Homeowners have a lot to think about in order to maintain their property and keep it looking nice. One creeping force that might go unnoticed for a long period of time is wood rot. It can hide on the interior and exterior of your home and it should be addressed immediately.
Review the main reasons why rotten wood is a problem, what causes it, as well as how to find and prevent water damage around your home.
Why Wood Rot Is a Danger for Your House
Wood rot is a problem for all types of homes in our climate. It presents a real danger for homeowners because it can silently spread throughout the inside and outside of the building.
Because of its ability to spread, wood rot must be treated and removed. Left untreated, rotting can cause more damage and become more difficult and expensive to eliminate. Wood rot in certain places can also compromise the structural integrity of a house. It’s important that all affected areas should be repaired as soon as possible.
Causes of Rotten Wood
The principle source of all wood rot damage is excess moisture. This can come from rainwater or moisture trapped up against the exterior of the house. On the interior, it may originate with a leaky pipe in the wall, bad ventilation or roof damage.
When water is left to sit, especially on bare or untreated wood, it becomes a breeding ground for fungi. The fungi growth can spread quickly into the pores and cracks of the wood. Rot eats away at the wood fibers as it travels.
How to Find Wood Rot Around the House
Wood rot can be a sneaky danger for any home. Look out for the telltale signs of water damage:
• soft sections of wood,
• brittle areas,
• deterioration or crumbling,
• damp feeling,
• moldy smell,
• peeling or cracked paint on the surface,
• watermarks on the wall or ceiling.
Here are some of the most common places where it can strike:
Rotten wood is more likely to be found on horizontal surfaces of the building. These include window frames. Rainwater has the opportunity to sit on window sills for more time than on other surfaces around the glass. Be sure to look around the frames of skylights too, on both the interior and exterior.
Check for rot by pressing with your hand or a screwdriver along the bottom of the window frame. Soft spots will indicate the presence of wood damage.
Because of heavy wear and exposure to the elements, the front door is a common target for wood rot. This includes the frame, threshold and kick plate. Inspect the lower portion of the door and frame thoroughly for spongy spots.
If you see discoloration below the eaves of your house, at the top of the inside walls, on the ceiling surfaces or near the fireplace, this may indicate rotting wood in the roof. You should also look for missing or folded shingles, damaged seals around the chimney or raised nails on the roof.
Points where you’re more likely to see wood rot include butt joints, fascia surfaces behind gutters and junctures between the siding and trim. Even small fissures in the siding allow water to enter and can be damaged by rot.
Remember, all homes, including those with vinyl or aluminum siding, have wood framing, trim and structural elements.
Wood on the interior of the home is also susceptible to rotting. In particular, you may spot signs of water damage are appliances like the washing machine or dishwasher. Look closely at the flooring around the water heater, kitchen sink, shower, bathtub and other bathroom fixtures.
Protect Your Home from Wood Rot
Don’t risk the possibility of losing home value because of rot damage. Take the following steps to keep rotten wood away:
Clean the Gutters
Leaking and overflowing gutters can do big damage to wood siding, trim and roofing. Be sure to maintain the gutters along the eaves of the roof and the downspouts along the sides of your house.
Trim the Landscaping
It’s best to leave a 1.5-foot margin around the outside of the house to avoid trapping excess moisture. Cut back bushes, flowers and tree branches so that the siding and roof are clear. Don’t let leaves or grass accumulate near crawl spaces, decks or the foundation. You should also avoid storing or leaning anything against wood siding.
Maintain Paint & Sealant
Exterior paint and sealant are the shell that safeguards the home from the elements. Maintain this protective layer in order to prevent water damage on wood siding, trim, door and window frames, as well as wooden structural components. Cover all sides of wood with paint or stain when building a deck or pergola.
Cut down on condensation inside the house. The kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room should all have adequate ventilation. Vents, fans and a dehumidifier can help dry out humid areas of the house and decrease the risk of rotting wood.