Wood rot is a natural process which plays an important role in the ecosystem. However, wood is the most common building material for homes, meaning it can be a real problem for homeowners.
As wood rots, it deteriorates and becomes weaker. This can cause structural problems for the home that can be very costly to repair. This post will explain the types of wood rot, how to detect it, home repairs for wood rot, and how to prevent wood rot through DIY home repairs and maintenance tips.
Types of Wood Rot
Wood rot is a type of fungal decay. There are different types of wood rot, but they all have one thing in common: the wood has become infected with a fungus that uses wood as a food source. Generally, the wood has to be damp and at the right temperatures to provide the ideal environment for one of these fungi to thrive.
With brown rot or dry rot, the wood is infected by a fungus that breaks down the cellulose in the cells of the wood. Over time, the wood will soften and eventually, it will fracture into cubed pieces. The optimum growth temperatures for the types of fungus that cause dry rot are between 65-90° Fahrenheit.
White rot, which is also commonly known as wet rot, is noticeable by the wood taking on a white or light yellow shade. Instead of attacking cellulose, the types of fungi that cause white rot break down the lignin in the wood. Along with the lightening of the wood’s color, wood that is infected with white rot can be identified by its spongy texture.
Detecting Wood Rot
Before you can do any DIY home repairs to get rid of wood rot, you have to be able to find it. Due to the fact that the wood needs to be damp to become vulnerable to wood rot, the areas of the home that are most likely to have a problem include bathrooms, kitchens, exterior doors, windows, laundry rooms, outdoor decks, roofs, basements and crawl-spaces.
Before you go to these areas to start looking for wood rot, you should find yourself a good flashlight and a screwdriver with a long handle. When you find a piece of wood that may be affected by wood rot, try to push the screwdriver into the wood. If the wood is firm, you don’t have a problem. If the screwdriver goes into the wood, you probably have wood rot.
Go to the areas that are at the greatest risk for wood rot and look for discoloration and the other signs of rotted wood. It is important to note that paint can hide wood rot. If you see a painted piece of wood that is in an area at risk for rot, test it anyway. If an area is not well lit, make sure to shine your flashlight on the wood to look for the signs of wood rot.
DIY Home Repairs for Wood Rot
If it is caught early enough, you can treat the wood to prevent the rot from spreading further. If you see discoloration but the wood is still firm, dry the wood out and use a wood preservative to kill the fungus. Doing so will help to prevent a future recurrence.
While it is possible to salvage the wood in some cases, you will want to keep it on your maintenance checklist. Once wood has been infected with a fungus, it will always be at a greater risk for wood rot. You should check it regularly to make sure the rot has not come back and to test the strength of the wood.
Wood Rot Prevention Home Maintenance Tips
Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to wood rot. If you want to make an effort to prevent wood rot, look for ways to eliminate the conditions that promote the growth of fungus. These DIY home repairs will help you prevent wood rot and avoid costly repairs.
Avoid Wood Rot by Cleaning Your Gutters
If your gutters get clogged and overflow, wood can be exposed to the dampness that will lead to wood rot. This is especially true for the area around the eaves on your roof.
Cleaning your gutters at least once a year will help you prevent wood rot and other types of damage to the home. You could also make this task easier by using a leaf blower and gutter cleaning kit to do the work from the ground.
Caulk Around Doors and Windows
Small cracks and gaps around door and window frames can allow water to seep down into wall. To prevent this, you should inspect around doors and windows and seal any cracks or gaps with caulk. If you already have caulk and it looks old, scrape it off and replace it with new caulk.
Control Moisture in Air is a Best Home Maintenance Tip
You may have some areas of the home where moisture in the air is a real problem. This is especially common in basements. When it comes to how to prevent wood rot, running a dehumidifier in these rooms can help. As an additional tip, you should consider adding exhaust fans to your bathrooms to remove steamy air after showers.
Avoid DIY Home Repairs With Deck Maintenance
Being outside, a deck can be at high risk for wood rot. If you see excess water sitting on the deck after it rains, sweep it away.
One of the best home maintenance tips for preventing wood rot is cleaning your deck with a power washer at least once a year. After you clean the deck, remove any excess water that has been left behind. Depending on the conditions, you will also need to refinish your deck once every few years.
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