Wood rot is much more than a simple eyesore. It can be an important warning that a property needs help fast from a professional foundation services repair team. Rot also takes several forms and depends on both human carelessness and the environment to do lasting damage. An informed and proactive property owner can prevent the worst from occurring.
When this issue is left unattended, it can become a danger to a property’s inhabitants, especially if it leads to something serious like weakened floor joists. This guide will cover what causes this problem, how to spot the various types, and what property owners can do about wood rot repair.
What Causes Behind Wood Rot?
Wood rot differs from other forms of damage, such as that caused by termites. Pests chew at the wood fibers to weaken its structure; rotten wood suffers from more insidious enemies that are all around us, even with the best of property care. Here are the common triggers of wood rot and how they manifest:
The naturally porous profile of wood means there’s plenty of space for water to enter it. Moisture content of 20-30% is enough to weaken the structure and lay the groundwork for rot. Homes face moisture risks both externally and internally, which makes preventing water damage a vital step in reducing the chances of wood rot developing.
Property owners in colder climates have an advantage, since the harsher temperatures help slow (but not prevent) the rate of wood rot. Warmth interacts with even small amounts of moisture to create ideal conditions for decay to get started.
There isn’t much property owners can do to avoid this one. The better ventilated a space is, the more it provides one of the critical elements wood rot requires – but only a 20% air volume is necessary for rot. Windows and doors are common victims of decay due to the constant airflow.
Rot is a common problem in the construction industry, and it can be difficult to diagnose. The first thing you should do if you suspect wood rot on your property is to contact an expert in wood rot repair as soon as possible. It’s also important to understand the different kinds of wood rot to be aware of.
What are The Fungi Behind Wood Rot?
All the elements above combined often lead to fungi, which are directly responsible for wood rot. There are many types of fungi, but only some attack wood. These microscopic organisms usually show their damage in one of three forms:
- Brown Rot
This is the most serious form of wood rot, since it only becomes apparent when the decay is advanced. It causes wood to shrink and crack while taking on a brown discoloration. Wood decomposes to such a state of dryness that it can be broken into a powder with little effort.
- Soft Rot
This gets its name from the weakening effect it has on the first few millimeters of the wood. It’s commonly present in water-logged planks and beams and can be similar to brown rot in appearance.
- White Rot
This variety gives the wood a bleached appearance. It’s not as severe as brown rot, but it does still cause shrinkage and will break wood down to make it feel springy or spongey.
There is another fungus type that property owners should be vigilant about: mold fungi. These black, yellow, green, or brown powdery substances can appear in any environmental condition. They don’t rot wood by themselves, but they make it more likely to absorb moisture, thus kickstarting the decay process.
Wood Rot Repair
Experts can repair wood that isn’t too far gone with a few relatively hassle-free steps. Defining “too far gone” can be difficult for property owners, though, because different sources offer conflicting advice on what level of rot is safe to repair. Always consult the professionals before considering any of the following fixes to be a final solution:
1. Chemical Wood Preservatives
These products contain boron or copper and are harmless to humans but toxic to fungi. When these sink in, it robs the fungi of their food source and leaves the wood stronger than before. Paint is another good way to form a wood-preserving barrier, and some are specifically designed to tackle mold-based microbes that can negatively impact your health.
2. Use Epoxy or Fillers
Pros can add paint successfully to well-applied polyester fillers or epoxies. They use these to fill in the gaps as the wood currently stands or can add them as a new layer after removing rotted wood patches with a chisel or rasp. Workers can shape fillers and epoxies easily and sand them smooth when they dry.
3. Apply Wood Hardener
Workers can apply wood hardener to the affected beam/post/frame before filling begins or directly to rotted wood that hasn’t had any compromised parts removed. Hardener acts as a sealant to prevent the entry of excess moisture while seeping into the wood to help reinforce any decayed fibers. It can be easily and quickly applied with a brush and dries within a couple of hours.
4. Control Humidity
Dry wood robs fungi of necessary moisture. Running a dehumidifier in a compromised space can sometimes be enough to dry out the wood and stop decay in its tracks. The early use of a dehumidifier may even eliminate the need for further action in the mildest cases.
Each of these solutions is relatively simple, but the work can be hazardous due to needing sharp objects and power tools and from the possible creation of fine particulate matter and wood splinters. Gloves, goggles, and a mask are recommended for extra safety. Calling in workers experienced with wood rot repair is the safest option – their skills and recommendations can ensure the issue is not only solved but investigated from every possible angle.
Contact the Experts With Any Questions
There is no need to let wood rot diminish the structural integrity and safety of your property. Our team of foundation solution pros can quickly assess the degree of decay and decide if a quick fix or deeper repairs are necessary.
The team at LUX Foundation Services can do all that and also check your entire property to look for any underlying structural issues that may be contributing to the decay. Contact our offices and speak to an expert today.