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Everything You Need To Know About Wood Rot Treatment

Wood is a biological material. Because it's composed of thick-walled cells, it's prone to decay. However, a timber house can last well over 100 years if it's properly cared for.

The key is to avoid things like wood rot and other environmental factors that damage a home or commercial building. If you don't catch it early, the decay can lead to significant structural damage.

Do you want to learn more about wood rot and how to get rid of rotten timber? This guide will break it down for you!

What Is Wood Rot?

Timber is a great building material. It's resistant to most biological corruption, as long as it stays dry. If it gets exposed to water over a prolonged period though, it becomes vulnerable to decay.

Wood rot is decay caused by a breakdown of the hemicellulose and cellulose, the two components that provide timber with its resilience and strength. It only affects damp material. The presence of decay indicates that the timber’s moisture content is too high, probably 20% or more. It can cause timber to soften, disintegrate, discolor, and smell.

White Rot

The white form of decay causes timber to develop a fibrous texture. It lightens the color and doesn't cause any cross-cracking. It turns lumber a yellow/white or grayish color and causes it to feel spongy to the touch.

Brown Rot

The brown version causes timber to develop darker colors. It also causes a home's timber to crack both across and along the grain and can cause the wood to break into cube-shaped bits in a process called cubical fracture. The brown variant is considered more aggressive than the white variant, as it can spread through wall materials and get behind plaster. Even though it's sometimes called "dry rot," it still only occurs on lumber with higher moisture content.

What Causes Wood Rot?

Wood rot requires three key ingredients to thrive: oxygen, moisture, and warm or moderate temperatures. Since we can’t eliminate oxygen or warmth, we tend to focus on moisture as the cause of rot.

Areas of a home that are frequently exposed to damp conditions are most susceptible, such as:

  • Floors

  • Siding

  • Doors

  • Windows

  • Outside decks

  • Roofs

  • Basements

  • Kitchens

  • Bathrooms

We know that warm temperatures and too much moisture cause both white and brown variants, but where is the moisture coming from? Let's take a look at the many different reasons for water and humidity finding their way into a building.

External Causes

Every year, moisture causes at least $1 billion in damages to homes. Most wood rot is caused by exposure to the elements. Externally, there are lots of ways moisture gets in. For example, defective or missing roof slates or tiles and blocked guttering are some of the easiest ways for water to creep in.

Some other external causes of moisture infiltration are:

  • Flashing and roof leaks

  • Poorly maintained downspouts and drains

  • Poor landscaping

  • Plants that block drainage systems and crawl space vents

If rainwater finds its way into a building by any of these means, you must stop the intrusion before rot has a chance to infiltrate and destroy the structure of your home.

Internal Causes

Internal causes of decay are different. There are so many ways in which lumber can find itself overburdened with moisture indoors. For example, did you know that cooking, showering, and drying your clothes indoors can lead to higher moisture content in your house? With enough people in a home, these activities can have damaging effects.

Some other internal causes of excess moisture are:

  • Plumbing

  • Damp crawl spaces and basements

  • Humidifiers

  • Improperly vented clothes dryers and other appliances

  • Flooding and sewer backups

Signs of Rotten Wood

Whether it's white or brown, there are noticeable symptoms of decay and the sooner you identify them, the better. It's much easier to treat rotten timber in the early stages.

Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Discolored patches that appear lighter or darker than the surrounding material

  • Changes in texture where the timber looks spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks, or is breaking into cube-shaped pieces

  • Chunks or “sawdust” are falling away from the main structure

  • Timber has a damp, musty smell

If you find a suspicious patch, take a screwdriver and press it against the spot. If it sinks right in with little or no resistance, you’ve got decay. Don't hesitate to call an expert to come and take a look before any damage becomes structural.

How to Treat Rotten Wood

Treating rotten timber differs based on the type of decay and the severity of the damage. The first step is to identify the source of moisture and get rid of it.

After that, treatment usually means replacing the affected timber with pre-treated material to help protect it against rot in the future, and all lumber should be treated with a quality primer before painting or staining. Since some types of wood rot can travel across other surfaces such as masonry, nearby surfaces should be treated with a biocide.

Can You Repair Rotten Wood?

Repairing rotten timber is tricky. The only acceptable way to repair it without removing the entire piece is if all the rotted parts can be brushed and then scraped away to a pristine wood surface underneath. Your handyman can then fill in those empty patches with an epoxy.

Regardless of whether your wood needs to be replaced or repaired, our Texas repair professionals can address all of your wood rot needs.

Trust Mr. Handyman to Eliminate Wood Rot From Your Home!

Treating decay doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, as long as you catch it early. Wood rot treatment can be more costly and difficult the more the decay has progressed and damaged the timber in your home or business.

If you suspect any type of decayed timber in your home, it's crucial that you hire a professional to come and assess it before any structural damage occurs. Do you want help finding and treating wood rot in your McKinney, Texas home? Give us a call today at 214-387-3474 or request service online—we’d love the opportunity to assist you!