Wood Rot in Crawl Spaces

One of the unfortunate side effects of bad crawlspace science from the last century is one of the most severely damaging decaying forces on household wood….. dry rot.

Wood rot is a deteriorating of wood caused by one of several species of fungus. The fungus digests the parts of the wood that give the wood strength and stiffness. The damaged wood is usually somewhat dry, hence the name dry rot, and brittle.

Ironically, dry rot occurs from too much moisture in contact with the wood. The wood rot fungus has the uncanny ability to transfer water from wet areas to dry areas allowing the fungus to grow in relatively dry wood. If not stopped the dry rot fungus will so weaken wood that it may eventually disintegrate. In fact, up to a 75% loss in the toughness of wood is possible with just a 1% decrease in the wood’s weight of the wood.

Wood Rot in the Structural Wood Components of the Crawlspace

Floor Joists, Sill Plates, Wood Beams & Girders, Band boards, and Subfloors are all susceptible to wood rot in vented crawlspaces with groundwater flooding.

Floor Joists have a tendency to start rotting at any point of contact from moisture such as from the sill plate or band board.  The rot usually begins at the sill plate contact, and then works itself into the center of the joist.  The Crawlspace Company has more experience at replacing joists or sistering joists than any other in the industry.

Sill Plates installed prior to the 1990′s are usually comprised of non treated lumber, thus inviting termite infestation and dry rot. Sill plates typically are the first point of contact with moisture from the foundation and are the first floor components to rot.  Replacing sill plates is a specialty of The Crawlspace Company because we have developed a technique whereby we gently lift the floor structure to replace the sill plate.

Wood Beams will incur moisture from the block support columns supporting them.  The moisture “wicking” up the blocks from the ground aid in the rot process.  Once the wood beams begin to rot, they must be completely removed and replaced.  A common but improper technique to repair beams is to sandwich the rotted wood with two new boards on either side. This repair will not last. The Crawlspace Company has replaced thousands of feet of main center beam support.

Band boards are also a wood component that sometimes touches the foundation wall.  A band board is susceptible to moisture intrusion from all sides as it sits on the outside edge of the sill plate and floor joist.  Along with the sill plates, it is usually one of the first wood components that will rot.  The Crawlspace Company has several techniques for repairing the crawlspace rim joist or band-board.

Subfloor rot can occur from crawlspace moisture, but most commonly from leaking toilets and plumbing.  It is common in wet crawlspaces to see the perimeter edge of the subfloor rotting. The Crawlspace Company has many methods of restoring your rotted sub-floor or completely replacing it as well.

How to Prevent Wood Rot in a Crawlspace

The most important method to prevent dry rot damage in a crawlspace is to reduce or eliminate excessive moisture. To prevent wood rot in a crawlspace: Seal off all crawl space vents and openings. Encapsulate the crawl space with a heavy, durable liner, then install a crawl space dehumidifier or conditioning system. This will not only eliminate wood rot problems, but it will also create an environment that’s inhospitable to mold and musty odors, as well as aiding in keeping out termites, carpenter ants, cockroaches, crickets, and other household pests.

Wood rot is a serious problem. The wood-decay fungus irreversibly destroys the wood, so unless you take preventive measures, the fungus will more than triple every year. Give us a Call Today to schedule your Free Inspection.



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