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How to Deal with Wood Rot on Your House Siding

Wood rot is a common problem that affects many homes, especially those with wooden siding. Wood rot can cause serious damage to the structure and appearance of your house, and it can also attract pests and mold. Therefore, it is important to identify and repair wood rot as soon as possible, before it spreads and worsens.

What is Wood Rot and What Causes It?

Wood rot is the decay of wood caused by fungi that feed on the cellulose and lignin in the wood. Fungi need moisture, oxygen, and a suitable temperature to grow and thrive. Therefore, wood rot usually occurs when wood is exposed to water or high humidity for a long period of time.
There are many possible sources of moisture that can lead to wood rot, such as:
– Roof leaks
– Plumbing leaks
– Poor drainage
– Improper flashing
– Cracked or peeling paint
– Damaged caulking
– Missing or damaged gutters
– Sprinklers or hoses
– Condensation
– Humid climate
Wood rot can also be caused or aggravated by insect damage, such as termites, carpenter ants, or wood-boring beetles. These insects can create holes or tunnels in the wood, allowing moisture and fungi to enter and spread.

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How to Prevent Wood Rot?

The best way to prevent wood rot is to keep your wood siding dry and well-maintained. Here are some tips to prevent wood rot:
– Inspect your roof regularly and fix any leaks or damaged shingles.
– Inspect your plumbing system and fix any leaks or drips.
– Ensure proper drainage around your house and away from the foundation.
– Install and maintain flashing around windows, doors, chimneys, and other openings.
– Repaint your wood siding every few years and use a high-quality exterior paint that resists moisture and UV rays.
– Replace any damaged or missing caulking around windows, doors, and joints.
– Clean and repair your gutters and downspouts regularly and make sure they direct water away from your house.
– Avoid spraying water directly on your wood siding or near the foundation.
– Control the humidity level inside your house and use a dehumidifier if needed.
– Treat your wood siding with a fungicide or a wood preservative to prevent fungal growth.

How to Detect Wood Rot?

Wood rot can be hard to detect, especially in its early stages. Sometimes, the wood may look normal on the surface, but be rotten inside. Therefore, it is important to inspect your wood siding regularly and look for signs of wood rot, such as:
– Discoloration or staining of the wood
– Softness or sponginess of the wood
– Cracks or splits in the wood
– Warping or shrinking of the wood
– Loose or missing nails or screws
– Peeling or bubbling paint
– Musty or moldy smell
– Fungal growth or spores on the wood
– Insect holes or frass (sawdust-like material) on the wood
To test for wood rot, you can use a screwdriver or a knife and poke the wood gently. If the wood is soft, crumbly, or easily penetrated, it is likely rotten. You can also use a moisture meter to measure the moisture content of the wood. If the wood has more than 20% moisture, it is susceptible to wood rot.

How to Fix Wood Rot?

The best way to fix wood rot is to remove and replace the affected wood. However, this may not always be feasible or cost-effective, depending on the location and extent of the damage. In some cases, you may be able to repair the wood rot by using epoxy filler, wood hardener, or wood patching products. These products can help restore the strength and appearance of the wood, but they may not stop the fungal growth or prevent future rot.
To fix wood rot, you will need to follow these steps:
– Identify the source of the moisture and fix it. This may involve repairing your roof, plumbing, drainage, flashing, or paint.
– Remove any loose or damaged paint, caulking, or nails from the wood siding.
– Cut out the rotten wood using a saw, chisel, or router. Make sure to remove all the decayed wood and leave a clean and smooth surface.
– Treat the remaining wood with a fungicide or a wood preservative to kill any remaining fungi and prevent further decay.
– Fill the hole or gap with epoxy filler, wood hardener, or wood patching product. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the product evenly and smoothly. You may need to use a putty knife, a spatula, or a syringe to apply the product.
– Sand the repaired area and make it level with the surrounding wood. You may need to use a sandpaper, a file, or a rasp to smooth the surface.
– Repaint the repaired area and match it with the rest of the wood siding. You may need to use a primer, a paintbrush, or a roller to apply the paint.

Who to Call for Wood Rot Repair?

If you are handy and confident, you may be able to fix wood rot yourself, following the steps above. However, if the wood rot is extensive, severe, or hard to reach, you may need to hire a professional to handle the job. The question is, who should you call for wood rot repair?
The answer depends on the cause and extent of the damage, as well as the type of repair needed. Generally speaking, you have three options: a carpenter, a general contractor, or a roofer.
– A carpenter is a skilled tradesperson who specializes in working with wood. A carpenter can handle most wood rot repairs, especially if they involve replacing or patching the wood siding. A carpenter can also fix any structural issues or damage caused by wood rot, such as sagging or cracked beams, joists, or rafters. A carpenter can also install new wood siding or trim, if needed.
– A general contractor is a professional who can coordinate and oversee the entire project, from start to finish. A general contractor can hire and manage the subcontractors, such as carpenters, plumbers, roofers, electricians, or painters, who are needed for the job. A general contractor can also handle the permits, inspections, and insurance claims, if applicable. A general contractor is a good option if the wood rot repair involves multiple aspects of the house, such as the roof, the plumbing, the electrical, or the interior.
– A roofer is a specialist who can repair or replace your roof, as well as any related components, such as flashing, vents, or gutters. A roofer is a good option if the wood rot is caused by a roof leak or damage, or if the wood rot affects the roof or the attic. A roofer can also inspect your roof and identify any potential problems or vulnerabilities that may lead to future wood rot.
To decide who to call for wood rot repair, you should first assess the situation and determine the cause and extent of the damage. You should also consider your budget, your timeline, and your expectations. You can also get multiple quotes from different professionals and compare their services, prices, and reviews. Ultimately, you should choose the professional who can provide the best quality, value, and satisfaction for your wood rot repair project.

Conclusion

Wood rot is a serious problem that can affect your house siding and compromise its structure and appearance. Wood rot is caused by fungi that feed on moist wood, and it can be prevented by keeping your wood siding dry and well-maintained. If you detect wood rot, you should fix it as soon as possible, before it spreads and worsens. You can fix wood rot by removing and replacing the rotten wood, or by using epoxy filler, wood hardener, or wood patching products. Depending on the cause and extent of the damage, you may need to hire a carpenter, a general contractor, or a roofer to handle the job. By choosing the right professional, you can ensure a complete and permanent wood rot repair.
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