Q: I just heard about the problems with stucco homes. My house was built in 1992. I would like to know of someone who inspects for these problems.

A: There are two kinds of exterior finishes that people talk about when they talk about a stucco home. The first is a traditional stucco home that has a solid exterior wall of stucco. The stucco, which is strong like cement, would have been applied by a craftsman and would have gone on like a thick plaster on the exterior of the home.

A different form of stucco is called synthetic stucco or EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system). EIFS is a synthetic coating over a styrofoam backing.

Unfortunately, many homeowners have had problems with EIFS system. The main problem has been that the EIFS system can trap moisture between the EIFS system and the walls of the home. Over time this moisture can rot the walls of a home, and work its way into the interior of the home.

If you have EIFS on your home, you can call a home inspector and ask if he or she has training in inspecting EIFS homes. If he or she does, the inspector can take a look at your home and determine if there are any visible problems with the EIFS. Some inspectors use moisture meters and others will drill holes into the siding to determine the moisture level behind the siding.

You may want to make sure the inspector is ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) certified and has extensive experience with EIFS. You can find an ASHI-certified inspector through the association’s website (www.ashi.org).

Once you have an initial inspection to determine whether your home has had leaking, you should have the EIFS exterior coat inspected every six months to make sure there are no cracks in the siding, that all joints are sealed, and that all window and door areas next to the EIFS are properly sealed and caulked.

If you do not take care of your EIFS home, you could wind up with a serious mold problem, not to mention structural issues.

Feb. 28, 2001.