Wood rot is caused by continued exposure to a combination of water and fungi and is often discovered during larger remodeling projects in bathrooms, attics, basements, laundry rooms, and around doors, windows and decking.
Few things are as troubling to homeowners as discovering it in their homes, because wood rot can lead to a bunch of nasty issues including unstable support posts and beams, as well as rotted floor, ceiling joists, and roof decking. Since wood is the most often used building material, it is critical to understand what causes wood rot and whether you should replace or repair it.
Having the interior and exterior of your home inspected annually is the best course of action to catch any early signs of wood rot. Prevention is overwhelmingly better than cure – the cost to replace rotted wood can run in the tens of thousands of dollars if left untreated.
Take measures to create a dry environment in and outside your home by being vigilant of the following causes of dampness:
- Missing cladding, flashing or roof tiles
- Seal all cracks around exterior doors and windows with caulk.
- Scrape away old hardened caulk, and replace it with fresh caulk.
- Have your gutters cleaned on a regular basis – at least twice a year—to prevent blockages that can lead to water running over the backside of the gutter and down the side of your home.
- Use a dehumidifier in any room of the house that is subject to high humidity.
- Install properly-sized exhaust fans in bathrooms to remove steamy air caused by hot showers.
- Ensure exterior windows and siding are repainted if paint is cracked or peeling.
- Sweep away any standing water on wooden deck boards as soon as the rain stops.
Repair or Replace?
Any soft wood damaged by wood rot is not salvageable and should be replaced as soon as possible to keep the rot from spreading and causing instability. If the wood is discolored but isn’t weak enough to allow a screwdriver to penetrate the wood, you can try treating it as a first step.
All leaks must be repaired and in some cases, a dehumidifier should be used. Then, once dry, a wood preservative containing copper or borate may be applied. Once any repairs are completed, monitor the wood since it is at increased risk for future rot.