Wood Rot: The Inconspicuous Threat

Author: Pacific Northwest Inspections Group, LLC   Date: 11-May-2018.   Category: Exterior, Structural   Add to Favorites 

 

Wood rot is not always easy to spot, yet it's (potentially) one of the most destructive threats to the well-being of a home.

Wood rot refers to decay caused by wood-hungry fungi and can be classified into two broad categories: Wet rot and dry rot. Both require moisture in order to develop, and although dry rot requires LESS moisture, the term "dry rot" is really a misnomer. The important thing for homeowners to understand is that wherever moisture meets wood is where rot can take hold. And if not remedied, wood rot (particularly the dry rot variety) can continue to spread, causing significant damage to the home and even its structure.

Here in the damp climate of the Pacific Northwest, exterior rot issues are fairly commonplace. But the sources of moisture leading to rot can be found both outside AND inside the house. On the exterior, damaged siding or roofing can allow rain to penetrate through to the underlying wood. Water can pool up in areas where vertical and horizontal surfaces meet, such as a deck next to an exterior wall. Failing caulking can allow water to seep behind window and door frames. On the interior side, a leaking pipe or damaged seal can lead to moisture under the floor or behind a wall. Even damp air combined with poor ventilation can create an environment conducive to the formation of wood rot.

Signs that indicate the possible presence of rot:

  • •Wood has become darker, has cracked, and/or is shrinking.
  • •Wood has become so soft that you can easily penetrate it with a screwdriver, or possibly even your finger.
  • •Growth resembling mushrooms, cobwebs, or cotton has formed on wood surfaces.
  • •Floors have areas of discoloration.
  • •The air in certain areas of the house smells damp and musty.

Despite these indicators, wood rot can still be difficult (if not virtually impossible) for the average homeowner to detect, particularly if it's hiding behind walls, ceiling, or floors. As such, the eventual discovery of damage due to rot can be quite the unpleasant surprise for many. For those planning on selling their home, having a prelisting home inspection performed by the professionals at Pacific Northwest Inspections, trained to locate signs of rot that might otherwise go unnoticed, can be beneficial in more ways than one come selling time. If rot is uncovered during the inspection, homeowners can, with help of a qualified dry rot repair contractor, have issues fixed BEFORE they're discovered by the buyer. This mitigates the possibility of the transaction being delayed (or nixed altogether!) and ensures that the seller gets full price for their home.

For home BUYERS, a home inspection is even more imperative. The last thing you want is to buy your dream home only to learn later that it's been badly damaged by rot!

Whether buying or selling, it’s always wise to contact Pacific Northwest Inspections and put any questions about the state of your home to rest.