Although everything in your home may appear intact, wood rot may be lurking beneath the surface. The rapid pace at which wood rot destroys makes it vital to discover the issue as early as possible. Prompt treatment will help you avoid the need for major repairs or in extreme cases, even structural damage. A silent enemy of your home’s integrity, wood rot can spread and compromise your home’s structure. When you find it—attend to it as quickly as possible and be sure to fix it completely.
Three ingredients create the perfect environment for wood-destroying fungi to survive:
The food fungi thrive on is the wood itself, and air is readily available to the wood, so it’s important we keep moisture from penetrating our homes.
Three types of wood decaying fungi include:
1. Soft rot fungi—When wood gets wet, it can begin to decay and become soft, spongy, or discolored. Some soft rot fungi are difficult to detect.
2. Brown rot fungi—Pine, spruce, and fir are all soft woods, and when attacked by brown rot fungi, they become dark brown. When the infestation progresses, the wood can split across the grain and look like a checkerboard. Wood infested by brown rot fungi can become structurally weak within a short time period. The wood may become dry and powdery, giving the impression that it has rotted (also called dry rot). But it’s actually an infestation of brown rot.
3. White rot fungi—Wood takes on an off-white appearance when white rot fungi attack the lignin and cellulose in wood.
Lingering moisture in wood creates an environment where fungi can grow, causing the wood fibers to deteriorate. When water comes into contact with an unprotected wood surface for an extended period of time, the wood starts to rot. Moisture may accumulate due to rain or a major leak within your home and can become tremendously destructive. Keep an eye on these easy-to-spot places moisture can accumulate, causing them to be susceptible to wood rot:
- Window sills
- Outside doors
- Under sinks
Homes should be checked meticulously for wood rot once or twice a year in order to protect them from extensive damage. Preferably, make a wood rot inspection a regular part of your spring and fall home maintenance routine. At times, wood rot is easy to spot, and at other times, it’s hiding under cracked paint or below siding and needs to be uncovered in order to address it. Painted or sealed wooden home exterior surfaces can allow water to enter and result in rot.
Here’s what you will need to do a thorough inspection for wood rot:
- A screwdriver
- A flashlight
What to look for when looking for wood rot
- Damaged siding that could let water through
- Discolored wood
- Wood that is soft
- Brittle or crumbly wood
- Disintegrating wood
- Peeling paint surfaces that may feel damp, indicating a possible water leak behind the spot
Vulnerable areas to check for wood rot
- Your Home’s Exterior Doors—Check the door, frame, threshold, door jamb, kickplate, and trim. Look for soft, spongy sections. Use your screwdriver to verify the wood’s integrity.
- Your Deck—Inspect your wooden deck from above and below using your flashlight. Check for signs of rot throughout the deck as well as at the location where it attaches to your home—also called the ledger board. It’s a hot spot for wood rot if it wasn’t connected properly when it was installed. Avoid wood rot in your home’s structure under your siding due to moisture entering at the ledger board.
- Crawl Spaces—If you’ve never invested in crawl space encapsulation, your home could be prone to wood rot due to moisture under your dwelling.
- Your Roof—Grab your binoculars and do a thorough visual inspection of your home’s roof and the area just below the roofline. Look for
- Missing shingles
- Damaged shingles
- Raised nail heads
- Cracked seals around vent pipe and chimneys
- Discoloration on the fascia below the roof line
Check interior ceilings to verify you don’t see water spots on them, particularly on your top floor. Call professional roofers to assess any concerns. You’ll save money in the long run if you catch roof problems early.
Moisture can collect inside your home in hidden spaces and cause substantial damage over time. Check for moisture and wood rot in the following interior spaces:
- Wood Windows—Wood windows and window sills can be susceptible to wood rot. Since water sits on the sills, they can be the first to suffer wood rot. When rain consistently sits on a window sill, it wears paint away and water enters the wood. To inspect your window sills, press the wood to find soft areas. Your screwdriver can help you reach difficult spaces. If the wood punctures, it’s time to replace it promptly. When window sills suffer wood rot, the rot can sometimes spread up the window frame.
- Washer—Look under and behind your washer with a flashlight and verify there are no leaks.
- Dishwasher—Check the area under and around your dishwasher for moisture.
- Tubs and toilets—Use a flashlight to thoroughly inspect the areas surrounding your toilets and tubs.
- Sink cabinets—Clean out sink cabinets and run your hand over the surface of the bottom of the cabinet’s interior to verify it isn’t absorbing moisture.
- Hot water heater—Check the area that surrounds your hot water heater and replace your hot water heater as needed to avoid a leak or burst and flood.
- Ceilings—Use your binoculars and check ceilings for water damage. Look for any discoloration that could be created by leaks from the plumbing in the floor above.
We do complete and extensive wood rot repair for the Richmond, VA metro area. We handle projects from start to finish in a professional, reliable manner, ensuring high quality, long-term results at a reasonable price. Contact Dependable Home Services for a free consultation!