 PM   #3
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Thanks, for the reply, troubleseeker. You've confirmed my fear that whatever these guys were doing was not going to work. I do have already a weep screed installed at the bottom of the stucco that I've just wire brushed and opened some patched weepholes (see attached). But it's probably not going to make much difference. I see that the water gets to the sill plate within 4 min of me spraying the bottom right corner of the window. And I know it's not the window hardware itself as we've had it sealed during the water tests which showed that the water penetrates through the stucco/vinyl junction.

So, if I understood the situation correctly, to do it right I'd have to remove the stucco around the windows and the windows and make sure the windows are properly flashed. Then have the stucco professional to re-stucco and then repaint the house (my current stucco is already painted). Taking into consideration the number of windows, I hope I have enough years left in me and $$ to ever finish this job.

What do you think about sealing the vinyl/stucco junction with high quality long lasting caulk and painting the entire house with elastomeric paint? Will this be a reasonable compromise?
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Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1149.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-img_1157.jpg  

Last edited by deeonline; 12-28-2010 at 10:59 PM. Reason: The pictures don't show up
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:36 AM   #4
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Assuming that what we are seeing here is the backside of a flashing or a weep screed:
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:28 PM   #5
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Could this green metal plate be part of the balcony frame? This window is on the second floor and the balcony is attached right outside of it. I've attached more pictures with annotations. Hopefully, this clarifies it a little.

Is my only realistic option to paint the stucco with elastomeric paint and then repaint it every 5 years? I can't imagine what it would cost to rip off the stucco from half of the house to fix the water barrier and flashings.

Thank you very much in advance for your opinions.
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Windows Leaking Nightmare-alex-window-outside.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-alex-window-inside.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-alex-window-greenplate.jpg  
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:29 PM   #6
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Have you looked at the roof?


Did you troubleshoot it with a hose/pressure washer?



You need to find the points of entry then figure the coarse of the repair.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:26 PM   #7
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Yes, the roof has been tested. All is good. We've tested the windows with water hose and the water starts streaking down on the inside as shown int he picture within 4 min. I think we are pretty clear where the water enters--it penetrates through the vinyl/stucco junction at the bottom corners of the window. Water barrier/flashings fail to guide the water to the exterior and it ends up on the sill plates. Now, I am trying to figure out a feasible solution for this without removing all stucco/lath and fixing drainage plane from scratch. I doubt I can afford this. Will coating with elastomeric paint help to eliminate majority of leaks? I understand this is not the right solution to this problem, but this is probably second to the best solution I could afford. Thank you.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:47 PM   #8
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


see nobody really wants to tell you it will help,could possibly make things worse

stucco really needs to be cut back,the units removed,all flashings need to overlap the existing paper

ive used a technique where i use a piece of flashing directing water over the top of the stucco
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Windows Leaking Nightmare-p1010058.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-0808101219a.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-0827101611.jpg  
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:07 PM   #9
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeonline View Post
Thanks, for the reply, troubleseeker. You've confirmed my fear that whatever these guys were doing was not going to work. I do have already a weep screed installed at the bottom of the stucco that I've just wire brushed and opened some patched weepholes (see attached). But it's probably not going to make much difference. I see that the water gets to the sill plate within 4 min of me spraying the bottom right corner of the window. And I know it's not the window hardware itself as we've had it sealed during the water tests which showed that the water penetrates through the stucco/vinyl junction.

So, if I understood the situation correctly, to do it right I'd have to remove the stucco around the windows and the windows and make sure the windows are properly flashed. Then have the stucco professional to re-stucco and then repaint the house (my current stucco is already painted). Taking into consideration the number of windows, I hope I have enough years left in me and $$ to ever finish this job.

What do you think about sealing the vinyl/stucco junction with high quality long lasting caulk and painting the entire house with elastomeric paint? Will this be a reasonable compromise?
If your testing seems pretty convincing that the windows are the primary source of water intrusion, I would do one window that is easy to spot the leakage on and then test. If sucessfull, proceed with others. As pointed out in another reply from Michael Thomas, the apparent incorrect installation of the bottom drip screed will continue to direct moisture into the wall unless also fixed. And the top of each window and door will have to be flashed behind the drainage plane to direct moisture to the exterior.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:41 PM   #10
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


Thank you tomstruble. I wonder if it's really going to make it worse than it is now. My stucco house is already painted. Just the fresh patches around the windows are the only areas that haven't been painted yet. That's why I was thinking of repainting everything with elastomeric paint as plan B.

Looking at your picture #1, I see the window is flashed with FlexWrap. Is the latter exposed like shown on the picture all time or is it covered with a window trim? In my case, the windows are embedded flush with the stucco, no trim. Once it is properly flashed with FlexWrap, where the water, lets say, entered through the window vinyl/stucco junction on the second floor should exit? Below the same window through the stucco or should it travel on top of the building paper all the way down and exit at the weep screed at the bottom? I've been reading and watching various videos, but have hard time finalizing this concept in my head.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:52 PM   #11
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


the first pic was a different window and did have a composite trim that was spaced off the flashing so water could exit over the stucco

the second pic shows the flashing under the window sill but is hard to see

in your case the windows probably have a fin on the bottom,when i flash the bottom of a window i like to put a rip of beveled siding on the rough sill to help pitch water to the outside

so as long as you flash over the paper you should be ok you could retrofit all the windows to have a trim detail
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Windows Leaking Nightmare-1019101211.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-1019101213.jpg   Windows Leaking Nightmare-1019101225.jpg  

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Old 12-29-2010, 10:57 PM   #12
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


I see. Thank you very much for explanation and the pictures--they do speak a thousand words. I think even if I flash the windows properly with FlexWrap and tape the flanges with Flashing tape, I might still have leakage issues letting the water traveling down the paper, since a) I've noticed the paper is stapled to the studs with big construction grade staples (in many place they've missed the studs and the staples are simply sticking out trough the paper) and the water may still enter the building envelope via the wholes created by staples and b) the paper is ripped or partially missing in some places near the sill plates so I can see parts of cement (stucco?) projecting through the paper as you can see in the pictures above. For some reason, the northern and eastern side of my house doesn't have any sheathing. That's why I am afraid that even if I open 12" around the windows and flash/tape them properly, the water can still get in via the defects in the building paper explained above. I have a feeling I'd need to remove all stucco, fix the paper, and then flash the windows to make this really work. Am I on the right track?
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:16 AM   #13
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


If you have repairs performed, one thing too keep in mind is that testing has demonstrated that conventional house wraps (such as Tyvek ) are not the best backings - and in fact may not be acceptable backings, from a performance standpoint - for conventional stucco, see for example:

Water Managed Wall Systems - Building Science Corporation

I mention this because I often see conventional housewraps used when performing such repairs.
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Last edited by Michael Thomas; 12-30-2010 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:28 AM   #14
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


deeonline,

I tried to send you a private message, but you are not set up to receive them. If this was not a deliberate choice, you might want to turn on PM in your user profile.
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:12 AM   #15
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Windows Leaking Nightmare


the problem with stucco and any housewrap or even felt for that matter is when the stucco bonds to it,using a 2 layer wrb system with felt on the outside is recomended with stucco not because the synthetics are deficiant,but rather the bonding issue

in this instance the op should be using ''water proof'' matierials to flash around the windows,not water resistant ones


Last edited by Tom Struble; 12-30-2010 at 08:26 AM.
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