Is Wood Rotting Under Your Nose?

Part of owning a home is inspecting it for damage, repairs, etc. What many find to their horror is decaying wood. Decayed wood or wood rot isn’t always noticed until a costly problem arises. It can lead to big and expensive repairs such as structural damage.

When something starts as a little water trapped between two materials made of wood, it doesn’t sound so harmful. When in reality, that’s something worth addressing while the damage hasn’t been done. Most often than not, these are just little details that nobody takes into consideration. But over time, under the right conditions, rotting starts and worsens.

Homeowners do more than paying their home loans. Part of owning a home is looking into possible problems like this. Before doing something about it, a good place to start is what causes rotting wood.

What Causes Wood Rot?

Rot in wood is highly linked to moisture and the role of moisture in the growth of fungi.

What causes wood to rot is the growth of fungi in the wood tissue. Fungi growth is largely contributed by moisture that if it were absent in the middle of the growth, it would make the fungi dormant until the moisture levels return. This all depends on the type of wood and fungi, but generally, about 35% to 50% of moisture content is required for fungi to thrive.

Other factors contributing to fungal growth and wood decay include oxygen, temperature, light exposure, acidity, urine, and manure.

What Are the Effects of Decay?

Generally, decay causes the wood to smell and shrink. Wood rot by fungi is generally categorized into two types: brown rot and white rot.

White rot wood becomes paler and can have streaks of different sizes. It doesn’t cause cross-cracking but rather a fibrous, spongy whitish mass. Meanwhile, in brown rot, the wood darkens in color and shrinks. It can be crumbled easily with just fingers, turning into powder. The loss of weight for wood caused by brown rot is about 70%. Compared to white rot, brown rot causes a more rapid weakening of wood durability. However, regardless of type, both are capable of decaying wood all the same.

What Areas Are Most Vulnerable to Wood Rot?

When it comes to inspecting wood rot, it might take time as the average house has many parts with wood used as the material. To give insight, here are some areas of the house that are likely to get rot.

Degraded Parts of the Roof

When it rains, the first part of the home the water hits is the roof, that goes without saying. The roof and the exterior walls are the first line of defense against weather and other elements. However, water will land on the roof’s exposed flooring if a roof is not in tip-top shape. This will cause rot, ultimately penetrating the roof’s flooring and into the attic. To avoid this, any damaged roof shingles should be fixed or replaced right away.

Windows and Doors

If not insulated or sealed properly, rainwater can enter between gaps and cracks and become trapped there. Because it’s hidden, it remains damp and dark. These are the conditions that can cause the growth of fungi. This can happen more often to windows that aren’t usually open.

Other Rooms and Spaces Prone to Getting Wet

Other than the roof and attic having direct exposure to water, there’s the outdoor deck and its joists too. The floorboards of a deck are usually treated, but that doesn’t mean that they’re rot-proof. There are multiple ways to mitigate water damage, such as proper ventilation or redirecting water. But over time, the water will do a number of it.

One room that wins most humid is the basement. It’s a poorly ventilated room, with possible leaks in pipes that may cause even more moisture. In addition, the soil becomes saturated with rainwater which causes moisture into the basement through the concrete. The buildup of moisture will result in the rot and decay of headers, joists, columns, and other parts that can cause structural damage.

Be more vigilant about this. During the regular inspection and maintenance of your home, add wood rot to the list of things to watch out for. This will help you determine which parts and spaces of the home need some improvement to prevent this from happening again. This also saves costs from bigger repairs in the future. Just as they say, prevention is better than cure.


David Rosenberg: A seasoned political journalist, David's blog posts provide insightful commentary on national politics and policy. His extensive knowledge and unbiased reporting make him a valuable contributor to any news outlet.