Dealing With Dry Rot

Dry rot is always a concern in extreme weather areas -- ones which
go from 100+ degree summers to foggy wet winters. Weather such
as this stresses building materials to create ideal conditions for dry
rot to develop. Learning to take steps to prevent it, and catch it early
when it does develop, can save homeowners time and money.

Q: There is obviously something wrong with the wood around my
porch, which my neighbor says is dry rot. What is that?
A: Dry rot is a generic term for a variety of wood fungi, which cause
mildew, mold, staining and decaying in wood. In order for dry rot to
develop, it requires a certain combination of moisture and heat and
air. If the conditions are right, it can occur before you can visually
detect it, within four to six months.
The reason that it becomes a problem is that infected wood loses its
structural integrity. Once detected, this damaged wood must be
totally replaced, or the fungi, which are living organisms, will
continue to spread and cause more damage. Dry rot can also attract
pests such as termites, which will only compound the problem.
Repairing dry rot cannot be postponed, because the damage will
only increase, as will the cost of repair.

Q: Where is dry rot most likely to develop?
A: Dry rot can be found both inside and outside your home. The
most common areas inside are the bathroom, under kitchen sinks, in
window sills around sweating windows, in thresholds near sliding
glass doors, in the attic from a leaky roof and in the walls,
particularly in homes which have a concrete slab foundation.
Outside, dryrot can occur in wood siding, eaves of the roof, decks
and other wooden landscape structures and around the windows.

Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent dry rot?
A: In the bathroom: Shower doors should be caulked and sealed
properly to prevent leaking. Plumbing fixtures should also be
caulked. Replace cracked or broken tiles or missing grout in the
shower and bath areas. Look for signs of leaking or water staining
around the base of the toilet. Check the baseboard or moldings for
signs of mildew. Also keep an eye on walls which adjoin the
bathroom – mildew can grow on a closet wall adjacent to the
bathroom, for example.
Throughout the house: Check for moisture under any of the sinks.
Inspect the attic for roof leaks and moisture from improperly vented
dryers or exhaust fans. If you have a slab foundation, check walls
behind the furniture for mildew. If you have a raised foundation,
check under the house for excessive moisture. Periodically, run a
test by turning on the water in the shower and/or tub and look under
the house for leaks.
Outdoors: Check the placement of your sprinkler heads to make
sure there is no direct spray hitting your house. Make sure shrubs
and plants growing next to the house don't touch the siding because
they can hold moisture. Check around hose bibs to detect leaks.
Check the roof eaves; the wood will be soft or may show a white
powdery residue. It may be caused by improperly installed roof
flashing, a roof leak, or you may need gutters. Around decks, look
for earth-to wood contact next to posts or any wood members and
under potted plants. It's a good idea to treat decks with a wood
preservative.

Q: What do I do if I discover dry rot?
A: Call a licensed general contractor who specializes in dry rot repair
or a pest control company to assess the damage and recommend
solutions. A licensed pest control operator should do the initial
inspection, then get three competitive bids from licensed general
contractors to do the repairs. Make sure that the person you hire is
properly licensed and has experience in working with dry rot.
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