Roof Leaks: Wet Wood Beams

roof leaks

Because most of the structure inside the attic is wooden, including beams, joists, rafters, and other constituents, roof leaks into the attic usually mean wet wood. Wooden attic structure is often untreated—building codes in many locales do not require it—and may be vulnerable to rot if attic water damage occurs from sources like roof leaks, plumbing pipes, or even high levels of condensation.

A Wet Attic At Risk

Wood rot is a natural fungal process associated with prolonged moisture contact. However, even untreated wood may resist a limited amount of water exposure for a limited time without permanent damage. Therefore, the most important factor is detecting and repairing attic water damage from roof leaks,  ASAP—before the process of wood rot begins. Here are some signs that that attic wooden structure may be at risk from roof leaks and other water damage:

  • Roof leaks affecting attic beams and other wood initially cause discoloration, gradually darkening wood the water contacts. Streaks, stains, and other discoloration typically appear sometime before wood rot begins. Therefore, these visual signs are a warning to take immediate action to locate and repair roof leaks and/or other water sources inside the attic.
  • Mold growth on wood surfaces inside the attic frequently accompanies the roof leaks which also initiate wood rot. In addition, mold growth penetrates wooden materials, too, accelerating the process of deterioration. Mold contamination inside an attic should be another red flag that wooden structures may be affected by rotting due to water.  

What To Do About Wet Wood

  • First, the location of roof leaks into the attic must be pinpointed and repaired. Then, wooden components of the roof and attic must be examined for visual evidence of wood rot.  
  • Wood rot is a permanent condition. Once any individual wooden constituent has been affected by wood rot, it is no longer structurally sound and not repairable. Therefore, attic beams and other wood structures affected by rot must be replaced.
  • After rotted wood is removed, new replacement wood and existing wooden structures can be treated with a wood preservative that prevents wood rot fungus.

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