Wood Rot Is A Fact Of Life In The Northern Neck.
Most Northern Neck homes are built with wood, and whenever water meets wood, water wins.
Wood has been and will always be the leading building product in our area. Its versatility and strength are hard to beat, but it comes with a downside – it can rot!
There are several reasons why you may encounter wood rot:
- Poor flashing on your roof can direct water into the house, causing leaks.
- Poor or non-existent flashing around the siding, deck, doors, windows or trim can cause extensive water damage which may migrate into the framing of the house and cause structural damage.
- Poor venting of the house can cause moisture build up which can slowly eat away at the structure of the house.
Repairing the damage itself is only the first step toward solving the problem – we have to find the underlying cause and correct that as well.
Types of Rot
Wet Rot – When wood is left saturated in water without drying out, it decays. This is called “wet rot.” The wood will feel soft or “punky.” This problem is most common when the house gets wet and doesn’t dry.
Dry Rot – If the wood gets wet and then dries, a fungus called Serpula Lacrymans can grow. As the wet/dry process is repeated, the fungus may spread. We call this “dry rot.” The fungus is invasive and will destroy a structure over time, so it must be removed. The wood will feel dry but will crumble when touched.
How to Prevent Wood Rot
Flashing, whether metal or plastic, is your first line of defense. This will direct water over and away from the wood and preserve its integrity. Any builder worth their salt will flash over every piece of trim.
One of the most common areas for rot to occur is at the cuts of the trim or siding. This “end grain” acts like a sponge and can suck in a lot of water quickly. All wood trim and siding needs to be “end grain” primed prior to being installed.
Alternatives to Wood
The house is constructed with wood, so staying aware of the consequences of rot is a good idea. There is no “rot resistant” replacement that has comparable structural strength, so repairs will usually be made with wood again.
There are several “rot resistant” products on the market these days for the cosmetic components (trim, siding) of a home that are popular, however these are for cosmetic purposes only, not structural use. They are:
This is the most popularly requested product.
Pros – 1) Will not rot. 2) Does not need to be painted. 3) You can plug the holes with PVC plug system.
Cons – 1) The material expands and contracts with temperature variations, so expansion joints must be incorporated. 2) You should also not paint it a dark color since that absorbed heat will add to the expansion of the material. 3) If left unpainted, all caulked joints and factory edges will begin to show dirt within a year.
Pros – 1) They are “bullet proof” and very sturdy in almost all applications. 2) No large expansion and contraction.
Cons – 1) Does not last well around vents with a lot of moisture. It tends to puff up like Filo dough. 2) Must be painted.
Pros- 1) Cuts just like wood. 2) No large expansion and contraction.
Cons – 1) Must be painted.
If you decide to use any of these rot resistant products, it is important to make sure the cause of the problem is resolved, because if water gets behind these materials, they will hide any future problems you have, potentially causing even more damage.
Do Not Wait To Get It Fixed.
Wood rot gets worse with time and the longer you wait to address it, the more expensive the repair will be. As soon as you see signs of rot anywhere around the home, contact us 804-436-3463 so we can take a look.
Rot Repair Cost
All rot repair work is done on a time and materials basis, rather than a fixed price. It’s just too difficult to estimate the extent of the damage and repairs needed at the outset of the project.
Is Rot Covered by Insurance?
Sometimes, yes! Check with your insurance agent or insurance company to verify if you have a rider on the policy that covers rot.