Wood, a popular building material due to its structural abilities, is an excellent insulator, can be easily painted, stained or varnished, and its classic look brings genuine beauty to homes. Its one downfall is its potential to rot or decay. When the conditions are accommodating, the wood in your home begins to rot. Once rot begins, the wood rot continues as long as the favorable conditions are present: wood, oxygen, and moisture. Because wood in your home has ample access to oxygen, the only part of the equation homeowners can proactively address is the moisture part.
It’s important to identify wood rot and decay early in order to prevent the need for major repairs. Although it can be easily seen some places (such as a deck or window sill), wood rot can also be lurking in hidden areas of your home as well, such as under sinks, under vinyl siding, in your wood window frames, or on window sills.
How to identify the early signs of wood rot
Take time to inspect your home each spring and fall for the possibility of wood rot so you can stop it in its tracks if it is present. Look carefully anywhere moisture may enter the wooden aspects of your home. Use a flashlight to see clearly under sinks and under decking surfaces. Use binoculars to inspect your roof and gutter areas (from the safety of the ground). Keep an eye out for early signs of wood rot and wood decay such as:
When siding integrity is compromised and water gets through, wood rot can lurk below the siding. Vinyl siding can have wooden framing, plywood and trim that are hidden, and although the wood is hidden, it’s still susceptible to wood rot and decay.
Damaged window sills
When wood rot begins to infest wooden window sills, paint peeks up and cracks open the wood, making it vulnerable to absorbing moisture, causing unwanted rot.
Wood should be consistent in its color. If you find discolored wood in your home, investigate for the possibility of wood rot.
Wood that is soft
Wood should never be soft when you press on it. During your spring and fall inspection for wood rot, use a screwdriver to press on the wood in your home and make sure there are no soft spots which indicate wood rot.
Wood that is brittle, crumbly or disintegrating
If wood disintegrates when you touch it, you’ve got wood rot and it needs to be repaired immediately.
Peeling paint surfaces
When you have painted surfaces in your home that feel damp, that indicates a possible water leak behind the damp spot, and wood rot could be hidden and spread from that location.
If you find any of the above in your home, attend to it immediately to prevent any additional damage to your home’s structure. Protect your home, your biggest investment, with preventative measures such as repainting or restaining and finishing wooden structures like siding, window frames, window sills, and decking. Keep the areas under the sinks in your home dry to prevent hidden wood rot.
How to keep moisture from penetrating your wood and causing unwanted wood rot.
1. Protect your home exterior
Inspect your home exterior for any paint chips and repaint the area in which you’ve found them. Any cracks in your paint can open up your home exterior to water penetration and cause unwanted wood rot. A fresh coat of paint adds a protective layer to your home exterior, preventing water from penetrating the wood and preventing wood decay. A painted home exterior obviously gets wet in the rain, but the paint shields the wood beneath it from the water and keeps fungus from destroying the underlying wood.
2. Prevent standing water from penetrating your home
Any standing water can cause wood rot, so prevent standing water from infiltrating your home interior and exterior.
3. Let air flow freely
Excellent airflow allows your home exterior to dry faster after a rain storm, and the quicker things dry, the less likely you are to have wood rot. Walk around your house and inspect areas where landscaping may brush up against your home. Trim back bushes, shrubs, and trees so they don’t contact your home exterior, allowing for a free flow of air to quickly dry your home exterior after the rain. It’s much easier to prevent wood rot than it is to repair a damaged home due to wood rot.
Common areas vulnerable to wood rot
- Wooden window frames
- Exterior doors
- Flooring around your home’s water heater
- Areas surrounding your washer and dishwasher
- Bathroom sinks
- Toilet and tub areas
- Decks and where they attach to your home exterior
- Roof and the area just below the roof line
- Seals around your chimney, vent pipes, and facia
- Maintain gutters
- Replace windows with vinyl or fiberglass
- Replace siding with James Hardie® siding
- Add coverings over your home’s entryways
- Add overhangs to your roof
- Vent your home well to keep it dry
- Decrease humidity in the home
- Seal your home regularly with fresh caulking
- Protect your home with a fresh coat of paint
- Prevent water leaks
Got wood rot? We can help
Dependable Home Services provides Richmond, Virginia homeowners with sound solutions to wood rot damage. Our qualified team resolves your home’s problems with expertise so you can have peace of mind and enjoy your home again. Homeowners get:
- A clear and honest evaluation of their project
- All our work is guaranteed, leaving customers satisfied
- A positive contractor experience
Ready to protect your biggest investment?
Protect your home—your biggest investment—and increase your home value with new siding, crawl space encapsulation, or new exterior paint. Give Dependable Home Services a call to schedule a free consultation, and in the meantime—check out our recent projects to help pinpoint your specific desires in your home exterior upgrades. We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners transform their home into a place they enjoy while increasing its value.