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Stucco-Over-Wood (Chimney "Box")
Tiny hairline cracks in stucco walls -- particularly at wood framed chimney "boxes" shown in the photos above -- can create a serious and expensive defect that remains hidden from homeowners and prospective buyers until it's too late. If the stucco crack leakage is allowed to continue without being sealed and repaired, underlying wooden components (sheathing and structural framing members) hidden behind the stucco will become water damaged and begin to rot due to a wood destroying fungus ("wood rot") that quickly decays the wood.

At first glance, the inside sheathing and framing shown in the left-hand photo above appears to be rotting.  We can see the telltale dark-stained wood, as well as white powdery efflorescence left behind by the water leakage into the chimney "box." 

However, upon closer inspection (CLICK on image to zoom in), we see that termites have also infested the decaying wood; a common occurrence as termites and other wood destroying insects zero in on rotting wood as a source of food or to nest.  The result is a potentially expensive repair due the fact that all of the stucco and wood sheathing will need to be removed to allow access to the damaged structural components for removal.

As a result, the owner of the seven-year-old home depicted in these photographs ultimately had to rebuild the entire chimney after the old one was removed.

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The digital photo above was taken by a Guardian® home inspector during a pre-purchase home inspection.

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