Q&A: When Replacing Front Door, Rot Was Found


This artilce was previously published in Ask the Experts series in the R&A Magazine®.

Question

We recently had our front door replaced and were very surprised when the contractor discovered a significant amount of rot in the house frame underneath the door. We had no idea! And the repairs added about $500 to the cost of our door replacement. Now I’m worried that I might have more unseen damage throughout my house. What can I do to find out?

Answer

As a replacement contractor, we find problems like this all the time. We’ll replace a roof, some windows, or a door, for example, and discover rot, and often with it—mold. The fact is that a visible leak is much better than a hidden one because it is noticed and addressed. Hidden leaks can sometimes occur over a period of years before they are discovered and then there is often a large repair bill, not to mention the bad air you may have been breathing due to mold growth. Hidden leaks/moisture problems can happen all over your house and can come through areas such as the roof, exterior cladding (siding, stucco, brick, etc.) and windows and doors. Other problem areas can include bad gutters, foundation and landscaping issues, and lack of proper attic ventilation that leads to condensation. Most typically the hidden leaks that we find are the result of poor craftsmanship. For example, installing a single nail at the wrong place on a roofing shingle may not seem like a big deal, but in a few years, after the nail rusts, a leak can develop that isn’t discovered until part of the roof deck is rotted and a section of attic insulation is ruined. Beyond shoddy installation practices, inferior building components, lack of maintenance, and Mother Nature simply doing her thing over time can all lead to hidden leaks.

As a homeowner, there are a few things you can do. Start inside by checking out your basement and your attic. Check for any signs of moisture like damp spots, water stains or matted insulation. Look for cracks in your foundation. Then go outside and look at the landscape around your house to see if it is sloped away from your foundation or if it is actually funneling water toward your house. Examine the gutters and take note if any of them are pulling away from the house or if they are clogged or have standing water in them. Take a look at your siding, windows, and doors. If you see areas that appear cracked or rotted there is a good chance that some water may getting in. If you discover some clear problem areas or suspect areas then call a reputable contractor and have them take a look. They will be able to make recommendations for repairs or further investigation. Finally, if you’re not comfortable checking things out on your own hire a reputable contractor or home inspector to do an inspection for you. Most leaks, if discovered early, are easily remedied. This could save you hundreds (as you have learned) and even thousands of dollars down the road.

If you’d like to learn more you can check out our website, https://www.ebyexteriors.com. We also are offering our “Exterior Envelope Inspection” for only $99. Feel free also to call us at 733.9142 or come visit us at our Akron showroom. We’d also be happy to visit you at your home or place of business. And, as always, we offer free, no obligation quotes.

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