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elviento 12-11-2007 11:49 AM

Stucco humidity problem. Help!

I am buying a 1920s tudor single family house in Westchester NY, and several larger patches on the northwall had very high humidity readings on the little humidity meter (70%-90%, in the red zone). Wall surface is stucco. The kitchen sink faces that wall and the 2nd floor bathroom drain should be right along that wall as well.

My question is: what's the likely reason? could it be a leaky pipe? Is opening the wall the only way to find out? Should I replace stucco with something else going forward? How about costs? Something like this, does it sound like a major major issue, or not that big a deal? I am signing the contract this week, so would apprecaite some input. Thanks.

glennjanie 12-11-2007 03:17 PM

Welcome Elviento:
The north wall doesn't get any sunshine in the winter and would naturally be damp especially in a masonry house and if the heat has been off for a while. Turning the heat on will dry it out quickly.
Merry Christmas Elviento

inspectorD 12-11-2007 07:18 PM

You need help...
Get a professional to look at it now. A good home inspection can help to get solutions. I know this from years of experience that ALL situations are different.
Is it a crawl space underneath, is the flashing missing somewhere, balloon framing is typical of this era home, was it insulated, is there a vapor barrier or moisture barrier. They both do different things.
This is building science, not to scare you but you need to be informed about what is happening by a professional looking at your issue. You may have serious structural issues and not even know. Get an extension on the contract, or don't buy it. I have seen to many folks buy something they did not know what they were getting into, then spent tens of thousands to fix what they thought was a decayed window.
Good luck. Buyer beware.

I love my job.:D

ToolGuy 12-11-2007 08:38 PM

Glenn and D both make good points and observations. I'd like to add that the house has been standing since the 20's. Check the inside for any cracks or shifted doorways or misaligned windows, tilting floors - all sure signs of structural movement. This may also be a sign of uneven settling, as it is an old house. If you can see the sill plates or basement ceiling joists, look for mosture stains or damage.

Also consider if you plan to remodel the kitchen and bath, as new owners often do, then you'll probably be opening that wall anyway.

My guess is it's likely what Glenn says, that it's because it's a north wall. But it's too big an investment to ignore even the slightes possiblitiy of a potentially serious problem. With these thoughts in mind, get an evaluation from an independent inspector (ie, not working for the bank or the realtor) and get some realistic answers to what is the cause of the moisture, and determine for yourself how serious a matter it is.

Let us know, okay? And welcome to the forum! :D

elviento 12-12-2007 10:42 AM

Thanks for the input guys. I did hire an experienced inspector (he has done this for 20 years), and he said he can't find out more unless the wall is opened.

The seller is not willing to let you open the wall w/o a contract. I am thinking of setting aside a portion of the purchase price in escrow to cover any costs related to the north wall. The house is a decent deal and I'd like to make it work.

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