How can you have a home that shines – one that’s easy to maintain and one that looks good too? By managing your home maintenance consistently over time, it’s far simpler to keep a healthy, well-maintained home. You can pursue exterior home improvement projects that add beauty to your home, and you can also choose projects that help you prevent or solve problems. Rot, mold, and related problems such as insect infestations can be devastating to your home, but with diligent preparation and maintenance, you can prevent these problems and have a healthy home for many years.
Why Rot Occurs
Rot is more complicated than you might imagine. If you harvest a carrot or a tree, each of these items is no longer growing, so it tends to decay and turn back into soil over time. However, trees have much better longevity than a carrot, which is one of the many reasons why we make houses out of them instead of root vegetables.
In order for rot to occur, you need a substrate such as wood, oxygen, warmth, and moisture. This is what fungi need to grow, and these tiny fungi start to decompose the wood. They use the cellulose and lignin in the wood. This can result in wood that looks like it’s intact but is actually soft and rotten. Even dry rot fungi need a little bit of moisture to get to work on your home.
These elements are hard to control. You can’t really remove oxygen from the equation, nor can you change the temperature outside your house. However, you can control the moisture levels around parts of your home. By reducing that element in the rot equation, you can help reduce the speed of decomposition of your home.
The Dangers of Rot in Your Home
Rot is dangerous to your home. It’s a problem because it can spread, and it impacts the structural integrity of your home. If you decide to insert a new skylight into a rotten roof, then you may not have anything to attach the skylight to if the roof is rotten. This is not just inconvenient: over time, your structures can become dangerous if rot spreads into load-bearing walls or into places like your front steps.
Rotten spaces also attract animals who like to use them for home and food: insects and other pests increase the speed of the damage to your home.
Health Dangers of Rot
Rot is dangerous to your health if it impacts your home’s structure because it can lead to injuries around the home. A rotten deck or a loose, rotten board on your stairs is not a safe place for you to walk.
Rot is also an indicator that moisture is present in your home. While moisture is essential to life, if it is in your home, it can breed bacteria and mold. These can be dangerous to your health. Also, according to Networx, the presence of pests in soft, rotten places can lead to health problems: “When there’s a lot of water damage in a home, there’s higher mouse allergens, there’s higher cockroach allergens.”
Common Locations of Rot Around Your Home
Where does rot live around your home? It can exist in many different places. Wherever moisture moves around your home, rot could be there.
- Home foundations
- The roof and fascia boards
- Decks, porches, and stairs
- Landscaping elements
How can you prevent rot from starting and spreading around your home?
Preventing Roof Rot
How do you prevent your roof from rotting? It’s an inside and an outside job.
- Work on the moisture levels in your attic, maintaining them between 40 to 60 percent humidity. Rot can occur from the inside of your roof if your attic is too wet from activities that go on in the house.
- Make sure that your roof is well-ventilated with ventilation such as ridge vents, soffit vents, or attic fans.
- Ensure that your roof drains well by adding a gutter cover and a gutter heating system if you live in a cold climate.
- Remove debris from your roof as it could cause water to pool.
- Check your roof regularly and fix it if it is rotten – before the rot spreads.
The fascia boards that connect your home and your gutters are also prone to rot, in part because they are close to leaky gutters. What can you do to keep them intact?
- Prevent moisture from getting in. Paint the ends and make sure that nails don’t split the boards when you install them.
- Use galvanized nails to avoid damage from degrading nails.
- Clean your gutters or attach a gutter guard so that water does not spill over and onto the fascia boards.
Preventing Rotten Decks and Porches
A rotten deck or porch is disheartening, especially if you spend a lot of time there in the summer. How can you prevent rot in this home structure?
- Make sure that you manage where the water flows in your garden and off your roof. Clean out or protect your gutters with gutter guards, and angle your landscaping so that water flows away from your home’s structures such as decks, patios, porches, and the foundation.
- According to Deck Magazine, certain types of decking are more rot-resistant: “Pressure-treated wood or rot-resistant species like cedar, redwood, or ipe” tend to resist rot, but even they are not totally immune to problems.
- Make sure that you give the deck a lip that extends over the fascia, so that water does not run right onto the fascia boards.
- Use larger beams instead of stacking a few together, to reduce places where water could collect.
Preventing Rotten Staircases
There are few things more startling than falling through a rotten stair – or slipping on the stairs because they are loose and rotten. How can you prevent this hazard to health and home?
- Use wood that is naturally rot-resistant, just as you did with your decks and porches.
- Add wood preservative to the stairs.
- Use screws instead of nails to fasten the lumber, so that they will stay more secure over time and will not wiggle and let moisture in.
- Protect the flat and vertical cuts on the stairs with either joist protection tape or coats of paint.
Oh dear: the side of your house is squishy. If you have damaged siding, you can also experience infestations of insects such as carpenter ants. How can you prevent this from happening?
- Add gutter guards to prevent water from running down the fascia boards and moving onto the siding.
- Make sure that your landscaping angles away from the house, so that water doesn’t move toward your foundation and siding.
- Replace any rotten siding that you find to prevent rot from spreading.
- Make sure that your home is well-painted so that it’s harder for moisture and fungi to enter the wood.
Preventing Rotten Landscaping Elements
When the rain is pouring down, how can you make sure that your exterior landscaping is standing strong? In order to keep your garden beds rot-free, you can:
- Use naturally-rot resistant woods like cedar. Avoid chemically-treated wood if you’re growing food in your garden; otherwise, you can use treated wood.
- Watch where water naturally pools in your garden. Make sure that you orient your landscaping so that water moves through your garden beds instead of pooling at the corners of your landscaping structures.
- Avoid clogged gutters. Clean them regularly, or get a gutter guard to prevent water from pouring down onto landscaping elements such as garden planters that sit next to your home.
At Harry Helmet, we want to make sure that you have a healthy home. From repairing roofs to adding gutter covers, we’re specialists in exterior home improvement. Would you like to learn more about the ways that we can help you create a healthier home? Talk to us to learn more about our roofing and gutter products, and schedule a free estimate today.