What is dry-rot? Unfortunately, wood rots. Unless kept dry and in the right environment wood, being a natural material, eventually decays. How long it takes and how badly it rots depends on a lot of factors. The first factor is the type of wood, and most important, whether or how the wood is protected from moisture. Keep wood dry, and in the right environment it can last for many centuries. Wood doesn't rot if it's dry, but in the final stages of rot, wood can appear dry. Crawlspaces, especially low-to-the-ground spaces, are typically bad rot areas. Look for wood discoloration. Take an ice pick, awl or sharp screwdriver. If you suspect an area, use the tool to punch into the wood to determine if it is still solid, or if the wood is soft and "punky". The next step is to feel any suspect spots for dampness. If you feel any dampness at all, you probably have a problem. Damp wood is the perfect breeding and feeding ground for termites and other wood-loving insects. These insects can damage your home's structural soundness.
What can I do? Sometimes wood that is infected with fungus can be saved if you catch the problem quickly enough and the source of moisture is eliminated When there's structural damage, such as floor joists or sub floors, sound new boards may be "scabbed" or fastened to the rotted boards to provide strength after raising the supporting boards with jacks. But, make sure the moisture is gone before installing new boards or you simply lock the moisture between the two, resulting in further rot problems. If in doubt about the structural integrity of the construction of the building, it is wise to have a building inspector look at the problem. Most often structural wood replacement is expensive and often quite challenging, requiring professional help. Unchecked moisture and the resulting fungus can not only create structural and interior wood damage, but also damage books, clothing, carpeting, wall coverings and furniture, as well as produce a musty odor. Don't let it rot. Make it a yearly affair to inspect for possible rot problems and correct them as soon as possible.
All information on this page was obtained through the Extreme How To Web page for contractors and handymen: www.extremehowto.com .