Water damage and wood rot are huge threats to the stability and value of your residential property. And treating wood rot, once it has made a home in your house, is difficult and expensive. Like many home maintenance issues, prevention is the best protection. Spotting and treating wood rot is also an important first step in preparing to power wash the area.
Find out how to spot the signs of wood rot, where to look for this type of damage, and how to best prevent it.
What Is Wood Rot?
It is the spreading decay of wood material caused by the combination of water and fungal growth. The microscopic organisms that thrive in this moist environment destroy the wood as they grow and can transfer from one area of the structure to others. Some of the most common initial causes of wood rot are:
- Exposure to the elements and weather,
- Improper installation,
- Roof or siding damage,
- Clogged gutters,
- Cracked door frame or windowsill,
- Worn flashing,
- Sitting water around the foundation,
- Improper drainage around the house.
Why Do Homeowners Worry About Wood Rot?
acement of window units, doors, siding, and roofing material. Over time, the problem can spread and penetrate deeper into the structure of the residence causing more invasive damage. And if the source of the problem – a leaky roof, overflowing gutter, or a hole in the exterior – isn’t fixed, the problem will surely return. This is why wood rot should be dealt with as soon as possible, or prevented entirely.
Where Should I Look for Wood Rot?
Really, this hazard can strike any part of the house that is made of wood, both on the interior and exterior. But, like all fungi, it particularly loves places with poor air circulation that are often damp and dark. Here are some of its most common hiding spots:
- Window and exterior door frames,
- Lower part of sink cabinets and kitchen cabinets,
- Deck and patio structures,
- Kitchen, bathroom, and basement baseboards,
- In walls and behind drywall affected by flooding or leaky pipes,
- Near gaps in exterior siding or roof shingles,
- Attic joists and rafters,
- Under the eaves of the roof,
- Basement and crawlspace structures,
- Around bathtubs, showers, household appliances, and water heater.
What Are the Signs of Wood Rot?
As you go about your regular home improvement projects, always keep an eye out for signs of wood rot.
Whenever you spot cracks or holes in the home’s exterior, it should be cause for concern. Damaged siding, roofing, window and door frames – even those made of vinyl or aluminum – creates the opportunity for water infiltration. Not only does this lead to water damage, but it creates the perfect breeding grounds for wood rot fungus.
Look for signs of wood damage around the home. This comes in many forms: discoloration, shrunken size, cracks, and splintering. As rotting progresses, it breaks down the cellulose in the wood. This causes the wood to become soft and dark in color; it also gets smaller in size as the cellulose is consumed. With time, the material will lose its ability to hold together, leading to cracking and crumbling apart. At this point, the strength of affected timber has been compromised.
Fungal Growth & Spores
A cottony texture or a silky gray growth along the surface of wood is a clear sign of fungal activity. Spores may be visible as yellow, purple or white patches around the rotting area. In general, try to identify the symptoms of mold, mildew, and other fungal growth.
Smart homeowners know that they should trust their nose. Water damage, mold and wood rot give off a telltale odor. As the fungus spreads and breaks down wood into organic materials, it produces a musty, earthy smell. The smell of wood decay is more easily detected in areas that lack ventilation.
If you see signs of paint damage, it may be a sign that there is underlying wood rot. Pay attention to the surface of siding, frames, exterior doors, baseboards, flooring and drywall. Any bubbling, blistering, cracking, or flaking paint should be a warning for you.
Because water is a necessary ingredient for wood rot growth, any signs of extra moisture are worrisome. Humid rooms, such as the bathroom and laundry room, are more likely to be threatened by water damage and rot. Leaking pipes, appliances, or fixtures can be a source of wood damage. Excess condensation around windows can also lead to water accumulation, mold, and rot.
Finding termites and carpenter ants around your home is problematic for a number of reasons. First, because they cause wood damage and can infestations can be difficult to control. Second, insect activity indicates the presence of an opening in the house envelop which can also allow water infiltration. Third, the damage caused by these pests can create a new entry point for moisture and rot.
How Can Wood Rot Be Prevented?
Being aware of the possibility of wood rot and actively looking for wood damage is the first step in keeping this problem under control. Prevention, however, is the best way to protect your home. You can work to eliminate the threat by:
- Sealing windows and doors and replacing caulk when necessary.
- Installing awnings over windows and exterior doors to decrease the impact of precipitation.
- Keeping your gutters and downspouts clean to allow proper roof drainage and preventing ice dams.
- Utilize a dehumidifier or exhaust fan in rooms or areas of the house with a high moisture content.
- Increase ventilation throughout high-risk areas.
- Cleaning the exterior of the home and repainting siding regularly.
- Address exterior wood, paint, and roof damage immediately.
- Don’t allow rainwater or snow to accumulate or sit around the house exterior or on the deck.
- Maintain the landscaping and don’t allow leaves and debris to pile up around the house.
Protect Your Home With Help from Trotta’s
Trotta’s Power Washing is your local partner for home maintenance tasks. Ask about our convenient and affordable residential services: pressure washing, wood restoration, and interior and exterior painting. Call Trotta’s today at (330) 940-3705 or request a free quote.