Wood Rot In A House

How do you fix wood rot in a house?

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Many homes have wood rot, but few realise how serious it can be if left unchecked. Rot can slowly eat away at your home, increasing energy bills and decreasing its value. This is why every homeowner should know how to repair rotten wood.

    Wood rot often goes unnoticed until it's too late.

    Leaky windows or cracking sills indicate wood rot around windows and an escalation of the problem. Here's how to prevent wood rot before it destroys your window sills or foundation.

    Wood rot is often unexpected. During roof shingle replacement, the roofer may notice rotted decking, rafters, or ridge board.

    You're painting an exterior window sill or trim board and notice the wood is soft. Worse is when basement or crawlspace beams and joists rot.

    Wood rot can weaken your home's structure if left untreated. A home with significant rot will lose resale value, so take action.

    At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer timber repairs work from simple timber repair to almost new structures, renovations, and extensions.

    What is Wood Rot

    Leaks, mould, mildew, and insects cause exterior wood rot. Instead of painting over rotting wood, focus on eliminating the problem. A paint job won't fix wood rot; only professional replacement will prevent further structural damage.

    Decks, roofs, window frames, and exterior doors often rot. Moisture that encourages fungi growth causes wood to deteriorate. In the ever-changing climate, wood rot is inevitable without proper maintenance.

    Wood Rot In A House

    What Causes Wood Rot?

    Moisture rots wood. Windows are designed to withstand and protect your home from weather, but improper window or siding installation, poor roof replacement or roofing damages, or gutter issues can lead to water seeping into your window sills.

    Flashing protects window frames from moisture and leakage, allowing water to drain over the top. If the flashing is damaged or missing, water sits on the window casing and enters the frame. Undrained water can leak into the house's walls or posts, causing even more damage.

    Carpenter ants, termites, and other bugs love cool, damp areas. When these critters eat your woodwork, you may need professional help. If you treat the infestation quickly, you'll prevent wood damage.

    Pests and water cause wood rot around windows, vents, and doors. This problem can affect any room with wood trim. Still, many window frames are made of wood and exposed to moisture, making them rot-prone. Water can also seep through siding away from windows, causing similar problems.

    Wood rot can go unnoticed for years. When you notice an infestation or wood rot, it may be too late to intervene. You may need to replace your windows, remove the sill and frame, replace the siding, or make structural changes.

    If you're worried about wood rot in your windows, siding, or doors, check for early signs.

    Knowing the Signs of Wood Rot Around Your Home

    We recently helped a homeowner with wood rot in newly-replaced doors and windows. When we arrived to replace their door and windows, we noticed some paint peeling and chipping in the corner (very minimal). A faulty gutter with multiple seams and a poorly constructed flat rubber roof were causing water to pool. Behind the siding, water leaked into the frame. Carpenter ants eating rotting wood exacerbated the problem. With so much rot, we were surprised the roof corner was still standing.

    How to fix wood rot

    Wood siding or trim exposed to the elements is prone to rot. The longer wood is exposed without proper care, the greater the chance of damage. Before painting, replace rotten wood. Wood rot spreads quickly and causes irreversible damage to your home's structure. Experienced painters should be able to identify and repair wood rot quickly, removing all rotting wood and its traces to prevent recurrence. After replacing the wood, protective paint can improve the area's appearance and longevity. After wood repairs, your home's exterior should be sealed with a long-lasting sealant, then primed and painted.

    Where to Inspect for Dry Rot & Wood Rot

    Armed with an awl or a small screwdriver, inspect locations where rot often gains a foothold. Use the tool to poke into areas that are suspects (blistered or soft) to see how extensive the rot is. Rot is likely to occur in:

    • Exposed framing in a basement or crawlspace
    • Exterior window sills and door thresholds
    • Exterior window and door casings (trim)
    • The underside of roof decking (if accessible from the attic)
    • Roof framing (if accessible from the attic)
    • Fascia (trim to which gutters are often attached) and rake boards (trim on the gable end of a roof)

    A solid roof can help prevent dry rot damage.

    Quit rotting! Without excess moisture, rot can't spread. Preventive measures include well-maintained gutters and reduced window moisture.

    Most dry rot prevention strategies start with the roof. If your roof is damaged and your gutters are clogged or misaligned, water can flood your home and soak your foundation (which can also allow water to seep into your home). First, make sure your roof is leak-free and well-maintained. As a national roofing contractor, we offer comprehensive services, including roof repairs.

    We know the roof is more than a weather barrier. Your home exhales there. A properly vented roof expels much of the water vapour that builds up in the home and helps keep building materials dry.

    Vent openings are usually along the roof's ridge and soffits. Continuous roof vents maintain airflow.

    Warm, humid air rises through ridge vents and is replaced through soffit vents.

    Convection, or the "stack effect," draws replacement air from lower-level wall cavities and the basement. The stack effect reduces indoor humidity.

    Check out our range of timber repairs Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions.

    Simple Steps to Repair Rotted Wood on Your Home

    Remove the Rotted Area

    Before you can begin repairing the areas of your home that have been damaged, you will first need to make sure that any rotten pieces are removed. This operation is very simple and can be completed with the help of the clawed end of a hammer. You will be able to remove the rotten wood from the base of the rot by using the claw to apply pressure to the hammer as you pull back towards yourself.

    This will allow you to bring the hammer closer to yourself. Be sure that you are only scraping away the rot, and that you are not causing any damage to the healthy wood that is underneath. The amount of rot that needs to be removed is the single most important factor that will determine how long it will take you to finish this task.

    Patch Area with Epoxy

    After sanding away the last of the rot and applying a wood restorer to the affected areas, paint a bonding agent over the exposed wood. This step comes after treating the affected areas with a wood restorer. This will make it easier for you to fill in the area that was removed and will help fill in any gaps that may have been present in the wood. If the rotted area is small enough that you do not need to replace it with wood, one method that can be used is to make a replacement out of a mixture of 2-part epoxy.

    This can be done by following the instructions for the epoxy. You can achieve pinpoint accuracy when dispensing the epoxy into the required areas if you do so with the aid of a gun applicator. After the epoxy has had sufficient time to cure, you can mould it into the desired shape by scraping away the excess with a putty knife.

    Sand and Paint

    You can begin the process of making the new section match the wood that was there before once the epoxy has had a chance to sit for at least 24 hours. This will allow the epoxy to fully cure. Sand down any of the remaining epoxies in order to ensure that all of the edges are flush with one another. When you are satisfied that the hole has been patched, you can apply a new coat of primer to the affected area, and then paint the surface in a colour that better suits your preferences.

    It is important to keep in mind that if wood rot is affecting a larger area of your home than just a few small sections, you might need to completely replace those sections of your home. One of the most helpful things that can be done for a house that has ongoing rot problems is to replace all of the door and window frames.

    Steps to Dry Rot Cleaning and Repair

    Remove Damaged Wood

    All wood that shows decay or visible fungus should be removed, as well as all wood within one meter of the visible decayed material.

    Remove Materials Near Damage

    Plaster, panelling, linings, and ceilings around the dry rot areas can also contribute to the damage and should also be removed.

    Wire brush Affected Area

    Using a wire brush, loose material is removed from all surfaces within 1.5 meters of the furthest edge of the infestation, including metal, masonry, and pipes. Resulting dust and debris is removed as well.

    Disinfect Area

    A disinfectant is applied to all wood, masonry, and exposed soil in within 1.5 meters from the damage.

    Rebuild

    Substantially rot-damaged beams, joists, and posts are replaced with pressure-treated wood.

    Preventing Dry Rot in a Basement

    Remove all standing water sources, then install a plastic vapour barrier on the walls and floors. Install a self-draining dehumidifier powerful enough to dry the area. (At least a 100-litre model)

    Preventing Dry Rot in a Crawl Space

    Seal off all crawl space vents and door covers. Encapsulate the crawl space with a crawl space liner, then install a self-draining crawl space dehumidifier.

    We have a wide range of Melbourne timber repairs for your home renovations. Check out Hitch Property Constructions.

    Minimizing Wood Rot Repairs Around Your Home

    Spend less! Wood-destroying fungi eat wood cells, causing wood rot or decay. When you repair wood rot, you remove the fungi and replace or repair the damaged wood. More damage will occur until the fungi and their conditions (moisture and temperature) are gone.

    New window needed for wood rot repairs. Many homeowners don't realise that exterior paint protects wood from water damage. Weather-beaten wood trim on your home is prone to wood rot. If you don't paint often enough, water gets into the wood, where it can support wood-eating fungi and carpenter ants.

    Avoid this issue. Often, homeowners must replace windows, doors, or siding. If you don't fix the root cause (gutters, roofing, framing, etc.), the problems will likely return. At the first sign of wood rot, act quickly.

    Check your windowsills and frames for wood rot. Cracks or degraded areas? Holes or crumbling wood are problems.

    Look for mildew. Most windows collect condensation on the inside. Dehumidifiers, fans, and ventilation can prevent condensation. Condensation on windows can cause wood rot. Condensation between windowpanes indicates a failed seal.

    Running water causes wood rot around windows, doors, and siding. It's time to investigate dripping gutters, bubbling paint, or a damp window frame. Improper flashing, older siding, and leaky gutters cause water to pool under your house's trim. Your home should never leak water.

    Carpenter ants or termites indicate wood rot. Ants in the house indicate a hole. Follow the visitors' source and solve the problem. Ants can damage your wood trim before you realise it.

    If you see a discoloured spot, press it with a pencil, pen, or object. If it's soft, there's likely water damage and rot underneath.

    If homeowners spot the signs early, the fix is usually easy. You may need to fix a gutter, flashing, or exterminate pests. Urgently fix the problem. Wood rot shouldn't be ignored.

    Wood rot in one window or spot is rarely an isolated case, so be vigilant. Call us if you see any decay. Not now!

    FAQs About Wood Rot

    One of the main differences between wet rot and dry rot is that wet rot needs a higher moisture content to grow. Wet rot fungus likes to grow on timber with a high moisture content of around 50% and above while for dry rot to grow it will germinate at a lower timber moisture content of around 20% to 30%.

    Image result for How can you tell the difference between wet rot and dry rot?
    Typical indications of dry rot include: Wood shrinks, darkens and cracks in a 'cuboidal' manner (see picture) A silky grey to mushroom coloured skin frequently tinged with patches of lilac and yellow often develops under less humid conditions. This 'skin' can be peeled like a mushroom.

    Wet rots have a very distinctive look and feel. The appearance of wet rot will be that of a black, brown or white fungal occurrence that has a musty smell. Wet rot is usually soft and spongy to the touch and can easily be pressed in with a finger even through several coats of paint.

    Because dry rot can spread quickly through wood and even porous masonry, it's incredibly important to eliminate all stages of dry rot fungus immediately. The most effective way to do this is to remove and replace all affected wood, and treat the timber in close proximity with a fungicide.

    It is recorded in laboratory culture experiments that spores can germinate between 7-10 days following suitable wetting; this may take longer if the spores are older. However, it appears that in practice under field conditions it often takes some considerable time before rot becomes noticeable.

    Scroll to Top