Friday, December 30, 2016

Does Wood Rot Spread? Is It Contagious?

Wood rot is definitely contagious under certain conditions. But, once you understand that wood rot is a type of fungus—along with the mechanism that the fungus uses to spread and the conditions necessary for it to infect an area of wood—then your diligent maintenance will stop rot from appearing at new areas of wood.

 Here’s are our “Three Rules of Rot”:

  1. 1) Existing wood rot fungus colonies are constantly sending our spores into the air. These spores are floating around pretty much everywhere in the wind. It’s not necessary to have an area of wood rot nearby for spores to land on an exposed surface of wood. There are likely already plenty of wood rot spores on the surface of any wood exposed to outdoor, unfiltered air.
  1. 2) Moisture is necessary for the spores to begin growth. It can either be in the form of extremely high humidity that raises the moisture content of the wood over time (in a poorly ventilated crawl space under an elevated wood floor, for example), or lumber that has not been sufficiently kiln-dried at the factory to reduce the moisture content to under 20%, or water soaking into the wood surface.
  1. 3) Warm air temperature is also necessary for wood rot to flourish, although it possible for it to grow at temperatures down to nearly freezing.
While warm temperature is a component, the main trigger for wood rot to begin is moisture in the wood. The number one type of defect we see that causes rot at exterior wood siding and trim is any surface that allows rain water to puddle on the wood without draining or to seep into any openings between pieces of wood. This is called a “water trap” by builders, and a good craftsman works to make sure than any horizontal surfaces, such as window sills, have a slight slope to the outside so that no water puddling occurs, along with carefully caulking around windows and trim to seal out wind-blown rain out. Maintaining paint as a barrier on the surface of the wood is also important.

If you find areas of wood rot on the exterior of your home, be sure to repair the area in such a way to eliminate any future water traps. Also, rot at the bottom of plywood exterior siding is often due to splash-back of rain water off the ground from a roof overhang above. The worst location for splash-back areas of rot is where the roof drains onto a patio or driveway, and the best preventive measure is to install a gutter system over the area.

Another location where wood rot can develop is in the attic at leaking roof penetrations, such as in the photo at the top of the page of the roof sheathing below a leaky chimney flashing.  Landscape sprinklers that regularly spray on the wood trim of a house can also accelerate rot, like in the photo below.

A wood rot inspection begins with a visual scan of wood surfaces, looking for any discoloration, sunken areas, and locations of previous repairs. The SitePro inspectors uses a probing device, such as screwdriver or knife, to locate soft spots in the wood surface indicative of rot. Then an electronic moisture meter may be used as follow-up, to see if there if the wood is currently wet.
   An experienced inspector knows that there are certain locations that are more likely to have wood rot than others, and probes those places carefully even if there is no visible evidence of a problem. Here’s examples of nine areas that get special attention:

  1. 1)Wood fascia and soffit - especially at corners, as in the photo above. 
  1. 2)Window sills - The top face should slant downward away from the way of the home but, as the paint deteriorates, this is an early area to get spots of rot growth.

 3)Window and door trim - Water seeping into the joint between two pieces of trim has caused the damage below.

4)Bottoms of corner boards at siding - Although this is an example of advanced rot, if the bottom of the corner boards is not painted at time of construction and there is splash-back from rain falling on the ground close below it, most corner boards will develop a half-inch or so of rot at base within the first five years after construction.

5)Any wood around a chimney or other roof penetration - Any roof penetration  is a good candidate for wood rot in the sheathing around it if the flashing is not installed properly or maintained, but chimneys are especial prone to leak as the flashing ages.

6)Bottom of plywood siding near the ground - Caused by splash-back of rain from the roof overhang above the siding

7)Underside of wood flooring around toilets, bathtubs, and showers in an older home with elevated wood floors and a crawl space - Small plumbing leaks that go unnoticed can create big problems in the floor structure below.

8)Base of porch columns - Bottom of wood columns that are in contact with the porch floor will suck up the moisture of any standing water around it. In this case, a sprinkler head nearby was also spraying directly on the wood.

9)Wood decks - Because of direct exposure to the weather, a wood deck has a 15 to 20-year estimated useful life at best. But when the deck is built close to the ground, as in the photo below, the lack of ventilation between wood and ground allows high humidity from ground moisture to buildup underneath and  speed up the process.

 Most of these locations are called “water traps” in the construction industry, meaning that they allow water to settle on the surface or to seep into a joint.

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How Can I Make Sure My House Doesn't Fail The Home Inspection?

Home inspectors don’t make a home fail the inspection, but a homebuyer struggling through a long list of defects in the inspection report will do it. Although no home is perfect with zero issues to write up, the fewer things your inspector lists on the report the better. So we recommend preparing for the inspection by taking a few hours to find and take care of all the easy-to-fix minor problems.

You can also speed up the inspection by making sure everything is accessible for the inspector. The strategy is to shorten both the report and the inspector’s time at the house, which will make everybody happier. Here’s our “Top 10” list of suggestions:

1) Make sure the electric, water, and gas are turned on if the house is not occupied. Scheduling the local utility to turn them on at the day of the inspection is asking for trouble. Do it before.

2) Unlock any locked areas that the inspector needs to get into, and the space under the attic access hatch or ladder should be clear.

3) Clear the area in front of the electric panel, water heater, and HVAC system. The inspector will need to remove the covers of the electric panel and furnace/air handler, so provide sufficient space.

4) Take your pets out of the home during the inspection, or secure them out of the way. They will be a distraction under foot for the buyer and home inspector.

5) Replace any burned-out light bulbs and make sure that hand-held remotes for ceiling fans or wall air conditioner are easy to find. Inspectors don’t do trouble shooting on fixtures that don’t work. They just write them up and move on.

6) Test the smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors, and replace any dead batteries or non-functional units.

7) Check the air filters on your HVAC system, and replace or clean them if necessary. When there are air filters are at multiple return air registers, be sure to locate all of them.

8) Trim tree branches and bushes away from the walls and roof of the house.

9) Remove any stored items, and especially wood, from around the base of the home. These items can act as a “termite highway” to aid and conceal running their mud tubes into the home.

10) Repair or replace any broken or damaged minor components in the home, like doorknobs, latches, window panes, screens, gutters and downspouts, switch and receptacle cover plates.

Homebuyers can be fickle and sometimes cancel their sales contract for reasons that are beyond your control. But each item you fix is one less on the inspection summary, and one less reason for them to be anxious about their purchase. Just don’t worry about dust or whether the beds are made. Inspectors do not evaluate housekeeping.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you the joy of family, the gift of friends, and the best of everything in 2017!

Happy Holidays from SitePro Home Inspections!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Kitchen Design Tips: Choosing Faucets, Sinks, Appliances & Light Fixtures

In this episode, Reiko picks a sleek apron-front stainless steel sink, and chooses to have the faucet installed without its base plate or soap dispenser for aesthetic reasons. Industrial-chic pendant lights add brightness and personality. Get tips on the right height to hang a light fixture in the kitchen and how much distance is needed between a gas range and the range hood. Plus, see how a counter-depth French door refrigerator fits seamlessly into the design.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Stains: Getting out Wax | Consumer Reports

Candles are beautiful, but wax on your antique napkins is not. Consumer Reports shows you how to remove wax safely from any surface.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pretty All-Red Christmas Living Room

Embrace the monochromatic trend this holiday season with our all-red Christmas d├ęcor ideas.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kitchen Design Tips: Choosing Your Countertop & Backsplash Materials

H&H’s Reiko Caron and contractor Dave Depencier create a dream open-concept kitchen. In this episode, Reiko picks the countertop material and backsplash tile, and reveals a stylish and colourful kitchen island.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Tree Fires Can Turn Devastating and Deadly Within Seconds

A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which burns at a much slower rate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday Stains: Getting out Red Wine | Consumer Reports

Don't let a guest's spill ruin your tablecloth. Consumer Reports' red wine stain recipe can help you remove a red wine stain.