How is that wood siding working out?

Damaged wood sidingWood siding is extremely common in the San Jose area and Silicon Valley as a whole, both on condominiums & townhouses and also on houses.  (We do not see a lot of vinyl siding here, as we might in other parts of the country.) Water is the #1 enemy of houses – even more than termites!  It is necessary to control water intruding into the wood, because if it gets in, fungus and rot can get a start on your home.

How do you prevent  water damage, fungus, and dry rot on wood siding?

Exterior wood needs to be painted about every five years or it can crack, peel, and otherwise allow moisture intrusion. If the wood is kept sealed, it can do very well against water. Another big cause of expensive wood repairs outdoors is earth to wood contact.  If you have ever built a fence, or had one made for you, you’ve probably seen that the best practice is to put the wooden posts into concrete rather than directly into the dirt.  The reason is simple: soil gets damp and the wood will wick up the moisture, whether it’s fence boards, posts, part of a wooden deck, or the siding on your home.  If the siding or other wood comes near the soil, the recommendation is to separate them one way or the other. In the photo I’ve included with this article, the siding of this townhome complex was allowed to touch the earth.  You can see the results: expensive repairs needed! The old saying goes that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of curse”.  It’s especially true with caring for wood siding and other times of wood on the outside of your home or in your yard.   If you can remember to do a walk-around every few months, at least twice a year, you are more likely to find the beginnings of issues before they become thousands of dollars.  Keep a schedule for painting and make sure you do it before it looks like it’s needed.  If you wait until there’s chipping and cracking, you may already have trouble!  Watch for earth to wood contact, and rake away the soil or take other measures to protect your siding. This is true for owners of townhomes too.  It seems like decades ago, home owner associations were often responsible for siding, but in the last few years I’ve been finding more and more HOAs make that the owner’s responsibility, even if the HOA is in charge of the painting schedule.    Make sure that you have a look at your siding regularly so that you can stop fungus and dry rot in their tracks and prevent a small headache from becoming extremely costly. Finally, it’s a good idea to have a pest inspection (termite inspection) every 3 to 5 years to nip any issues in the bud. Related reading: What Is Cellulose Debris (in a pest or termite report)?

 

 

 

Avoid earth to wood contact

Earth to Wood Contact wood losesWhether you’re looking to buy your next home or a home owner now, it’s imperative to understand how bad moisture is for wood.  So many people assume that the worst thing that can happen to a house is termites, but most of the time, it’s water – and whatever brings water to the house, fence, deck, wooden retaining wall, mailbox post, etc.

This conduit for water includes soil   Earth touching wood will conduct water up to the wood, like a wick.

Often the earth to wood contact problems come in improperly installed or maintained fences, in which the posts should be put into a concrete base.  Have a look at the image on the right – the moisture from the ground has come up to the fence, damaging the wood and likely rotting it too.

Most properties in Silicon Valley have an abundance of wood elements.  It’s smart to check them periodically to make sure that they aren’t directly touching soil.  By keeping them apart, you’ll help to extend the life of that component.

 

 

 

Watch for Dampwood Termites in Silicon Valley!

Miguel Torres and dampwood termite at Almaden Winery neighborhood of San JoseI’ve been selling real estate since 1993, full time, in Silicon Valley. Until recently I had never seen dampwood termites in this area, but a few months ago I caught sight of  a dead one at the Almaden Winery neighborhood (on the Cambrian and Almaden border) when our pest inspector, Miguel Torres from Thrasher Termite, noticed it and gave me an education on them.  Luckily there were no live dampwood termites to be found! I thought it was a weird fluke.

Fast forward a few months, and  again this week I saw first the much smaller,  immature dampwood termites (so I didn’t recognize them, but suspected that they were termites of some kind as they were coming out of rotting wood) and a few days later saw the large and now mature dampwood termites swarming in the same location in Belgatos Park, Los Gatos, close to where my family and I live. Initially I thought they were strange moths as there was a lot of flapping motion, but on closer look I could see that they were indeed termites and they were big!!! (more…)

“The house was ‘termited’ four years ago. Do we need to do it again?” – Question of the Day!

This afternoon I was driving along Blossom Hill Road in Los Gatos, with my destination being the salad bar at Whole Foods, when my cell phone rang.  A woman who did not identify herself or her location said to me, after noting that she called the number from the blog/site, “a house was termited four years ago. Do we really need to do it again?”  She needed professional, unbiased real estate advice, and figured that since I had nothing to gain either way, I’d tell her the truth.

I asked her what she meant by “termiting”.  Was it an inspection, a fumigation, or some other treatment that was done 4 years ago?  She elaborated that the house was tented for (drywood) termites four years ago.  She didn’t want to waste her money “termiting” again (to use her words).

“Are you buying a house?” I asked her.  “Yes” she confirmed.  I continued, “then you probably should get a termite inspection from a licensed and reputable company because drywood termites can come right back after the treatment.  Not only that, but the inspector will look for other things, like subterranean termites, dry rot, fungus, boring beatles, and more.” (I did explain that you don’t just tent for drywoods – they may or may not be a problem. What you want is an inspection to see if there’s anything that does need treating. The inspector might find cellulose debris, for instance, and will note whether it’s infected or not.) (more…)