I’ve faced several structural issues, and wood rot is one of the most common, particularly in rainy areas. I noticed that window openings are often the first places where wood rot strikes. So, I started wondering, what is wood rot? What causes window rot? How can I check for it? And can it be repaired or even prevented? I’ve learned the answers to these questions, and I’m sharing them with you in this post.
My encounter with window rot
Window rot occurs when the wood around the window breaks down due to the presence of certain fungi (not the fun guy, like my uncle, but the natural kind). I discovered that there are three types of fungi that cause window rot, and they can be identified in different ways:
- Brown Rot, often called dry rot. This is named so because the wood often looks dry and brownish in color. The fungi target cellulose in the wood, which then shrinks and forms little cubes, called cubical fracture. Once it starts, it spreads rapidly.
- White Rot, or yellow rot. This fungus targets lignin, another compound in wood, and actually leaves the white cellulose behind, creating the white color that gives it its name.
This type of rot is caused by yet another fungi. It takes longer to rot wood than brown or white rot, but it can grow and thrive in environments that are either too cold or too hot for the other types of rot. In short, window rot consists of one of three types of fungi-caused decay that causes a breakdown in the structure of wood.
What I learned about the causes of window rot
While the underlying cause of window rot is one of the fungi mentioned above, I found out that it also occurs due to the presence of moisture. None of the fungi above will grow without it. So, the structural flaws resulting from window rot or wood rot elsewhere are actually caused by another structural flaw that allows moisture to enter and become trapped where it shouldn’t be.
For instance, I realized that the caulking around the window frame might leak, causing water to accumulate on either the inside or outside of the sill near or around the glass of the windowpane. The fungi feed on the moisture and cause the wood to break down. Although today’s windows are designed not to leak, I learned that it only takes a small leak for enough water to get in and start causing damage.
The more the wood breaks down, the more space there is for moisture to sit, and the more humidity the fungi have to help them grow. This is why brown rot spreads so quickly once it gets started. The rot itself creates better conditions for rot to develop.
Additionally, wood with a high moisture content is more appealing to termites and carpenter ants. Mold can also develop in the wood and the surrounding area, posing a health risk to me, my family, and my guests.
This is why it’s crucial to check for window rot regularly and prevent it whenever possible.
How I check for window rot
If I check for window rot once or twice a year, depending on the climate, that’s usually enough. One of the tell-tale signs of wood rot is the wood’s texture. If any wood around my windows feels soft or spongy, I know that there’s probably some window rot happening. Healthy wood will feel dry and strong.
I also check for discoloration. Wood that appears to have shrunk in any way and is brown in color probably has brown rot. Wood that looks white or has small, white streaks showing through the paint is likely experiencing wood rot.
One trick I use is carrying a nail with me. If I can press it into the wood without a hammer’s help, especially if the wood feels damp, I take a closer look or have an expert inspect the wood. Having an inspector come out can be a good investment because they’ll also help me identify other places where wood rot might be present.
Can window rot be repaired?
Wood that has started to rot, regardless of the rot’s progress, must be replaced. There’s no reliable way to stop the rot’s spread and restore the wood to its former structural integrity.
In the case of windows, this usually means a full window unit replacement, including the frame. But be aware: once the frame is removed, I might reveal other wood rot around the area, depending on how long the window has been rotting. Early detection is key, so the repair is as simple and efficient as possible.
Depending on my home, I may consider a more modern window structure and even different materials for the window frame itself. The best policy? I consult a window replacement specialist to determine the ideal solution for my home.
My approach to preventing wood rot
Like many other things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means I need to be proactive. Here are some things I do to prevent wood rot:
- Maintaining the finish on my windows in good condition
I make sure the finish on my windows is in good condition, especially on wood windows. Water can penetrate the finish on wood windows and work its way behind cladding, so I always ensure it’s in good condition to prevent water damage.
- Regularly checking windows, doors, and other entry points
I inspect windows, doors, and other entry points to my home regularly. Anywhere water can accumulate and get into wood should be inspected at least twice a year.
- Promptly repairing leaks
If I notice window fogging, window leaks, moisture on window ledges inside or outside, or water accumulating around window sashes, I replace or repair the caulk or seals in that area. If something cannot be repaired, I replace it as soon as possible.
- Having doubts checked out
Similar to my personal health, my home’s health depends on various factors. If I suspect something might be going on with my home, I have it professionally inspected, especially concerning leaks, moisture, and potential structural damage.
- Preventing and addressing wood rot
Wood rot and specifically window rot in my home can be prevented. However, if I already have wood rot, I get it repaired right away. Complete window unit replacements are the way to go, as I can never restore wood that has started to rot to its original strength.
The sooner I catch window rot, the better. Fixing things right away helps me prevent further damage elsewhere in my home, the development of mold and other hazards, and the invasion of pests.
Choose professional window repair with GoodWindowWorks.com
Our window repair experts at GoodWindowWorks.com take pride in delivering exceptional service and top-notch workmanship. We guarantee customer satisfaction by ensuring we complete your window repairs with the highest level of care and attention to detail, keeping your home safe from the elements.
Before attempting a DIY window repair project, consider the advantages of placing your trust in the professionals at GoodWindowWorks.com for your home’s window needs. Reach out to us today, and let our experienced team assist you in bringing your windows back to their original splendor and functionality while offering you peace of mind and a stress-free experience.