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Found severe rot -- help with next steps?

kelchm's picture

Found severe rot -- help with next steps? (post #216275)

 Hi All,

Found one of my ducks literally pecking away at the cedar siding near the main entryway to my house today. This prompted me to dig a little deeper and I subsequently found some pretty severe rot not only to the siding and sheathing, but also the underlying framing. I have a general idea of what needs to be done, but I wanted to reach out for some guidance and thoughts before proceeding. I plan to tackle some of the work myself, but will likely get a contractor to help me with replacing the sill plates and rim joist.

First, a few notes on the house itself. It’s a bit of an unusual house, particularly for Pennsylvania. It was built in 1977, and the majority of the house has no sheathing but instead 1” thick EPS foam overtop of the framing, followed by furring strips and finally a 1x6 beveled cedar shiplap siding. Most of the siding is still original and in decent shape considering it’s 40+ year age.

While pulling the siding from the entryway wall, I was very surprised to find that there was no air gap behind it. The cedar siding was directly against the block foundation and what was left of the sill plate, rim joist and sheathing (no wrap, either). So far I’ve only dug into one wall, but the sheathing, sill plate, rim joist, part of the subfloor and even part of studs are entirely rotted away. It seems like the damage that would have been visible on the interior was hidden by the baseboard convectors. Based on the condition of the siding alone, the opposite side of the entryway doesn’t seem to be as bad.

At this point it seems pretty obvious that having a vertical shiplap cedar siding directly on sheathing is a recipe for rot. Seems like after the structural repairs are done, I will need to pull all the siding from this part of the house, inspect for more rot, add some house wrap and reinstall new furring and siding.

Some general thoughts/questions:

  • Why would the construction of the entryway be so sub standard compared to the rest of the house?It doesn’t seem like an addition.
  • Any advice on vetting/evaluating contractors for the sill plate and rim joist replacement work?
  • Should I maybe be thinking about replacing all the siding on the house at this point? While much of it is still relatively solid, it is 40 years old and it will take me weeks to strip, stand in preparation for staining. This would also give me a chance to find other problem areas and fix those problems before they become more serious.

Link to Photos


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Looks like the sort of (post #216275, reply #1 of 2)

Looks like the sort of "modern" construction that was popular in the 70s.  Likely done based on some magazine articles.  May have been at least partially owner-built.

Note that "wrap", at this time, would have been tarpaper -- Tyvek wasn't really invented yet, and the few other "building paper" options were inferior to tarpaper.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Your problem is actually very (post #216275, reply #2 of 2)

Your problem is actually very common. I think I see the cause in your last picture that shows the window and roof above. The roof does not have a kick-out flashing that would direct water away from the house and into the gutter. When it rains water run off the roof, past the gutter and down the side of your house next to the window trim. I expect that it you keep going up you'll find more rot on the top and side of the window. 

The first thing to do is have a roofer install a kick-out flashing to redirect water away fro the wall of the house.

The repairs are fairly minor at this point but need to be fixed. Any good carpenter should be able to fix the damage so far in a day. Assuming there is more rot above it could be a 2 or 3 day job. At that point you can have the window properly flashed withaproduct like Vycor or a liquid flashing like Tyvek liquid flashing. Your inside corner is always going to be a tough spot so attention to detail will be needed to keep it dry. I wouldn't worry too much about the cedar directly on the block as long as their is a good vapor barrier  or a product like Cedar Breather behind it.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.