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Home Maintenance: How to Spot and Treat Dry Rot

Posted by Lydia Solis on May 24 2013

Your home is an investment, so protect your investment. It is important to spot small knowing when you have dry rotproblems in your home before they become a serious problem and a major expense. Dry rot is one of those serious problems.

Dry rot is a fungus that feeds on wood causing it to weaken. The wood will become cracked, brittle and eventually breaks down. Dry rot is a common problem in older homes where the wood was not treated to prevent damage.
Here are three important things to know about dry rot:

1) Where to Look

Dry rot fungus grows where there is moisture so look in areas where there is a water source. You may also find it outside where there are damaged gutters or downspouts. Also check:

  • Window sills
  • Along the wall where water runs off the roof.
  • Decks.
  • Any spot where horizontal and vertical walls meet (Dry rot can occur at points of a structure where wood meets the ground).

spotting dry rotLook for cracks, splits, and discoloration which may indicated dry rot. Especially check areas where there has been a leak.

An easy way to check if the wood is rotted, is by using a screw driver to penetrate the wood. If it goes through or the wood flakes easily, that means there is dry rot. Rot behind flooring, drywall, or siding can be apparent by the discoloration of by noticing if the material doesn’t feel strong with pressure.

2) What to do if you find dry rot.

Dry rot can progress quickly so it’s important to make repairs as soon as possible. First you’ll need to find and stop the source where moisture is coming from. Second, you’ll have to replace the wood that has been weakened, with pressure treated wood. But before anything, make sure that your problem is definitely dry rot and not something else like termites or carpenter ants.

3) How to prevent dry rot.

To prevent dry rot, there are several things you can do around your house:

  • Properly ventilate and insulate your attic and/or basement.
  • Ventilate any crawlspaces.
  • Seal basement floors to reduce ground moisture.
  • Make sure roof flashing being directed properly.
  • Check deck and porch flashings.
  • Keep wood siding and trims off the ground and away from the roof and masonry.
  • Properly flash windows and doors.
  • Keep up with painting and caulking.
  • Keep the drains and downspouts clear.

If there is a lot of runoff water near your house, consider installing a rain barrel to collect water or connecting your downspout to a drain tile that will divert water away from your home.

Most importantly, treat dry rot as soon as you find it! Leaving it untreated will cause serious damage to your home and very expensive to fix.

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Topics: home maintenance, property maintenance

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