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Wet crawl space

How to Address Wood Damage in Your Crawl Space

Wood damage in your crawl space is not something you should ignore. If you don’t address this problem on time, it can easily escalate and compromise your home’s stability.

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Ensuring your home’s health is impossible without a healthy foundation. Unfortunately, there are so many things that can damage your crawl space. Plumbing leaks and groundwater flooding can slowly destroy your foundation and the worst thing is that you won’t even notice it until it is too late.  

While homeowners with basements go down there at least once a week (more if they have a finished one), homeowners with crawl spaces rarely check up on them. This is why standing water can have more than enough time to cause serious crawl space damage.  

In addition, if your yard is sloped toward your home, rainwater is likely always pooling around your foundation, significantly increasing moisture levels in your crawl space. A pest infestation can also affect your foundation. Termites eat wood and if they manage to get inside your crawl space, they can wreak havoc. 

In this post, we will take a look at the different ways wood damage can manifest in a crawl space, how to repair wood damage, and which waterproofing solutions will help keep your St. Louis, MO home safe.

Types of Wood Damage 

There are multiple ways that wood can withstand damage that affects the structural integrity of your home. Let’s take a look at the most common types of damage.  

Soft Rot 

Humid environments are not conducive for storing wood. Often, the wood will become darker, shrink, and become soggy and spongy. This is what’s known as soft rot and is caused by fungi that feed on moist wood. When the fungi digest the wood, it breaks down the cellulose and leads to decomposition. These fungi can cause minor problems that can be easily fixed by installing a sister beam. However, they can also cause more serious problems that require the installation of support jacks. 

Mold 

Most homeowners have dealt with mold growth at least once in their lives. Surface mold fungi are often white and fuzzy, and if there is moisture in your crawl space, this mold can quickly cover a large area. Since this type of mold consumes only the sugars and starches present in the wood, it does not affect its strength in any way.  

Luckily, it is easy to remove this mold and clean the wood surfaces. All you need is a cleaning agent and protective gear to keep you from inhaling mold spores. Of course, this is only a short-term solution. To get rid of the mold for good, you will need to keep humidity levels in your crawl space under control. 

Dry Rot 

If you are dealing with dry rot, you will notice pieces of your wooden elements shrinking and crumbling away from the beam. This is why this type of mold can cause serious damage and even compromise the structural stability of your home. Ironically, dry rot thrives in moist places, so the best way to prevent it is to keep your crawl space as dry as possible. 

Termite-Damaged Wood 

Wood that has been invaded by termites will be hollowed out along the grain of the wood. It will be full of small tunnels that are packed with mud. If you have a beam you suspect was damaged by termites, knock on it. If it sounds hollow, you may have a termite infestation. Since about one in 30 homes has a termite infestation every year, investing in an annual termite inspection is recommended. 

Wood Damaged by Carpenter Ants 

So, how can you figure out if your wooden beams have been attacked by carpenter ants and not termites? Well, unlike termites, carpenter ants leave extremely clean tunnels in the wood. However, they are not wood-eating insects, so they won’t cause severe damage. Carpenter ants live in moist areas, especially those where there is a lot of damaged wood. 

Repairing Wood Damage 

When you notice that there is damaged wood in your crawl space, call a professional who will determine the level of damage and see where repairs are necessary and where they can be avoided. Usually, when structural wood is in question, the whole beam or joist needs to be replaced with a new one or reinforced with a sister beam. 

Delaying repairs to your crawl space could result in worsening damage to your home’s wooden joists and structural integrity. Wood damage can cause your foundation to sag inward, which will lead to uneven floors. In time, the floors will become bouncy and a musty odor will spread through the house. A damaged crawl space will also affect the walls and framing and can cause cracks in drywall and skewed door frames. 

A weakened crawl space can be repaired in several ways: 

  • Bridging – Our foundation team can install bridging, which is the easiest way to support your floor. However, this solution won’t return your floor to its original stiffness.  
  • New Plywood – Layering new plywood is also a potential solution and while it will support your floor and make it stiff once again, your floorboards will squeak.  
  • Support Beam – Inspectors may also suggest installing a new support beam to provide support to your sagging floors. This solution, just like bridging, won’t return your floor to its original stiffness.  
  • IntelliJack™ Support System – To make your floors stiff and level once again, you can opt for support jacks. The IntelliJack™ is made of galvanized steel and designed to properly and permanently reinforce your floors. Unlike other standard jacks, this system is much more reliable and comes with a 25-year warranty. 

Preventing Future Damage 

To avoid wood damage in the future, you need to keep your crawl space dry and clean. Even if you have a sump pump, your crawl space can still be damp.  

Experts can help you decide what waterproofing solutions are right for your home and crawl space. Call our experts at Foundation Recovery Systems and schedule a free consultation today. 

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