Home Tips: Repair Wood Rot

Serious Wood Rot
Serious Wood Rot

Wood rot is a huge problem for busy homeowners who defer home maintenance. While most problems start out small, moisture in wood can travel in all directions requiring costly repairs.

How does wood rot happen?

Wood rot occurs when there is wood and moisture. The wood acts as a source of food for different types of fungus and the moisture enables the fungus to break down the wood. Preservatives, i.e. like those used in "pressure treated" wood, will help to preserve the wood but even pressure treated deck posts buried two to three feet in the ground will rot.

Wood rot is most commonly found in areas of a home that have more exposure to water. The vertical board under an exterior door is one example. This wood experiences splash back when water hits the first step below the door, and bounces back against the kickplate. Unless a home owner inspects this wood every year and insures the wood is protected with paint, the wood will rot and it may be difficult to see until several years of damage have occurred.

Top 10 Places for Wood Rot

Here are the most common places for wood rot and related water damage to occur in homes:

  • Wood below exterior doors.
  • Wood damage often found at the base of an exterior door..
  • Wood rot occurs at the bottom of windows, i.e. most often the windowsill.
  • Rotten wood frequently found under the roof line, i.e. fascia and soffits.
  • Wood rot hides behind gutters and downspouts.
  • Wood damage often found at the corners of a home, i.e. the corner board.
  • Trim around doors and windows will rot when not properly flashed.
  • Decks have lots of wood rot when water can't drain easily, i.e. when not enough space is left between floor boards to allow for when the wood expands and contracts.
  • Most common deck problem is the ledger board, where the deck is attached to the house and often isn't flashed.
  • At the top of the foundation, the wood boards, i.e. sill and ribbon, will rot if moisture cannot dry out due to foundation plantings.

Rotted Door Threshold
Rotted Door Threshold

Home Maintenance

Inspecting your home for wood rot should be part of your overall home maintenance routine, done at least once a year. In the spring you want to inspect your home's exterior to identify any damage suffered through the winter. Repairs should be made quickly to stop things like wood rot from extending beyond the initial problem as long term damage costs far more to repair than minor problems.

It is also a good idea to visually examine the outside of your home in the fall, to find potential problems that would be better to correct when working conditions are better.For instance, if you are cleaning your gutters each fall, this is the perfect time to visually inspect all aspects of your home's exterior.

Checklist for Wood Rot Inspection

The more time you invest in preventing problems, the more money you will save. Checklists are a useful tool to help home owners maintain their home, i.e. here is a simple list to help find potential wood rot before costly repairs are needed:

  • When cleaning gutters, inspect the vertical "fascia" boards behind them.
  • Right below the fascia boards, inspect the horzontal "soffits" underneath.
  • Inspect the gable ends of the house, the wood trim under the roof and any gable vents which are often made of wood.
  • While still on a ladder, check any corner boards made of wood and other decorative trim.
  • Check decks and porches - where they're attached to the house, floor boards, railings, stairs. Don't forget to go underneath to check the support wood, at ground level where wood is exposed to dirt and where support beams connect to surface wood.
  • Check around the foundation where sometimes the lower six to twelve inches of siding may get spashback and rot.
  • Checking windows is a challenge given the large number of them. Generally you should spot check several on each floor. Every home has one side that gets more wear (sun, wind and/or rain) and you should check all windows on this side.
  • Check all doors, and especially those you don't use often.

Note: For windows and doors, you want to focus at the top where water may get in behind the wood if not properly flashed. You should also check at the bottom where water has a tendency to puddle.

Comments 12 comments

Morris Streak profile image

Morris Streak 7 years ago from UK

You're right, spotting wood rot means an owner actually taking part in inspecting his or her home. I wish we had more of those. That way we could all save on money by spotting the damage early, and, maybe doing the repairs ourselves. I'm into home improvement, which is why I stumbled upon your hub.

tinagleisner profile image

tinagleisner 7 years ago from NH Seacoast Author

Morris, It is amazing that people buy homes and most never realize the amount of ongoing maintenance needed to protect, what for most, their largest financial asset.Given that the average American moves every 7 years, maybe that's why home owners don't see the payback in timely maintenance.I am about to launch the Assn of Home Professionals (www.hometipsandtools.com for home owners) where I hope to start teaching people about the home ownership life cycle and what is require to take proper care of your home.

Braden 6 years ago

This article is titled incorrectly. It does not discuss repairing wood rot. Rather it discusses preventing, and inspecting for wood rot.

tinagleisner 6 years ago

Braden, I can see your perspective so I'll try to remember your advice in the future. Slowly, I'm writing about the repair side (http://hometipsandtools.com/rotted-window-sill-how... but I'm actually more focused on trying to educate home owners so they don't end up with big repair bills.

TINA V profile image

TINA V 6 years ago

Homeowners really need to inspect their house every now and then for any wood rots. This is an informative and helpful hub.

Happy New Year!

tinagleisner profile image

tinagleisner 6 years ago from NH Seacoast Author

Tina, Thanks & if you want to learn more about taking care of your home, I've got 100s of articles at http://www.HomeTipsandTools.com

wilderness profile image

wilderness 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Some good tips here. The most I've found in my own home is the soffit area - ours are 3' or better and when we bought the house the north side had holes with bird nests in them! All fixed by now, though, and no further damage after 10 years.

It is definitely something to keep up with as it turns into major damage all too easily.

tinagleisner 4 years ago

Wilderness (although I laugh when I look at your photo),

Glad your soffits have made it through 10 years without new damage. You must be doing a good job of checking the area periodically and painting as needed. Today you could use one of the new composites like Azek but it wasn't very well known 10 years ago.

Futamarka 3 years ago

Всё сайты, представленные в наших обзорах, были проверены тысячами пользователей, а также операторами мобильной связи и лично нами, в том числе и стоимости смс-сообщений. Цены на них указаны согласно сумме, снятой у нас при салонации на представленных в обзоре сайтах.

Mylindaminka 3 years ago

За макияжный турбослим несет ответственность не только «мужское достоинство», но и твой мускул расположенный в нижней части косметички. Женщинам, которые хотят получать макияжный турбослим, рекомендуется тренировать этот мускул. Нужно просто сильно напрягать, а потом расслаблять мышцы косметички.

tinagleisner profile image

tinagleisner 3 years ago from NH Seacoast Author

Afraid I can only reply to comments written in English

gepeTooRs 8 months ago

Much more of this please

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