Wood rot around your home is a big issue that often goes under a homeowner’s radar—until it’s too late.
A leaky window or cracking sill is an indication of wood rot around windows, but it’s also a sign the problem has escalated. Here’s what you need to know to head off the issue of wood rot before it destroys your windowsills or foundation and becomes an expensive problem.
What Causes Wood Rot?
The short answer is that moisture causes wood to rot. While windows are built to withstand and protect your home from the effects of weather, improper window or siding installation, poor roof replacement or roofing damages, or gutter issues can lead to water seeping into your windowsills by not flowing out away from the home correctly.
Along the top of windows, flashing protects the window frame from moisture and leakage, allowing water to drain over the top of the window. If the flashing is damaged or missing, water sits on the top of the window casing and gets into the frame over time. When not adequately drained, water may also leak into the walls or posts of the house and lead to an even more significant issue.
Here’s an example of a home with this type of flashing issue. As you can see, the homeowner had wood rot throughout the sills and frames of their window due to moisture accumulation from gutter issues as well as a roofing issue.
When combined, pests and water lead to the perfect storm of wood rot and damage around windows, vents, and doors. Any area of your home with wood trim may experience this problem, but the frame surrounding many windows is made of wood and regularly exposed to moisture, making it extremely susceptible to rot and damage. Challenges with your siding (away from windows) can also create an escape zone for water to seep into, creating similar challenges.
Unfortunately, wood rot may go on for years before a homeowner notices the problem. When you realize there’s an infestation or wood rot problem, it may be too late for a small intervention. You may need to replace your windows and tear out the sill and frame entirely, replace full siding, or even worse, need structural changes and updates.
If you’re worried about the issue of wood rot around your home–in your windows, siding, or doors– take a few moments to examine your home for the early signs of wood rot.
Knowing the Signs of Wood Rot Around Your Home
Recently, we worked with a homeowner who had a big problem with wood rot in their door and windows that were recently replaced. When we arrived prior to replacing their door and windows, we noticed some paint peeling and chipping in the corner (very minimal) but generally, that is a sign that there is an underlying issue. Upon further exploration, we found that the issue was stemming from a faulty gutter with multiple seams as well as a poorly constructed, flat rubber roof that was allowing water to pool. Water was leaking in behind the siding and running into the frame. Carpenter ants feasting on the rotting wood had compounded the problem. As we investigated, we were amazed the corner of the roof was still standing, seeing as there was so much rot.
Here’s a special Tod & Todd’s Home Improvement Tips video, where we show the window damage this homeowner sustained from wood rot:
Don’t let this problem happen to you! It’s a big expense, and often, homeowners must replace their windows, doors, or siding entirely. If you do not fix the root cause of the issues (gutters, roofing, framing issues, etc), it is likely that these issues will occur again. Wood rot is one problem that is best addressed early on, at the first sign of an issue.
To check for signs of wood rot around your home, inspect the windowsills and frames. Are there any cracks or degraded looking areas? If there are holes or spots where the wood is crumbling, then there’s a problem.
Watch for signs of mildew as well. While most windows get condensation, it should accumulate on the inside of your windows. It may be necessary to prevent condensation with a dehumidifier, fan, or proper ventilation. If your windows accumulate a lot of condensation, it can lead to rotting of the surrounding wood. Condensation or fogging should never build up between windowpanes; this indicates seal failure.
The primary cause of wood rot around windows, doors, and siding is water running toward your home. If you notice gutters dripping water on your windows or at the base of your doors, or even down your siding, paint bubbling, or a window frame that seems constantly damp, it’s time to investigate. Improper flashing, older siding, and leaky gutters result in water pooling and buildup beneath the exterior trim of your house. Water should never, ever leak into your home, either.
Another indication of wood rot is carpenter ants or termites. If you start to see ants in your home, it means there’s a hole somewhere. Follow these visitors to their origin and address the problem head-on. Ants can do a great deal of damage before you even realize they’re living in your wood trim.
Lastly, if you see a spot that looks discolored, take a pencil, pen, or object to poke with, and press on the spot. If it seems soft to the touch, that is an indication that there is likely soft wood underneath from water damage and rot.
If homeowners watch for the signs and address them early, the remedy is often simple. You may need to repair a gutter, fix the flashing, or hire a professional to exterminate the pests. It’s imperative to correct the issue asap. Wood rot is a concern that shouldn’t wait.
Unfortunately, wood rot in one window or spot is rarely an isolated case, so stay diligent when watching for wood rot around your home. If you notice even small areas of decay, call us right away. Don’t wait!
Your Weather Tight expert will help you assess the issue and mitigate any damage your home has sustained. If it’s a quick fix, we’ll walk you through the solution. We will also help you decide if it’s time for replacement products or home remodeling. Weather Tight does not specialize in repair work, but a lot of times, when an issue becomes noticeable, replacement products are needed, and we are happy to help you address what you may need.
Your home is your castle. Don’t let it crumble due to wood rot. Tackle it right away by calling Weather Tight today!