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Wood Rot

Wood rot can compromise the structural stability of your home. Keeping your eyes open for the signs of rot can help you detect the problem in time.

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One of the reasons why waterproofing your basement or crawl space is always money well spent is the fact that moisture can cause all kinds of damage. Not only can it cause mold growth which can impact the health of your family, but it can also lead to wood rot that can eventually compromise the stability of your home. Let’s explore the most common questions about wood rot and its potential location in your home. 

rotting crawl space wood

What Is Wood Rot? 

Biologically speaking, wood rot is the natural process of the decay of wood. But from the homeowner’s point of view, it is a problem that can seriously impact the health of a home. If any wooden elements that are holding the structure of your house together have begun to rot, you have a serious problem on your hands. 

In most homes in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee, roof decking, support posts, and ceiling joists are usually made of wood. Since they play an important part in keeping the house structurally stable, they need to be protected against fungi that cause rot. To keep your home in tip-top condition, you need to understand everything about wood rot. 

Types of Wood Rot 

There are several types of wood rot that are caused by different kinds of fungi and have specific sets of destructive enzymes. Three types of wood rot are brown, soft, and white. 

Brown Rot 

Brown rot or dry rot appears on the surface of the wood. The fungi that lead to brown rot target the cellulose and destroy it. As a consequence, the wood begins to shrink and turn brown. It then becomes very fragile and breaks easily. This type of rot quickly spreads, and it thrives especially at a temperature of 65 to 90°F. 

Soft Rot 

Although the fungi that cause soft rot usually attack trees and logs, they can also cause significant damage in homes, should the conditions allow it. When the fungi attack the wood, it becomes discolored and fragile. In this case, the rot doesn’t spread so quickly; but eventually, the wood ends up looking like a honeycomb. This type of fungus thrives in cold and wet areas and temperatures between 0 and 110­°F. 

White Rot 

White rot fungi attack the lignin of the wood and leave behind moist, spongy, and soft wood. These come with a yellowish and whitish shade and thrive at temperatures between 65 and 90°F. Many types of enzymes can cause white rot, and some can cause immense damage (honey mushroom). On the other hand, some are completely harmless and even edible, such as Shiitake mushrooms. 

Signs of Wood Rot and Where to Look 

If you do not pay attention to the signs of wood rot, when you finally realize you have a problem on your hands, it might be too late. Instead of repairing the damaged elements, you may need to completely replace them. Therefore, remember these signs of wood rot and inspect your home at least once a year. There are several locations in your home that are prone to this kind of problem. For example, since fungi thrive in a moist environment, look at your crawl space and the attic first. Also, if you notice cracked paint on wooden beams, check under it. Here are the most common signs of wood rot in your home. 

Swelling and Discoloration 

In case there are air holes around your windows, the presence of moisture has probably led to rot development. Therefore, check your windows and pay attention to any swelling or discoloration. The best way to see if there is rot is to get a screwdriver and poke the siding around the window. If the screwdriver sinks into the wood like it is made of frosting, you definitely have a rot problem. 

Soft Wood 

In order to remain stable, your home needs to be supported by elements made of hard and firm wood. However, when the fungi attack the wood, it begins to soften and shrink. It can also become spongy and brittle, which is definitely not a trade of a good structure element. When your timber begins to rot, you need to replace the parts that have been impacted as quickly as possible, or soon you will have to replace the whole thing. 

Musty Smell 

One of the more obvious signs of rot is a musty smell. If your attic, basement, or crawl space has started to feel damp and has a musty smell, know that some parts of your home are rotting. Call area contractors to find the source of the smell and fix the problem. 

Mushroom-Like Growth 

Mushrooms can look rather harmless, especially because we can see them on our plates. However, if mushrooms have begun to grow on your timber, rest assured that rot has affected that part of the wood. 

Dust-Like Spore Patches 

When the fungi attack your wood, they can leave a trail of large patches of dust-like spores. These can be red, orange, or brown. Although sometimes they are not a sign of rot, they are always a sign of trouble, so call your local contractor as soon as you notice these patches. 

Wood Rot Prevention Tips 

Having to deal with rotten wood is definitely no picnic. In order to avoid this problem, use pressure-treated or decay-resistant lumber for the construction of decks. If you are making something out of wood, make sure you paint every side before you assemble it. When using wood, use rot-resistant wood such as redwood, mahogany, teak, cedar, or white oak. In addition, get rid of potential moisture built-up by regularly cleaning your gutters and using a dehumidifier in your home.  

Since rot-causing fungi thrive in humid places, it is important to waterproof your home and keep the moisture out. Contact AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists today and schedule a free inspection and repair estimate. Once our team has assessed your home, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re up against, and we’ll recommend the best solutions tailored to your specific repair needs. 

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