Hole in a stucco wall - does it need to be repaired?
June 25, 2017 8:07 AM   Subscribe

We have a low stucco wall that runs along the edge of our property. I noticed recently that it has a large-ish (softball sized) hole in it, about 6" from the end of the wall. The wall appears to be hollow inside. The hole is covered by a hedge, so is virtually invisible unless you're looking for it. This is in a warm, dry climate (Southern California). Structurally speaking, do we need to do something about this, or can we leave the hole as is without risking further issues?

The wall doesn't hold anything up, and looks like it has been there for a couple of decades.

If you suggest we do something about it - any suggestions as to what to do? Since it is hollow it isn't easy for us to pack the hole with stucco to plaster over it.
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I'd be surprised to learn that that isn't something's home. Check it out with a torch and a little camera and see whether that's a something you're comfortable having live nearby.

If not, the easiest way I can think of to make a reasonably durable plastered patch for a hole in a hollow wall would start with drilling four holes about an inch out from the edge of the big hole. Bend a couple of bits of fencing wire into giant staples that you feed into the big hole and poke back through the drill holes from the inside. Crimp the staples closed with a pair of angled pliers, then use them to retain a patch of wire mesh that will act as backing and reinforcement for your repair plaster.
posted by flabdablet at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2017

Structurally speaking, no. But, yeah, critters.

If it were me, I probably have a list of other things in the yard to fix that I'll attend to first.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:42 AM on June 25, 2017

Figure out why the hole got there.

If it's water intrusion this hole will keep coming back (and getting worse) until you solve the water problem.
Settling soil could also cause problems with walls. You might want to watch the wall during a rainstorm to see where the water goes.

If a teenager just popped a hole in the walk, well, then it's just cosmetic.
posted by littlewater at 9:31 AM on June 25, 2017

water intrusion

That's a point. How far up the wall is this hole? Could it conceivably be an actual drain?
posted by flabdablet at 9:46 AM on June 25, 2017

Nope, it is about 3' above the ground. Thanks for all the advice - we looked in and someone had been making their nest in there that we didn't want to encourage (squirrels, we already are overrun by them) so we will be sealing it. Thanks!

Also, very good points on figuring out the WHY of the hole - I'm sure that will be useful next time that I find a mystery hole!!
posted by arnicae at 1:11 PM on June 25, 2017

plaster was mentioned above, but patch needs to be something cementaceous(so it is waterproof). On a house the cement formula is critical, but for a fence, any concrete patch would probably work OK.
posted by H21 at 7:19 PM on June 25, 2017

Absolutely. To be clear, when I talked about plastering I was more thinking about the physical process of applying the repair stucco than its chemical composition.

Bathroom tile grout would work. It comes in conveniently small quantities for a repair like this and is available in assorted colours (not that you'd care too much about that behind a hedge). You could mix it with a bit of coarse sand if the texture's too different from the existing wall.

You'd want to make it up to a fairly stiff consistency so it doesn't just flop off the wire backing as you plaster it on; using several layers of wire mesh will help with that. Also, dampen the whole area thoroughly with a spray bottle a few minutes before applying the new cement, otherwise the old stucco will suck the water out of the new stuff before it's managed to set up properly.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2017

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