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How to Spot Rot

How to Spot Rot

The outside of your home is designed to weather the elements. While homeowners do a lot to protect their houses’ exteriors from damage caused by rain and water, several trouble spots are especially prone to rot. If you learn how to spot rot before it spreads too deep, you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

If you don’t act proactively, rot can ruin wooden frames, sideboards, ledges, and moldings and cause hundreds of dollars worth of water damage — not to mention the cost to repair the rotten wood!

One way to prep for rot is to do your best to prevent it. Rot originates in corners and cracks, so a quality caulk is essential to your home’s wellbeing. While paint is important, the most important material on your home is caulk. The highest quality caulks, like Sherwin-Williams SherMax or MAXFlex products, have more elasticity than their counterparts. You want caulk with high elasticity because it can expand and contract without cracking -- and if it doesn’t crack, then it won’t let water into those gaps to cause rot. We recommend examining your caulk for cracks twice a year: in the winter, when everything contracts, and in the summer, when everything expands.

But even with top-tier caulk, and especially with shoddy or superficial prior repairs that splice the wood, there is still a chance that you can get rot on your home’s exterior. If you catch it quickly, the repairs are no big deal. You can give your local Handyman Pro a call and we’ll come out and repair it for you while getting to the root of the cause in the first place.

In the meantime, you can be on the lookout for rot on your own house. Here are the 5 main places to watch for rot, according to our expert eyes:

1. The base corners of all your entry doors

A seam runs between the threshold and the doorjamb, forming a natural crack, which can lead to water seeping into these corners if your caulk has failed. If you’re not careful, by the time the rot appears dramatic, it can get into the subfloor of your house. This creates an expensive repair that could involve replacing your entire floor and doorway, all of which could be avoided if you’d found the rot sooner. These are the three most common places near your exterior doorways to check for rot:

  • Doorjambs
  • Brickmould base

Be sure to also check the base of your garage door where it meets the cement for rot — this is one of the easiest (and cheapest!) fixes if caught early.

2. The windows

Rot at your windows will normally run along the bases, where the wood is horizontal and it’s easier for water to get trapped. However, anywhere there is a joint, the caulk can fail. Here are the three most common places for rot on your windows:

  • Windowsill
  • The nose
    This is the piece that attaches to and juts out from the windowsill.
  • Other exterior trims, such as brickmould

3. The cornerboards

Cornerboards are the vertical cornerpieces of your exterior that connect two walls. You want to examine the base of your cornerboards closely since there is the potential for rot at any crease on your walls.

4. Where your siding touches your deck

This area is especially important if your deck is not protected. When your deck meets the siding, it forms a crack that water can gather in. If the wood on your deck is unprotected, it acts like a sponge and can cause your siding boards to soak with water where they join.

5. Where your siding connects with your roof

You don’t need caulk where your board meets your roof. The problem spots here occur when the boards are cut perfectly to fit the roof without leaving a gap. When the boards touch the roof, it creates a crease that is prone to rot. You see rot often at the base of chimneys and dormers.

Handyman Pro-Tip: It’s important to make sure you touch these hot spots for rot because even though they may just resemble rippled paint, you’ll know it’s rot when you apply pressure and the wood gives.

If you find rot on your exterior, give Handyman Pro a call at (855) 640-3727. We’ll repair your rot quickly and professionally. And if you need a hand checking your house for rot, we can examine your exterior.