Unless you’re lucky enough to be spending your summer at the beach, you’ve noticed all the rain the area has been getting lately. D.C.’s legendary thunderstorms bring blessed relief in the form of cooler temperatures and deep soakings for thirsty lawns and flowerbeds baked hard by the sun.

The bad news is that for all the good water does for your landscaping, it’s just as harmful, if not more, to your house. All that excess moisture can lead to wood rot and expensive repair costs.

Wood damage that goes undetected or is not immediately taken care of can lead to big problems down the road.

What is wood rot?

Wood rot is created by varying types of fungus that use moisture to break down and eat through wood.

Where does it happen?

Any place you have moisture and wood – siding, decks, doors, trim – you have the perfect breeding conditions for wood rot.

What can you do?

You can’t prevent it entirely, but you can spot it early and stop it in its tracks. The key to protecting your house is to identify and eliminate wood rot as quickly as you can. Every few months, grab a flat-head screwdriver or a similar tool and poke around these key areas:

  • Door frames
  • Window sills
  • Roof (if it can be safely done) and attic
  • Behind gutters and downspouts*
  • Trim that doesn’t drain well, especially corners and horizontal areas like windowsills and the tops of doors

*probably the #1 overlooked spot.

What to look for?

Check for peeling paint, which is a sign that water has penetrated the wood. Discolorations, especially a dark green hue, mean that algae has begun to take hold. Keep an eye out for white rot (spongy wood with a white or yellow tint) and brown rot (dry and powdery wood that has cracked into cube shapes). Gently push your screwdriver against any suspect areas. If the tip sinks into the wood without much resistance you have some work to do.

Ceiling leaks can be tricky, water often seeps along the attic floor or rafters for a few feet before dripping down into the ceiling – meaning they don’t always appear exactly where they start. To locate the source of any leaks, measure the water stain’s location from the nearest outside wall then find this point in the attic using a measuring tape.

What else can go wrong?

Besides wood rot, other moisture-based hazards include insect infestation and the appearance of molds and bacteria, which can cause allergic reactions and infectious diseases while drastically lowering the resale value of your house (most buyers are out the door the second they hear the word “mold,” no matter what’s been done about it). According to the EPA, mold can begin to germinate within 48 hours if moisture isn’t eradicated.

When it comes to moisture, it pays to be vigilant. After all, what good is a lush, healthy-looking lawn if your house is rotting from within?

For more thoughts on moisture protection and solutions, contact fred today.