Everything Local Homeowners need to know about Wood Rot Repair

An exposed, damaged, residential roof in need of professional wood rot repair.

Timber is one of the most common building materials for obvious reasons: it's beautiful, durable, strong, versatile, and easy to work with. It's also very long-lasting under the right circumstances. In fact, the oldest wooden man-made structure, a temple in Japan, is still standing after nearly 1,500 years. But timber does have one major weakness, and that weakness is why all local homeowners should know about Newtown wood rot repair.

If the wood on your property has begun to suffer from decay, you need wood rot repairs. It's one of those common Newtown property problems that will worsen and spread over time until it causes severe issues with your wooden structures, including your house or commercial building. But how do you know if your timber is affected? Can it be fixed? And . . . what is it, anyway?

This guide answers common wood rot repair questions, with expert advice from the Newtown handyman team at Mr. Handyman of Newtown and Yardley, so you can make an informed decision about the care of your property. Our experienced technicians have completed numerous wood rot repair projects, so we know how to track down decayed timber that others may miss and eliminate it from your home.

What is Wood Rot?

Basically, wood rot is a form of decay triggered by a combination of moisture content in timber and the right temperatures for fungal growth. That decay is caused by wood-destroying fungi that eat away at timber, causing it to soften and crumble apart. In fact, timber with a moisture content of 20% or higher has a drastically increased risk of needing wood rot repairs, while timber that remains dry can last for hundreds of years without rotting.

Timber decay is an irritating problem that causes most homeowners to need wood rot repair sooner or later. This is especially true in places like Newtown, PA, which are close enough to rivers, lakes, and creeks to have relatively high levels of humidity in the air. This humidity seeps into timber and increases its moisture content, creating an ideal breeding ground for fungi. But it can be more than just irritating if the problem is left to fester without hiring Newtown wood rot repair services. Weakened, decayed timber can cause serious problems if structural supports such as floor joists, ceiling joists, and roof decking are affected.

Once the fungus takes hold, it’s capable of spreading to other parts of your property—though the extent of damage depends on the variety. There are many different kinds of rot-related fungi, but Newtown homeowners are most likely to encounter three distinct types. They all have similar effects on your timber, though they attack different parts of wood fibers.

  • White-Rot Fungi: This variant attacks lignin, which is part of timber’s structural material. It breaks down lignin and leaves the lighter-colored cellulose intact. This process gives the decayed material a whitish or yellowish look and a stringy, spongy texture. It thrives at room temperature, around 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so building interiors are an attractive place for it to grow.
  • Brown-Rot Fungi: This variant is often called dry rot, but that is a misnomer—it still needs a high moisture content to start growing. It attacks cellulose, leaving the darker-colored lignin behind, and causing timber to shrink and break apart in cube-shaped chunks. This variety likes the same temperature range as white rot, but it’s more aggressive. While it only affects lumber, it can get to new patches by crossing non-lumber material—such as plaster and masonry.
  • Soft-Rot Fungi: This type secretes an enzyme that breaks down cellulose by creating small cavities in it that soften lumber. It appears similar to brown rot, but is considered less aggressive and is most likely to be found on fallen logs in the forest. However, it thrives in a much wider temperature range, from about zero to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. So, it can easily infest the wooden exteriors of houses and other outdoor structures if they are unprotected by water-resistant sealant.

Where Should I Look for Warning Signs that I Need Wood Rot Repairs?

Excess moisture is a key element to create the perfect conditions for timber-eating fungi to thrive, so it makes sense that the most likely spots where wood rot grows are the places where water incursion happens. This includes locations such as under a malfunctioning plumbing fixture, but it could also come from a source such as a poorly ventilated bathroom. When you take hot showers in a room that doesn't have proper ventilation, water vapor condenses on surfaces and seeps into timber, elevating its moisture content.

Other possible locations where wood rot can be found includes:

  • Wood siding
  • Timber soffit board/fascia board
  • Wood around windows, such as window sills and frames
  • Exterior doors and door jambs
  • Deck boards, posts, and other common Newtown deck repair problem spots
  • Floors in a mudroom or entryway
  • Steps and staircases
  • Fences
  • Sheds, gazebos, playhouses, and other outdoor structures
  • Underneath sinks and other plumbing fixtures
  • Near appliances with water supply lines
  • Under or near water heaters
  • Attics and crawl spaces

How Can I Tell If I Have Rotting Timber on My Property?

Since most people in Newtown have timber components in their home, it can be really helpful to know the signs that you need wood rot repairs and how to search for them. Decay gets progressively worse over time and spreads to new areas, so the earlier you can catch it and stop it in its tracks with wood rot repairs, the better. For homeowners in Newtown and nearby areas, we recommend doing a thorough inspection of any visible timber in your home once per year—including checking hard-to-reach areas like crawl spaces and attics.

Grab a flashlight and a screwdriver, and try to examine as much of your property's visible timber as possible. The above list of common locations is a good place to start, but think about all the places on your property where you can see and/or touch lumber—both outside and inside. If you aren't willing, or able, to crawl all over your house looking for signs that you need Newtown wood rot repairs, our local handyman professionals can complete a thorough maintenance check of your property.

Look for Visual Clues

When you check a piece of wood for signs of decay, look as closely as possible for these telltale symptoms:

  • Discolored wood that appears lighter or darker than the rest of the material, or has a yellow, white, or purple hue
  • Timber is webbed with cracks or breaking into cube-shaped bits in a process called cubical fracture
  • Textural changes that cause lumber to look spongy, stringy, or swollen
  • Chunks of material falling away from the main structure
  • In very advanced cases, mushrooms sprouting from lumber

Try the Screwdriver Test

Spotted a suspicious patch? This is where the screwdriver comes in. Just press it against the affected area—if it sinks right in with little or no resistance, that is a definite candidate for wood rot repair. It may not be the most high-tech test, but it works.

Pro Tip: Pay Attention to Peeling Paint

Peeling, flaking paint or stain on lumber is not necessarily a symptom of rot, but it does indicate that the moisture content is elevated, causing the lumber to swell and push the paint apart. Since excess moisture is the first step toward decay, if you notice peeling paint you should try to figure out where the moisture is coming from and stop it.

Can Rotten Wood Be Fixed?

Yes and no. Because the fungi actually eats parts of wood fibers, weakening and softening the material, there is no way to return decayed timber to its original condition. That’s why wood rot repair usually involves removing the affected lumber altogether and replacing it with fresh, strong timber that has been treated to make it more rot-resistant.

If lumber is soft to the touch, crumbling apart, or has mushrooms sprouting from it, it’s beyond saving. If the patches of decay are pretty minor and/or the timber would be prohibitively difficult to remove, your handyman may be able to repair it by scraping out the rotted parts and using a putty knife to fill in the gaps with epoxy consolidants. Once the wood filler has dried, it can be smoothed out with sandpaper and painted over. The area should be cleaned thoroughly—including nearby masonry and other surfaces if you’re dealing with brown rot, since it can spread across non-timber materials. It's worth noting that the area will still be vulnerable and should be monitored for any signs of recurrent decay.

I Found Wood Rot, What Next?

Discovering rotted wood in your home is unpleasant, but it's also pretty common in Newtown. The sooner you find it and take steps to start the repair process, the better the overall results of your wood rot repair efforts will be.

Cut Off the Moisture’s Source

The most critically important step you should take first is stopping the moisture’s source. This may not be possible in some cases—you can't control the weather in Newtown, so there isn't really any way to prevent rainfall—but if there is something you can do to help the affected material dry out, by all means take that step. For instance, you could throw a tarp over your shed when it rains, or repair a leaky faucet. Sometimes, preventing decay may be a more involved process, such as installing adequate ventilation in your bathroom or kitchen, or sealing up deteriorated window frames and door jambs that are letting moisture seep in.

Because of the nature of this type of decay, there is no point in hiring Newtown wood rot repair services until the root of the issue is dealt with. If it’s not a simple fix, you may not have the equipment and/or know-how to get the affected area secured against moisture incursion. This is completely understandable. Our multi-skilled team of service professionals is very experienced with water damage mitigation, and we can expertly handle jobs such as sealing windows or installing bathroom ventilation, among many other tasks that will help prevent moisture damage by keeping your property snug and dry.

Call Your Newtown Wood Rot Repair Professionals

Once you have figured out where the moisture is coming from (or before, if you need some skilled help with that step), call the Newtown wood rot repair experts at Mr. Handyman of Newtown and Yardley to chase timber decay off your property, and take steps to prevent further water damage to all parts of your home.

How Can I Avoid the Need for Future Wood Rot Repairs?

Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it’s worthwhile to look for ways to avoid timber decay in the first place, so you don't need Newtown wood rot repair services. Here are a few prevention tips:

  • Thoroughly check your property for rot at least once per year as part of an annual maintenance checklist.
  • Clean and repair rain gutters one to two times per year to avoid excess water affecting the exterior of your house.
  • Make sure bathrooms and other rooms with exposure to steam are adequately ventilated.
  • Trim trees and bushes, so moisture-laden leaves aren't brushing against your siding, deck, or other outdoor wooden structures.

Is Your Home in Desperate Need of Newtown Wood Rot Repair Services?

Whether you’re in Newtown or a nearby community such as Washington Crossing or Langhorne, the team of qualified professionals at Mr. Handyman of Newtown and Yardley is the smart option for expert Newtown wood rot repair, and dozens of other reliable handyman services like drywall repair or mailbox installation.

Pick up the phone and give us a call todayto book an appointment, or chat with our customer care staff about what we can do to get your property in ideal condition!