IDENTIFYING AND TREATING WOOD ROT
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Stealthy and sometimes undetectable, rot is one of the most
damaging predators to which a home can fall victim. Solid
lumber can turn to pulp with the simple recipe of adding
moisture and warmth. Rot occurs in even the sturdiest of
homes - wherever wood is found, there is potential for fungal
growth and the resulting rot. But rot need not be a deal
breaker – rot is common and often a minor issue that can be
easily (and inexpensively) corrected.
What causes wood rot? Most wood, unless specially
treated or of certain rot-resistant varieties, is vulnerable
to moisture. Most houses use lumber in their construction, so
the threat of water damage is impossible to avoid. Any wood
that is exposed to air will naturally contain a small
percentage of water. It's when normal moisture levels in wood
increase that deterioration and rot become a risk.
Fungus spores that are everywhere will blossom if fed enough
water and will eventually become visible. Repairing
rot-damaged wood cannot be put off as it will only spread as
time goes on. Once the fungus growth begins, homeowners can
easily identify the two main types of wood rot. In one
variety, the wood will have spots of decay that appear brown
and crumbly, and will break apart into cubes when disturbed.
Another type is yellowish in color, with the decayed wood
becoming soft and stringy. Surface molds can be confused with
rot; these molds or mildews simply grow on the surface of wood
but do not break down the fibers or cause any structural
all areas of a home, pay particular attention to joints, which
are slower to dry, and any wood that touches dirt or masonry.
The amount of damage that's been done determines the scope of
repairs. If a structural element has been affected, we would
recommend repairs/reinforcement or complete replacement. Hire
a Professional Engineer to determine the amount of structural
damage to the home and to develop a repair plan that is
effective and cost efficient.
Usual areas of damage. In our 16 years of
experience as building inspectors in Pennsylvania, we've
learned that the following six areas of a home are the usual
suspects for the first signs of fungus growth or wood rot:
1. Attic and roof space - Roof leaks are common causes
of water damage. In the attic especially, the damaged area
may be away from the source of the leak as water often easily
travels through the roof framing/sheathing to a point of
collection. Look carefully for any evidence of water running
down beams or a dripping roof. If you see damage on the
underside of the roof, exterior rot is also likely.