When you hire a home inspector, he’ll look at the wood structures of a home, such as floors, walls, doors and windows. Those areas are among the most likely to have problems. Wood rot and insect damage are two key problems your inspector will look for.
Where wood door frames touch the concrete or soil at the grade, your inspector will likely find insect and fungal damage. Moisture there invites problems. On the other hand, dry wood won’t decay. The moisture content won’t be more than 10-15% if a home’s wooden structures are adequately protected. However, if the levels are at 25-30%, you can count on rot from fungus or insect infestation.
As your home inspector examines wood structures, he knows to be on the lookout for wood stains, fungi, termite shelter tubes, holes, soft or discolored wood, and small piles of sawdust.
He may probe any suspect wood with a sharp instrument, and he’ll check its moisture content with a moisture meter to check for those problem levels of 20-25%. If wood is sound, it will separate in long, fibrous splinters. However, decayed wood will lift up in short, irregular pieces.
On the outside of the home, your inspector will look at several areas, including:
* Places where wood is in contact with the ground, such as wood pilings, porch and deck supports, porch lattices, wood steps, adjacent fences, and nearby wood piles.
* Foundation walls that might harbor termite shelter tubes, including tubes in the cracks on wall surfaces.
* Frames and sills around the basement or the lower level window and door frames, as well as the base of frames around garage doors.
* Wood framing next to slab-on-grade porches or patios.
* Wood that’s near or in contact with roofs, drains, window wells, or other areas that are exposed to getting wet periodically from rain or lawn sprinklers.
On the inside of the home, your inspector will check areas that include:
* Spaces around or within interior foundation walls and floors, crawl spaces, piers, columns, or pipes that might contain shelter tubes, including cavities or cracks.
* The sill plate that covers the foundation wall, and joists, beams, and other wood components that come in contact with it.
* Wood frame basement partitions.
* The baseboard trim in slab-on-grade buildings.
* The subflooring and joists below the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry areas.
* The roof sheathing and framing in the attic around chimneys, vents, and other openings.
Wood that’s damaged by fungus or insects might possibly be repaired at a reasonable cost. However, it might be necessary to replace or add support to affected areas. It depends on what’s causing the problem and how bad it is.
It’s possible the damage may not be severe enough to seriously affect the home’s stability. On the other hand, certain parts or components may be deteriorated quite badly. When there’s evidence of termite or other insect damage, consult an exterminator.
When it comes to a home’s wood structures, there’s a lot to consider. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need the services of a professional home inspector because it’s crucial to know the condition of those structures and decide what can be done to deal with any issues that come up.