Crawl Space Drying >> How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space

Seasoned, properly used wood is a dependable building material. In properly designed houses that are well built and well maintained, decay causes little damage. Most damage can be avoided. Prevention is cheap; cure is sometimes costly. Cause of Damage. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Wood decay is caused by minute plants called fungi. 

These plants consist of microscopic threads that are visible to the naked eye only when many of them occur together (fig. 1). But it is easy to see the fruiting bodies of fungi, from which their spores  are distributed (fig. 2).  How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Some fungi merely discolor wood, but decay fungi destroy the fiber. 

Decayed wood is often dry in the final stages, but not while the decay is taking place, because fungi cannot work in dry wood. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space That is why there is no such thing as "dry rot,” and why decay is a minor problem in the driest parts of the country. A decay fungus and its effect on wood. 

Fungi consist mainly of tiny threads that grow within the wood and can be seen there only with a microscope. In very moist air they may develop on the surface in sufficient quantity to be visible. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space The upper part of this piece of wood is softened and weakened, and the lower edge is cracked and nearly disintegrated. 

Decay fungi make no definite galleries like those cut by termites. – Fruiting bodies of different types of woodrotting fungi. A. One of the bracket-form pore fungi. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space B. Upper and lower surfaces of a gill fungus. C. A resupinate, crust like member of the pore fungi. 

The microscopic spores that serve to spread these fungi to new locations are produced on the gills or pore surfaces on the under­ sides of the fruiting bodies. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Two species of fungi spread from moist soil or wood into dry wood by conducting water to wood through vinelike structures. 

Occasionally they cause great damage to buildings, but fortunately most fungi cannot conduct moisture in this way. Fungi and termites may sometimes work in the same wood. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Decay fungi soften the wood and, in the final stages, make it spongy or cause it to shrink or crack and crumble (fig. 1). 

None of the fungi produces the continuous, clear-cut tunnels or galleries characteristic of termite infestation. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Methods of controlling soil-nesting termites are given in Home and Garden Bulletin No. 64, Subterranean Termites: 

Their Prevention and Control in Buildings (Revised October 1983). Serious decay damage is most often due to one or more of the following errors in construction or maintenance: 1. Undrained soil and insufficient ventilation under basementless houses. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space 2. Wood such as grade stakes, concrete forms, or stumps left on or in soil under houses. 

Wood parts of the house in direct contact with the soil, especially at dirt-filled porches. 4. Wood parts embedded in masonry near the ground. 5. Use of unseasoned and infected lumber. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space 6. Sheathing paper that is not sufficiently permeable to moisture vapor. 7. Inadequate flashing at windows, doors, and roof edges.

Poor joinery around windows and doors and at corners, and inadequate paint maintenance. 9. Lack of rain gutters and roofs without overhang. 10. Unventilated attics. Roof leaks; leaks around shower-bathtub combinations, kitchen fixtures, and laundry rooms. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space 12. Failure to use preservatively treated or naturally durable wood where moisture cannot be controlled. 

To prevent decay, keep decay fungi from entering the lower part of the structure. Use dry wood as far as practicable, and build in a way that will keep wood dry most of the time. Spores or "seeds” of decay fungi are always present in the air; they can’t be kept away from wood. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space But fungi can grow in wood only when it contains more than 20 percent moisture. 

Air-dry wood is regularly below this danger point. Use of Dry lumber Use only seasoned and sound lumber. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Compared with green lumber, it has better nail-holding capacity, shrinks and warps less, and is safer from decay. During construction, store lumber off the ground and protect it from rain. 

If only green material can be obtained, it should be open-piled on the job and allowed to dry as much as possible before it is used. The piles should be supported off the ground, the layers separated from each other by narrow strips of I-inch dry lumber. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Space the boards in each layer to let air move around them on all sides. 

If the piles cannot be put under cover, slope them toward one end. Overlap the boards in the top layer and extend them out at the front and back to keep rain off the boards beneath. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Green lumber requires 60 days or more for thorough seasoning. But even a shorter period will do much to decrease the chance of decay. Particularly avoid infected lumber that is wet. 

It is especially dangerous where the lumber is so enclosed that it cannot dry. 
Wood infested heavily by stain fungi should also be avoided, since it often contains decay fungi as well. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Protection Against Rain Roofs with considerable overhang, both at eaves and gable ends, give more protection to the rest of the house than those with narrow overhang. 

In fact, a good roof overhang can do much to offset decay hazards in siding and around windows and doors. As a rule, an overhang of 12 inches is desirable for a I-story house. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space In regions with heavy snow, flash the lower courses of shingles to keep melting snow from working into the walls. 

Gutters and downspouts are particularly desirable for houses without overhanging eaves. Flash horizontal wood surfaces or projections, including windows and doors, with a noncorroding metal. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space In general, architectural frills or novel forms of construction should be studied carefully. 

To determine whether they will provide entrance points or pockets in which moisture will remain long enough to let decay get started. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space Lumber takes water most readily through exposed ends, as in joints. 

Naturally Decay-Resistant Wood The sapwood of all species of trees is susceptible to decay. Heartwood of most species, usually recognizable by its redder or darker color, is more durable. How To Remove Dampness From A Crawl Space In Douglas-fir, southern pine, and white oak the heartwood is classed as moderately resistant.

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