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Residential deck in need of wood rot repair

Wood Rot Repair: What West Chicago Homeowners Need to Know

Timber is well-loved for its beauty, durability, strength, sustainability, and ease of use, making it the most prevalent building material for homes in Chicago and throughout the United States. Unfortunately, that means West Chicago homeowners—whether they know it or not—are involved in an ongoing fight against timber's only real weakness: wood rot.

Since we spend our lives surrounded by timber, we've all seen rotten wood before, but you might not know what causes it. How can you find it in your house? Most importantly, how can you banish rot from your property?

This guide answers frequently asked questions about wood rot repair with advice and information from the experts at Mr. Handyman of Wheaton-Hinsdale. Our service professionals have years of experience with rot mitigation, so we know how to spot it and how to get rid of it before it causes serious damage to your house.

What is Wood Rot and What Causes It?

It is a form of decay caused by wood-eating fungi that attack the lignin or cellulose of timber, causing it to weaken, soften, and crumble. When supporting beams are affected, it can cause serious structural damage in a home.

To begin rotting, timber has to be exposed to the right conditions for fungi growth: warmth, oxygen, and a moisture content of 20% or higher in the lumber. That's why timber that gets frequently soaked with water is so prone to decay, while dry wood can last hundreds of years without suffering from rot.

How Do You Know You Need Wood Rot Repair?

While rotted wood that has been decaying for some time is obvious, there are much more subtle signs of rot that appear in the early stages. If you know what they are, you'll be able to spot the damage before it gets too severe.

Common Symptoms:

  • Patches of discolored wood that appear lighter or darker than surrounding material, or have a yellow, white, or purplish hue.

  • Textures changes where timber appears spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks.

  • Timber breaking into cube-shaped chunks (this is called cubical fracture) or crumbling into sawdust.

  • In very advanced cases, there may be mushrooms sprouting from the decayed area.

While signs of swelling timber don't necessarily indicate rot, it does mean that the moisture content in that timber is excessive and it needs to dry out, or else it'll soon be affected by decay.

Where is Wood Rot Commonly Found?

Since excess moisture is such a key factor in the growth of fungi, decay can be found anywhere that lumber is exposed to water. That obviously applies to exterior wood, but timber inside your home can also be affected by exposure to water vapor, leaks, and careless use of indoor fixtures.

Common Locations:

  • Wood siding

  • Timber soffit & fascia boards

  • Window sills & frames

  • Exterior doors

  • Entryways (over doors)

  • Floors in mud rooms

  • Outdoor decking material on porches & deck

  • Stairs

  • Fences

  • Gazebos, sheds, playhouses, & other outdoor structures

  • Poorly ventilated bathrooms

  • Water leaks under sinks & other water fixtures

  • Near leaks around water supply lines

  • Attics

  • And, crawl spaces

How Do I Check for Wood Rot?

If you're ready to investigate your home, grab a flashlight and a screwdriver to thoroughly examine as much timber as possible, both inside and outside the house. Pay special attention to the areas listed above.

When you see a suspicious patch, press the screwdriver against it. If it sinks right in with little or no resistance, that's wood rot. Don't forget to check hard-to-reach areas such as crawl spaces and the attic. It's a pain, but decay in those parts of the house can cause structural stability issues.

Not up to the task of climbing and crawling around your entire property? No problem! Mr. Handyman can take care of a complete investigation. We have the experience to notice what others miss, and the expertise to get it removed efficiently.

How is Wood Rot Repair Done?

The most common and effective treatment for decayed timber is to remove the affected piece of wood and replace it with quality materials such as pressure-treated lumber. We'll then paint or stain the new timber to make the repair invisible and apply sealant to help it resist moisture incursion in the future.

However, in situations where the damage is minor, or removing the timber would be prohibitively difficult, your handyman may be able to do spot repairs with epoxy consolidant. In that case, they would carefully scrape out all the rotten material and fill the hole with epoxy wood filler, spreading it with a clean putty knife. Once it's dry, it can be smoothed with coarse sandpaper and painted over.

How Can I Prevent Wood Rot?

The best preventative measure against decay is to never permit water to touch timber, but that can be downright impossible. There are, however, a few ways to help reduce the risk of rot:

  • Clean and repair rain gutters on a semi-annual basis, so they don't overflow and spill water down the exterior of the house—this is why gutter cleaning should be part of your spring home repairs checklist.

  • Stain or paint outdoor lumber and coat every side of the lumber with sealant.

  • Trim back trees and bushes so moisture-laden leaves aren't brushing up against exterior timber.

  • Make sure bathrooms are properly ventilated and always run the fan when you're in the shower or bath.

Need Quality Wood Rot Repair Services in West Chicago? Rely on Mr. Handyman!

Whether you're in Bloomingdale, Arlington Heights, Villa Park, or another part of West Chicago, you can count on quality workmanship and excellent customer service from the professionals at Mr. Handyman of Wheaton-Hinsdale.

Give us a call or text today at 630-657-0378 to find out more about how we can improve your home and make your life easier!