In addition to all sorts of fancy construction materials, homeowners and builders still use wood across the country. It’s effective for various things as well as aesthetically pleasing. You could argue that it’s one of the most popular materials in the construction business. And that’s saying something since there are numerous high-end materials such as concrete and steel to choose from.
However, wood isn’t perfect like everything else. It’s prone to many issues that can endanger your home’s structural integrity and safety. Let’s explore wood rot by taking you through all the necessary details and problems it can cause.
What Is Wood Rot?
First thing’s first. We’ve got to settle what wood rot is. Namely, in biological terms, rotting is a process of decomposing or decaying living matter. But when it comes to wood and construction, rotting is something you should seriously worry about. Even the slightest decay in the wood holding up your structure will cause you problems.
As we’ve said, wood is a prevalent building material. You can often see it in roof decking, support posts, and floor joists. As such, these elements need an extra layer of protection to keep the wood from decaying and decomposing. In the following, we’ll discuss different types of wood rot, signs to worry about, problems, and ways to prevent any serious damage.
Types of Wood Rot
The main cause of wood rot is fungi that attack it. However, not all fungi are the same, so they’ll cause different types of wood rot. Each manifestation of rotting will come from a specific set of enzymes that will affect your home in varying ways. We can classify rot into three groups, depending on its appearance; brown, soft, and white.
Brown rot leaves the impression that the wood is dried up on the surface. Biologists will tell you that the type of fungi that causes it attacks the structure of the wood’s cellulose. During this attack, the wood begins to shrink, turn brown, and slowly break into tiny bits. This is what we call cubical fracture.
One of the biggest problems with rot is the fact that fungi don’t care for the surrounding conditions. This means that they’ll thrive in both hot and cold environments as long as there is high humidity and dampness present. And when it comes to soft rot, the fungi that cause it will secrete an enzyme that will create tiny holes in the wood.
This process is slower than brown rot, but it will eventually turn your wooden materials into honeycomb-like objects. It will also discolor them as it begins to form cracks and fractures all over. You can see soft rot attacking trees and logs in nature, but that won’t stop it from coming into your home as well.
Creating a spongy feel, white rot usually comes in the form of light yellow or white layers on the surface of the wood. Biologically, it attacks both the structural cellulose and the lignin in trees. White rot will commonly occur if you leave the wood in temperatures between 65 and 90°F.
Fungi use several types of enzymes to cause this type of decay, with some of them so strong that they’ll oxidize the lignin in the wood. It’s not uncommon to see white rot as honey mushrooms attack living trees, causing vast damage. Interestingly enough, we eat some of these fungi that cause white rot, like the pleasant-tasting Shiitake mushrooms.
Signs to Look Out For
Like with any other type of problem, it’s best to prevent it than to wait and mend it afterward. Hence, being proactive when it comes to rot is essential to keeping your home safe and stable. Luckily, you can identify early signs of fungi infestation in your home. To do it properly, we suggest checking for it once every year. Here’s where to look.
Since fungi simply love humidity, you should inspect either your basement or crawl space before you go up to the attic. Check to see if any wood is cracking when you press on it, as signs of rotting wood can be concealed beneath the surface. Apart from that, you should also look for the following:
Swelling and Discoloration
The first and obvious place to look for rot is the siding of your windows and doors. You can use a screwdriver to poke around it, diving into the paint if you want to. If the screwdriver or any other device you use sinks into the wood, you should consider contacting professionals to determine whether you’re looking at a rot manifestation.
As we’ve said, rot will make your wooden objects and construction elements soft. They will begin to shrink in size as the rot sets in. The wood might feel spongy, crumbly, or even brittle. This is a clear sign that something’s wrong, and you should act immediately. You can cut the rotting parts before they spread any further, but it’s best to wait for professional help since this isn’t some DIY job that you can do on your own.
One thing that makes it easy to notice rot is the smell it leaves. Namely, if your senses tell you there’s something damp and musty around, it’s probably fungi. Once again, it’s best to immediately locate the rotting wood and call for professional help.
Although they look pretty with all their lovely colors, mushrooms mustn’t fool you. It’s not normal to have any mushroom-like bodies in your crawl space, basement, or attic. They are a clear sign that you have rot problems and you’ll need to act before the situation gets out of control.
Dust-Like Spore Patches
Rot will leave dust-like spore patches behind. These patches aren’t something you should find in your home, as they’re dangerous to breathe in. The spores are usually red, orange, or brown. If you notice them around, assess the situation before contacting help.
How to Prevent Rot
The best and only real way to deal with rot is to prevent it. Here are a few tips:
- By using pressure-treated or decay-resistant lumber, you can make sure fungi won’t endanger your decks.
- The construction crew should also paint all sides of wood elements before assembling them into your home.
- Make sure your gutters are clean from clogs as they can help with moisture build-up.
- You should use rot-resistant wood like redwood, mahogany, white oak, and other types.
- Install dehumidifiers if you’re struggling with high humidity.
If your home is struggling with water-related problems that cause fungi to attack wood, you can contact FSM for a free inspection and repair estimate. After that, our team will present you with possible solutions for your rot problems. Keep in mind that the earlier you contact them, the sooner you’ll enjoy your home care-free.