What to Do When Exterior Wall Leaks

We here at Accutech understand the disaster that water damage can be. Florida’s stormy summers are certainly cause for concern when it comes to your beautiful Sarasota home. Leaks from exterior walls can occur by several means. Holes, cracks, gaps and penetration in the walls can all lead to water leakage. Penetration in the walls includes cable wires or pipes that pierce the walls from the outside. Water will definitely find a way into your home if there are any flaws in the structure. Water damage is a serious issue for home owners and can cause great damage. You must correct the flaw immediately to avoid severe problems.

Testing for Exterior Wall Leaks

Exterior wall leaks are very serious. Aside from all of the rain your Florida home encounters, humidity is another way for moisture to seep through any flaw in your exterior finish. It is beneficial to do routine inspections of your own property to be sure none of the walls are compromising.

After each rainstorm, take a walk around your home inside and out. Inside you will be checking for any sign of unknown water. Outside, you will check for any section of the walls that look worn or that show any sort of blemish.  Doing this regularly can help prevent severe water damage. It is crucial to avoid water damage because once it makes its way into your home it can lead to things like mildew and mold. Mold allergies can quickly result. A scary thing is when you do not realize you have an exterior leak and the moisture continually builds up within your walls. If mold grows and exists without your knowledge you will be putting your and your family’s health at risk.

Another way to test for cracks and gaps in your home is to take a hose and spray at full force around your home from the outside. This resembles the harsh qualities of a hurricane or rainstorm. After simulating a storm, check thoroughly for water that made it inside.

What Causes Exterior Wall Leaks? 

Exterior wall leaks occur when there is a compromise in the structure. This can be from cracks in the stucco, weakened wood (for a wooden home), holes, or cable wires or pipes that have a gap between the fixture and the home. Any slight error in the exterior of your home leaves room for water to sneak in. Since your Sarasota home is located in a beautiful but hurricane-risk state, it is important to inspect your walls from the outside in to make sure they are functioning as they should be.

As a homeowner you should be checking for gaps between exterior faucets and the house, gaps between gas pipes and the house, and gaps between the air conditioning unit and the house. Gaps caused by dryer vents and light fixtures are major reasons for concern. Water can easily enter your home through these avenues.

Exterior cracks can be a source of water leaks as well. Cracks in the surface of the walls could be detrimental depending on how deep they go. The mortar under windows can often be compromised after years of existence. Heavy rains and harsh weather can cause cracks to form here. Wood homes vary from stucco/concrete homes. They are at risk for termites or wood rot. These things greatly weaken a home’s walls and can give way for water leaks which ultimately can lead to a whole host of other issues after water damage occurs.

Treatment of Exterior Wall Damage

There are a variety of ways to patch up these cracks, holes, and gaps. Often times you can fix a slight crack with a single application of caulk. It is applied by a caulk gun. The caulk acts as a filler or grout to the crack. Larger cracks will need several applications of the caulk as they will need a heavier, stronger seal. Another option is to fill the void with foam that is sprayed out of a can. This is typically done to correct cracks that are a little on the larger side. The foam comes in a spray can and is applied through a straw-like mechanism. It is specifically designed for this type of repair. The downside with foam is that it deteriorates quickly. It may need replacement as early as a year after application. The sunlight, even indirect sunlight, seems to ruin its effectiveness and decrease its strength.  There are other types of caulk that can be used that are more specific. For example there are kinds only meant for stucco homes. You can find a variety of caulks in hardware or paint stores.

After applying the caulk you will need to repair the newfound blemish on your home. The crack will be more noticeable than ever when it is filled so with that you will need to paint that part of the house to match the rest. Additionally, you should apply stucco for a near perfect appearance. These steps of course are cosmetic and do not affect the performance of the caulk or foam.

It is not uncommon to have gaps in your exterior due to fixtures including dryer vents, facets, porch lights, and gas pipes. These are just a few necessities that connect from the outside world and travel in through your wall to reach their destination. Again caulk comes in handy here as well. Applied with a caulk gun, caulk can easily fill small gaps in the exterior walls. Essentially you are just sealing up the fixture, no matter what it is. If installed properly you should not have an issue with outdoor fixtures. After years of wear and tear from being exposed to a variety of climates it is normal for the caulk to wear down. Reapplying caulk will do the trick to fix the problem.

Water damage from exterior walls can be a simple problem with a simple resolution. Small cracks can be easily repaired. Gaps between windows, dryer vents, cable lines and other miscellaneous fixtures are normal after a while and can be repaired. It is important to maintain the structure of your home by inspecting its walls.