Six things you need to know about wood-decay fungus and how to prevent it
Did you know that wood-decay fungus can cause damage to your home more quickly than termites can? When excess moisture accumulates on the wood in your home, wood-decaying fungus can form, which lessens the strength of the wood significantly, threatening its structural integrity.
What is wood-decay fungus? It’s technically a plant that lacks chlorophyll and, because it is unable to manufacture its own food, it feeds off plant cells in the wood beams, supports, posts of a structure, fence, or deck. The fungus secretes enzymes that break down the wood into usable food, thus causing potentially serious and costly damage.
What allows wood-decaying fungus to survive? Oxygen, favorable temperatures, water, and food are needed for the destructive fungus to establish itself. Fungus typically occurs when the moisture content of wood exceeds 20 to 30 percent, an optimal temperature (between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) is reached, and there is an adequate supply of oxygen along with suitable sources of energy and nutrients.
Clark, your neighborly termite, lawn care, and pest control expert, visited with Nathan Pops, service manager at Clark Pest Control’s Rancho Cordova service center, to discuss what you should know about wood-decay fungus, how you can prevent it and, if your home has it, how to repair it properly.
1. Gutters and roofing materials: Leaking gutters and damaged or missing shingles or roof tiles are the leading causes of wood-decay fungus on roof boards, fascia boards, etc.
2. Exterior wood siding and frames: Certain types of wood siding (press board material) is susceptible to moisture issues, so priming and painting is important to seal moisture out. Caulking around window and door trim keeps water from seeping into crevices and building up.
3. Sprinkler systems: If your sprinkler system is not adjusted properly and is spraying wood siding, or has leaks that cause excess moisture near ground-contacting wood, readjust the sprinkler heads. This way, they won’t irrigate your house to attract pests and cause moisture buildup.
4. Landscape debris: Excess landscape debris or mulch that collects or is placed behind shrubs, bushes, trees, and other plants can build up on wood siding, trapping moisture and causing fungus. Keep the grade level away from siding – three to six inches is recommended – and maintain a mulch- and debris-free barrier around your foundation.
5. Inside your home: There are multiple areas inside your home where excess moisture can build up. Shower doors and valves, sink faucets, toilets, kitchen sinks, and bathtub bases that are not caulked properly can leak water to support beams, subfloors, and wall voids below and behind. Be sure to caulk around tub bases (a dripping shower curtain can provide a water source), backsplashes, around toilet bases, etc. because oftentimes wood decay can occur out of sight and out of mind.
6. Underneath your home: The crawlspace underneath your home is ripe for wood-decay fungus if it is not properly ventilated. Vents should be installed every seven feet, and if a highwater table exists in your area, a sump pump or French drains might be needed to get the water out.
Pops recalls a case in Sacramento where a homeowner hired a contractor to renovate the front porch, and the foundation was redone with new cement. The contractor, however, did not install enough vent screens, and when Pops entered the crawlspace for an inspection, he could instantly feel the elevated moisture content. The water was trapped inside, and excessive condensation had built up on the wood members and floor joists, causing 15 to 20 feet worth of damage.
How to avoid fungus-rot wood damage
- Make sure your gutters are in good shape and not leaking water.
- Have your roof inspected regularly, and if repairs are needed, have the work done by a qualified contractor, using the correct materials.
- Be sure to check for openings around roof vents, chimneys, and other places that could allow water inside.
- Caulk around windows and doors.
- Paint bare or peeling spots on wood siding to seal moisture out.
- Adjust sprinkler heads so they do not irrigate the house.
- Schedule an annual inspection for signs of fungus rot and termites.
Signs of wood-decay damage and what to do about repairs
What are signs your home may have wood-decay damage? Pops says you may see little mushrooms emerging out of wood members, bubbling or loosening wood and peeling paint, and wood that is soft to the touch.
If the damage requires repairs, Pops says to make sure you work with a licensed, reputable contractor who follows all building codes and regulations.
This is what sets Clark Pest Control apart from others. Clark’s extensively trained professional inspectors and repair crews use only the highest quality materials (e.g., only using real, pre-primed wood) and follow all professional techniques and building code requirements when making repairs.
If you have questions or concerns about identifying, preventing, or repairing damage caused by wood-decay fungus in your home, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Clark offers complete turnkey solutions to protect your home from wood-decay fungus.
Until next time, I’m Clark and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.