Moisture problems in newer synthetic stucco homes are well known and moisture testing when buying or selling them has become almost standard. Although older homes don't usually have the same moisture problems found in newer homes, this doesn't mean moisture issues are not sometimes happening. However, moisture problems in older homes are usually confined to specific areas.
Clients buying their first home recently had moisture testing done on an older stucco house built in the 1930's. Their general inspection raised concerns in a few areas and they decided to have it checked by a moisture specialist…most of the time homeowners are completely unaware of moisture intrusion.
When I arrived on a snowy afternoon I planned to take pictures of Certified Moisture Testing probing the stucco but they were so efficient they were almost done and we spent our time inside speaking with the lead professional while his associate finished up the testing…hence the 'summer' picture to the left of their moisture probing.
They test primarily by probing the exterior because most moisture found in a home is caught between the sheathing and cladding on the exterior side of the wall cavity and exterior testing doesn't breach the vapor barrier on the interior side of the wall cavity. The most common method is drilling two small holes (3/16" diameter) about an inch apart..much like a snake bite…to measure moisture levels and check for damage.
Based on a national survey of moisture issues, 80% are found in window areas and 10% are caused by missing roof flashings (responsible for 30% of the damage). Both were potential areas of concern for my clients. While testing showed some areas for potential improvement, it did not reveal any roadblocks to proceeding with their purchase.
My clients said it was money well spent for peace of mind on their biggest investment…and the home where they expect to live for a long time.