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Wood Rot: A Common Crawl Space Problem

We all know that wood decays when it comes into contact with water. That’s not an issue for many homeowners. Humidity, however, is and it can have similar effects on your home.

Let’s go over the types of wood rot, signs, causes, and prevention tips.

What Is Wood Rot?

Wood rot or decay is a natural process through which wood decomposes. Wood rot is a nightmare for homeowners because it leads to many structural problems such as deteriorated roof decking, destroyed support beams and posts, and unstable ceiling joists and floor panels.

Wood repair is a costly undertaking. That’s why, as a homeowner, you need to know the signs of wood rot so you can take appropriate measures to protect your vulnerable wooden structures and supports.

What Causes Wood Rot?

Moisture is often the major culprit and it can arise due to poor ventilation, plumbing leaks, or condensation. Leaks, penetrating moisture, and blocked gutters/downspouts are other sources of moisture. Your plumber or local crawl space expert can help you uncover the sources of wood decay. This way, you’ll be able to take appropriate action before things take a turn for the worse.

Wood Rot Prevention Tips

The number one way to avoid wood rot is to eliminate moisture. Consider an interior drainage system and wall vapor barrier if the problem is in your basement. Encapsulation, and a possible dehumidifier is the best way to prevent wood rot in a crawl space. Regular gutter and downspout cleaning also helps move water out and away from your home where it can cause problems.

For other areas, using pressure-treated or decay-resistant lumber for the construction of decks. If you are making something out of wood, make sure you paint every side before you assemble it. When using wood, use rot-resistant wood such as redwood, mahogany, teak, cedar, or white oak.

Types of Wood Rot

Not all wood rot is the same because each manifestation comes with a specific set of destructive enzymes and attacks differently. It can be classified into brown, soft, and white rot according to different fungi types that cause the rotting.

  • Brown Rot

    Brown rot is also called dry rot because the rotting wood appears dry on the surface. The fungi that cause brown rot targets the wood structure cellulose. As it destroys the cellulose, the wood begins to shrink, turn brown, and break into bits, causing what is called cubical fracture.

    This type of rot starts as a very tiny molecule but spreads rapidly as soon as it attacks. It can thrive at a temperature of 65 to 90 degrees.
  • Soft Rot

    The fungi responsible for soft rot secrete enzyme cellulose that generates tiny holes in the wood. The fungi thrive in very hot, cold, or wet areas of between 0 and 110 degrees.

    Once it attacks, the wood discolors and begins to crack, but this process is slower than the brown rot. It leaves the wood with a honeycomb-like appearance. This mostly attacks trees and logs, but it can also wreak havoc in homes as long as conditions allow for it.
  • White Rot

    White rot on the wood comes with a light yellow or whitish shade with a spongy feel. This rot attacks both the structural cellulose and the lignin of the wood.  This occurs when you expose your wood to temperatures of between 65 and 90 degrees.

    There are many types of enzymes that cause white rot and some can be so strong that they oxidize the lignin. A good example is the honey mushroom, which attacks live trees and can cause immense damage. Some of the enzymes appear so harmless and are even edible. Take the example of the delicious Shiitake mushroom.

Contact your local Groundworks waterproofing expert today and schedule a free inspection and repair estimate. Once our team has assessed your home, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re up against, and we’ll recommend the best solutions tailored to your specific repair needs.