Water damage is an extremely common problem here in the Pacific Northwest, for both old and new homes.
What Causes Rot – If wood has the right amount of oxygen, warmth, and excess moisture in its environment, rot is inevitable thanks to fungi that will grow on and in the wood, eating away at the wood and cause it to lose its hardness and rigidity. Dry rot is easy to spot, even if you don’t fully know what you are looking for: wood that has a darker grain and a grayish color to it that crumbles apart easily in your hand.
Unfortunately, short of building your home without any wood, it’s not possible to completely avoid rot. But there are some steps you can take to limit rot from its attempts to take over your home. Keep things dry – the dryer the better. You don’t have a lot of control over the amount of oxygen in the air or the temperature of the air, but you can (mostly) control where water goes and what it gets into.
- Avoid standing water seeping into places it’s not wanted by filling in cracks and joints in your home. Keep windows properly caulked. Fill in all nail and screw holes by gluing plugs on top.
- Make sure gutters and downspouts are navigated in such a way that water leaving them will not run back towards your home.
- Check your home’s paint job and make sure it is touched-up routinely – paint will keep the wood from absorbing water.
- Another great way to protect your home is to install a better quality weather barrier housewrap than the standard housewrap. We use a product by Henry called BlueskinVP 100. You can read more on our blog about how amazing this stuff is.
- Opt for wood that is impervious to fungi - Wolmanized Residential Outdoor Wood is lumber that has been pressure treated with copper azole, one of the “new generation” or “green building” wood preservatives, as it contains no EPA-listed hazardous constituents. This wood treatment has been used around the world where special environmental concerns and/or restrictions exist. It can be stained or painted, and it is suitable for above ground as well as ground contact. Wolmanized wood will last longer and is resistant to rot, termites, and fungus.
- Keep landscaping trimmed back a few inches from your home to allow air through. This will help the space dry faster so it doesn’t retain all that excess moisture.
What Causes Mold – Mold and mildew, like dry rot, are caused by fungi due to moisture. Unlike dry rot, mold and mildew don’t actually cause wood to decay, just discolor. They can also affect the absorption capacity of wood, making it more likely to have other fungi growth (like fungi that leads to dry rot.) It is a good warning sign that you have a growing (pun intended) moisture problem. Mold is commonly found in or near leaking pipes, leaking roofs, areas with heavy condensation (like your bathroom), areas with poor ventilation (like your attic), damp basements, etc. If you start to see mold, it’s a good time to get that area checked out before it starts to turn into a dry rot problem.
- To prevent mold from growing, keep moisture and humidity at a minimum.
- Tie back the curtains and open the blinds – mold thrives in dark places, so bring in the light.
- Dust and vacuum regularly to minimize the amount mold spores there are in your home.
- Set up a dehumidifier to help keep humidity levels below the optimal mold growth level (which is as low as 55% depending on the variety of fungi).
- Seal up all water leaks and routinely check for new ones. Mold can begin to grow in as little as 24-48 hours, so keep leaks to a minimum to keep mold from sprouting.
- Consider replacing existing exhaust fans in your bathrooms and laundry room with a model that has a humidity sensor. These new exhaust fans can be set to detect humidity levels and automatically turn on if the humidity gets above the desired level.
How We Can Help – If your home was not properly maintained, you could have a moisture issue. As part of our dry rot services, we inspect for structural integrity, rot, mold, and other deficiencies. We will remove and dispose of rotten wood, do mold remediation as needed, install exhaust fans with humidity sensors in bathrooms and laundry rooms to keep humidity levels down, and help you see where the problem originated so together we can prevent it from happening again.