|

Rooting Out Wood Rot

In the Nick of Time

If you're doing any repairs to wood on your home, building a deck, even building wood flower planters, always use pressure-treated lumber or lumber substitutes. Yes, they're more expensive, but they'll save you money in the long run.

The best time to prevent rot is when homes are built. Some wood used in home-building, such as Western red cedar and redwood, contains substances that make them naturally fungi resistant. But these fungi-resistant woods are in short supply,and are too expensive to be used widely.

Alternatives to these woods include…

  • Pressure-treated lumber, which is impregnated with chemicals that protect it from insect and fungal damage. There are different types, rated for various placements: above ground, ground contact, and wood foundation.

  • Wood-polymer lumber, which bonds wood with fungi-resistant plastic.

  • Extruded plastic lumber made from recycled plastic containers.

Building on well-drained sites with proper grading will also help prevent wood rot.

In existing homes, periodic inspections can go a long way toward fighting off many problems, including wood rot. If you're picking up a musty smell in your basement or it's been raining more than usual, it's definitely a good idea to take a good look around.

Before you go, arm yourself with a pointed tool, such as a screwdriver, ice pick, or awl. You'll need it for probing suspect wood.

Inspect the following areas. Use the tool to dig into any suspicious areas. If it enters easily, you've got rot.

  • Exterior trim. Pay close attention to horizontal or nearly horizontal areas that don't drain well, such as window sills. Cracked, peeled, or blistering paint are signs of moisture damage. Be sure to check underneath exterior doors, too, as water often pools here.

  • Behind porches or patios. Wood here often sits close to the ground, concrete, or masonry. Rot can also develop in the wood behind concrete steps.

  • Interior crawl spaces. Pay particular attention to joints, which typically retain water longer than other areas.

  • The areas around plumbing fixtures, especially in the cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks.

If you have a fireplace, also check the flashing on the roof around the chimney, and the areas around the chimney (especially sub floors) where it runs through your home. While you're up there, check flashings around vents, skylights, around the roof—anywhere water can pool and cause problems.

How Dry Am I?

Around the House

If you have a friend who builds wood furniture or does other wood crafts, ask about borrowing a wood moisture meter. Serious woodworkers almost always have one, as wood that is too wet or dry can wreak havoc with their projects.

If you don't find rot, but you still think there might be a problem, get your hands on a wood moisture meter. These handy devices are available at many hardware and home improvement stores and at stores that carry woodworking supplies. They're not cheap—the low end is around $100 or so—but they're worth the price if they detect a moisture problem before fungi sets in.

Most moisture meters use electric impedance to test moisture levels. These devices have two little pins on one side. You stick the pins into the wood, then press a button or flip a switch. This sends a quick jolt of electricity through the wood. Internal circuitry measures how quickly the electricity makes the rounds from one pin to the other. Wet wood conducts electricity faster than dry wood does.

Other models are pinless and use electromagnetic radio waves to test wood density. The denser the wood, the wetter it is.

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

jack-o'-lantern creator

Design and print
your own
jack-o’-
lanterns!

GO

highlights

12 Pumpkin Activities and Crafts for Kids
Pumpkins and gourds are perfect for fall fun and games with the kids. Find the best pumpkin activities, crafts, printables, and recipes to enjoy with your children this Halloween season.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

15 Best Slow Cooker Meals
Too busy to cook? Try one of these deliciously easy slow cooker meals and have dinner waiting when you get home!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!