Updated May 10, 2021
Home repairs can cause stress and heartache for any homeowner.
While it’s natural to want to look the other way when you see a potential issue, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach often allows defects to worsen and, ultimately, become more costly to repair.
Especially when it comes to wood rot.
What is Wood Rot?
Wood rot is the deterioration of wood due to the growth of fungi. These fungi eat up the structure and integrity of the wood, leaving it weak and vulnerable.
Why Fix It?
Spending the money to replace rotted wood can be frustrating because doing so doesn’t always add “cosmetic” value. Most wood will be hidden behind walls or underneath floors, never to be seen. But, even if you can’t see the damage, it’s still critical to take care of it quickly. Here’s why:
Your Structure Could Fail
Wood rot in your pergola outside might not be life-threatening, but rot in your floor joists and framing could be. If wood rot in these places advances to the point of failure, you could find your living room furniture sitting in the basement.
Your Home Sale
If you are selling your home now or may in the future, wood rot could eat away at your resale value. Inspectors will be searching and buyers will be wary if they find your home isn’t safe. In fact, it’s one of the top inspection repairs we make at PunchList.
It Could Be Affecting Your Health
While actual wood rot fungus isn’t harmful to health, the presence of rot could point to a larger problem. Wood rot isn’t the only fungus that thrives in moisture, and much more dangerous things could be growing alongside it.
How to Find It
Locating wood rot before it gives out can save you money down the road. Wood rot can be spotted easily if you look for a few key clues and engage your senses.
Look at the Color
The color of healthy wood should be pretty uniform. When wood becomes rotted, it will start to darken in color. Compare wood to healthy pieces to decide if it’s headed down a dark path.
Check the Texture
Even if the wood is painted and you can’t see the color, you can check the health of your wood by the texture. Rotted wood will feel softer than it should and will have a squishing quality when you touch it. When dry, rotted wood will also flake and crumble.
Find a Smell
Smelling your wood might seem odd, but it can be an easy way to identify rotting wood. Instead of the “nature woodsy” smell, rotted wood will give off a musty, damp odor.
Check for Fungi
The most glaring evidence of wood rot fungus is the actual fungus itself. If you see any growth, it might be time to change out the wood.
Get it Inspected
If you see any of these signs, get your home inspected by a professional. They will be able to fully determine the damage done and the repair needed.
How to Treat It
Once you’ve identified rotted wood, your next steps are simple. While you might wish to just paint over the problem, taking the proper precautions is important.
Find the Source of Moisture
Wood rot fungus begins to grow due to a moisture source. That moisture seeps into the wood, beginning the rotting process. To save your wood and prevent more rotting in the future, find the source of moisture and get it fixed.
Repair Small Areas
If the rotted wood is only a small part of a structure, the infected area might be able to be repaired. Fill in small gaps with wood filler and remove and replace larger portions with new wood. Make sure to get fungi treatment applied to all new areas and the parts that you didn’t replace.
Replace the Damage
If wood rot gets to a certain point, or it is in an important structural place, like a floor joist or beam, the entire area might have to be removed and replaced. If the integrity and strength of the wood are damaged to a point that it can no longer support the home’s structure as intended, get professionals to swap out your damaged wood with fresh and safe replacements.
Preserve Your Home’s Value
While it might be more fun to spend money on new countertops or a stylish wall hanging, spending those dollars on your home’s structure will be much more beneficial – and work to preserve its value.