4 Telltale signs your home has wood rot

You love the look, feel, and color of wood. The eye-catching shades of brown, tan, and gold complement your home’s décor and give each room a feeling of warmth and relaxation.

But despite wood’s natural strength and durability, your flooring, moldings, trim work, and framing do have one weakness: rot. And if left untreated, wood rot compromises your home’s structural integrity and puts your health at risk.

Carefully inspect your home for the following signs of wood rot.

1. Fungal Growth and Spores

Dry and wet rot are common terms for fungi that feed on timber. Both fungi and spores thrive in moist, damp environments.

As fungus grows in your home, you’ll often see a silky gray or mushroom colored skin develop along the affected areas.

Sometimes this fruiting body has patches of yellow or lilac, while other times you’ll see fluffy white, wool-like spores around the growth.

If you feel particularly brave, you could put on a pair of gloves and peel away the growth. The consistency of the skin will feel much like a typical mushroom. But don’t forget that removing the skin will not remove the source of the rot.

2. Shrinking and Cracking

Plant cell walls consist primarily of cellulose, a long chain of sugar molecules that give wood its structure and strength. And to grow and produce spores, fungus feeds on the wood’s cellulose.

As the rot spreads, the wood becomes brittle and turns a darker color. Eventually, the wood shrinks until it cracks and its strength is compromised.

When you inspect your home for wood rot, look for cubical cracks in your window and door frames, at the bottom of your sink cabinets, and beneath your patio or deck. These areas tend to support a great deal of weight and see more moisture than other parts of your house, so the cracking will seem more obvious.

3. Musty Odors

Fungus plays an important role in Mother Nature. It breaks down dead, organic materials and restores nutrients to the soil. Inside your home, fungus tries to fulfill that role by breaking down your wooden structures.

As the decay progresses, you’ll smell an earthy, musty odor. This smell may become stronger in poorly ventilated areas, such as the basement or crawlspace.

Of course, if you’ve lived in your home for a while, you might not notice the scent immediately. To pinpoint the source of the problem, you’ll want to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air before you follow your nose.

4. Blistering Wallpaper or Paint

Depending on your building’s design and decoration, wooden sections of your home may hide underneath layers of wallpaper or paint. But these decorative materials don’t stop rot from spreading, nor do they mask rot’s appearance for long.

As the fungus grows beneath your wall covering, it pushes up against the material. Over time, the pressure causes the paint or wallpaper to bubble and blister.

Occasionally, water also becomes trapped between your wall’s surface and the outer layers of paint. As heat causes the water to evaporate and expand, it may also cause your paint to bubble and blister-no fungus required. But because rot thrives in moist environments, you can bet that fungus won’t be too far behind.

Does Your Home Have Wood Rot?

If you notice any of the above signs, call your local contractor immediately. He or she can then help you determine the source of moisture and remove any affected wooden materials.

Keep in mind that most contractors have to cut several inches beyond the rotten wood to prevent contamination. But once your contractor has eliminated the rot, he or she can take steps to restore your home and advise you on the best methods to protect against future outbreaks.

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SRK General Construction LLC

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