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Tips for Preventing and Repairing Wood Rot

Wood rot can eat away at your home’s wooden structures, which is why you should be proactive when signs of rotting wood pop up in your home.

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An important decomposition process in nature, wood rot is what transforms fallen logs into soil. However, wood rot is not something you want to find in your home. Wood rot is caused by both water and fungi, which include as many as five million different varieties of microscopic organisms. In order for fungus to grow, wood must be continuously damp. This makes water damage and leaks the major causes of wood rot in your home, as wood rot does not affect dry wood. Keeping your home effectively waterproof – whether it be by crawl space encapsulation or sealing cracks in your foundation – is the key to preventing wood rot from growing on your home’s wooden structure.  

Where to Check for Wood Rot 

Living in the South, your home is susceptible to wood rot due to heavy rainfall and humidity. You can use the tools you have at home, such as a flashlight and a screwdriver, to check your home for wood rot. There are several different places in your home that you can check for signs of wood rot, including: 

mold behind corner in a basement
  • Walls and Floors: Many floors and trim along your walls are constructed of wood. You should check areas around walls and floors where water may be prevalent, such as in your bathroom or kitchen. If you notice any discoloration or mold in these areas, then you likely have wood rot. Your bathroom and kitchen walls are especially susceptible to wood rot, because they are constantly exposed to moisture. 
  • Attic: Faulty gutters and leaky roofs can cause water to leak into your home’s attic. This water not only damages the personal belongings you have stored in the space, but the wood in your attic is also at great risk for wood rot. Living in areas with heavy rain and humidity, such as the Southern United States, can cause attics to become areas where moisture seeps in through cracks and voids. You can use your flashlight to highlight the wood in your attic and your screwdriver to check for mushy spots in the wood.
  • Windows and Doors: Both windows and doors are places where both water and humidity can enter your home. If your windows are not properly sealed by caulk, then rain is likely to seep in and damage your wooden windowsill. In areas like Alabama, where rain can be frequent during certain periods of the year, consistent rainfall can keep your windowsill damp, causing the wood to grow fungi that will start to cause it to rot.  
  • Wooden Siding: While wood siding is durable and capable of lasting a long time, it is particularly susceptible to wood rot. This is because the siding of your house is constantly exposed to the elements, especially rain, snow, and humidity. You should be checking your siding for signs of wood rot, such as window discoloration and swelling. Cosmetic bandages, like paint, can hide wood rot on the surface of the siding. To check your siding for wood rot, you should use the tip of your screwdriver to press into the wood. If the screwdriver pierces the wood, then your home’s siding is experiencing wood rot. 

How to Prevent Wood Rot 

crawl space dehumidifier and encapsulation
  • Install a Dehumidifier: You can prevent wood rot by hiring a foundation waterproofing expert to install a dehumidifier in your crawl space or wherever there is excessive moisture. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the room, while also helping you conserve energy. In addition to preventing wood rot by keeping your wooden structures moisture free, dehumidifiers also help prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors.  
  • Assess Your Roof: Due to voids and cracks in your home’s roof, moisture can seep into your home’s attic. You can stop this by routinely checking your roof for any damage that may or may not allow water inside your home. Any cracks or damage found should be immediately remediated by a roofing professional.
  • Fill in Cracks: Check your home for any voids or cracks, especially your home’s foundation, crawl space, and attic. You should also check for cracks in your windows and doors that may be letting moisture and humid air inside your home. These cracks should be sealed with caulk to effectively seal the crack and stop water from seeping through. Contact our foundation repair professionals to fill in cracks and voids around your home. 
  • Repair Damaged Gutters: Damaged gutters cause water to flow onto your house. This leads to water saturating your home’s wooden siding, as well as permeating through the wood in your attic or crawl space. Water damage from broken gutters contributes greatly to wood rot your home, making it important to repair any cracked, sagging, or improperly sloped gutters. 

How to Repair the Damage 

Not a problem that you can just ignore, wood rot should be taken care of as soon as you realize your home is suffering from it. Wood rot can quickly spread to other wooden structures in your home, weakening the foundation. If you have evaluated your home and discovered wood rot, it is time to come up with your repair plan. While you can fix some cases of wood rot on your own, it is best to hire a professional that specializes in repairing rotten wooden structures. In order to fix the wood rot on your own, the wood must still be a little stiff with minimal damage. A minor case of wood rot can be solved by drying the wood and treating it with borate or glycol. However, wood that has been severely affected by rot should be taken care of by trained professionals, as the foundation of your home is at risk.

Contact our foundation and waterproofing experts for a FREE, no-obligation inspection of your home. 

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