how long does it take for wood to rot from water
Kristina Davis

You maybe have a patio or garden full of wood floor or furniture and wondering how long does it take for wood to rot from water?

Did you know that at least 90% of American homes are built using wood framing?

Old and modern homes alike can suffer the damages associated with wood. Mold, exposure, and water can each cause extreme issues for wood-framed homes.

Most U.S. homes are susceptible to wood rot. But, rotting homes or buildings can be hard to detect when it first begins. 

Wood generally takes about two to four years to expose severe wood damage. How long does it take for wood to rot from water?

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Water damage can take as little as six months or as long as three years to destroy wood framework in homes. However, damage caused by rotting wood can be combated and prevented.

On average, wood can be expected to begin rotting as early as six months or as long as three years.

How Long Does it Take Wood to Rot?

how long wood will rot

Rotting wood can occur under many conditions. Mold, exposure, and water are all common reasons home, and building owners undergo the unpleasant experience of replacing or repairing rotted wood.

The conditions that cause wood to rot prematurely are:

  • Sitting or still water
  • Moisture and humidity
  • Grounded structures
  • Dirt
  • Climate and exposure
  • Lack of paint
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Identifying Rotted Wood

identify rotten wood

Wood has a primary life expectancy of ten years, at the minimum, if the wood is adequately taken care of.

Other preventative measures such as pressure-treating wood can increase the lifecycle of timber by thirty years. Poorly kept wood becomes prone to rotting.

Rotten wood can be spotted by:

  • Brown, white, or yellow areas surrounding the wood
  • Fungus or fungi
  • Peeled paint
  • Delicate wood pieces
  • Holes in the wood
  • Foul-smelling odors stemming from the wood
  • Insects

Where Can You Expect to Find Wood rot?

when to find wood rot

Identifying rotting wood does not only rely on chance encounters and 20/20 vision. Home and building owners can check specific locations for signs of rotting wood.

These locations include:

  1. Window Sills and window frames
  2. Sinks
  3. Door frames and thresholds
  4. Basements
  5. Attics
  6. Exterior add-ons – Decks & Fences
  7. Siding and paneling
  8. Steps
  9. Roofing edges
Note: Rotting wood can be hard to detect. Calling an expert to inspect your home or building periodically can save you time and money in detecting and preventing rotting wood.

How Long Does it Take for Wood to Rot from Water?         

how long will wood take to rot

Water alone does not cause wood to rot. The issue arises when water and moisture are left to seep into the wood.

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Lumber is cut to withstand altering climates and weather conditions like rain and storms.

Warmer climates like southern states are more likely to experience rotting wood due to water than states with colder temperatures. The reason is that moisture, air, and humidity are thrown into the mix.

In conjunction with standing water and water-soaked wood, this mixture can create rot.

Temperatures and climates add to fast spread and excessive wood rot. So, how long does it take for wet wood to rot?

If not addressed, wood suffering from water damage can be completely destroyed in as little as one to three years.

Water damage to wood can occur through rain, plumbing leaks, sprinklers, and any holes or gaps in the wood itself.

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Uncleaned and unkempt lumber can also be susceptible to wood rot from water.

Areas that can be affected by wood rot include:

  • Siding
  • Posts
  • Patios
  • Fences
  • Framework
  • and more

How to Prevent Wood from Rotting from Water

prevent wood from rotting

If you are a home or building owner, you can anticipate wood rot damage due to water.

The severity level of rot may vary depending on other factors like location, temperature, and the age and deterioration of the wood itself.

Home and building owners can take preventative measures to halt or delay wood rot due to water.

Pressure Treating

One such measure is pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood is specialized wood.

It combines intense air pressure and an influx of unique chemicals to form a more substantial piece of lumber.

Pressure-treated wood has the ability to last longer than ordinary wood because the infused chemicals and pressure decrease the chances for damage such as infestations, rot, mold, and decay.

Note: Processed pressure-treated wood can last an average of forty years. That is three times longer than ordinary wood.

Other Preventive Measures

preventive measures

While pressure-treated wood may be the best preliminary choice for home and building owners, it may not always be appropriate.

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If you are unable to build or repair with pressure-treated wood, these tips and tricks to prevent wood rot may be for you:

  1. Fill cracks and holes in the wood
  2. Clean or pressure wash exposed wood and siding
  3. Remove water and debris from gutters, sprinklers, or any other water source linked to the wood or framework
  4. Replace or repair leaking pipes or plumbing
  5. Ensure all areas of exposed wood are painted, stained, or sealed
  6. Pressure wash siding and other
Note: Rotting wood is not repaired or replaced once. To keep your dwelling in top shape, continued maintenance and prevention methods will have to be put in place for the home of the building.

What Do You Do if You Have Rotten Wood Caused by Water?

It is no secret that not all damaged or rotted wood can be saved.

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If wood is soft, covered in gaps or holes, discolored, and foul-smelling, it is probably time to get the wood replaced.

what to do

However, if you happen to catch the rotten wood before it spreads too far, there are some steps you can take to recover the water-damaged wood.

Step #1: Dry the wood

Step #2: Fill or repair leaks and holes

Step #3: Add wood a wood preservative to the affected and unaffected areas of the wood

Types of wood preservatives:

  • Alkaline copper quaternary
  • Borates
  • Copper azole
  • Copper naphthenate
  • Polymeric betaine

Step #4: Check and monitor the affected area for observation and maintenance

If the rotten wood is too extensive or you would rather not risk repairing it on your own, you can call a construction or wood repair company.

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An inspection of the entire interior and exterior will take place. After, repairs will take place, small or large.

Note: Depending on the company, you can also look into a warranty so that the same situation does not happen again.

Don’t Let Rotting Wood Hold You Back

rotting wood

Rotting wood can take form in many shapes: mold, water, and air, to name a few. Although ordinary wood can last a minimum of ten years, it is not guaranteed.

Specific locations like southern states with heat and humidity create the perfect environment for developing rotting wood.

Lumber is designed to withstand temperatures and harsh weather conditions. However, irritants can enter the wood and cause problems.

Note: If left untreated, rotting wood caused by water damage can destroy a structure as early as six months. 

Rotting wood can affect siding, patios, fences, and general framework.

Remember, if your home or building experiences rotting wood, preventive measures can be taken.

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Pressure-treated wood, clean siding, gutters, painted and sealed exposed areas, and fill cracks and holes are always a plus.

Rotting Wood FAQ

questions about rotten wood

Here are some of the most common questions regarding water rotting wood.

Can rotten Wood Be Saved?

To save rotten wood you need to cut out the rotted parts of the piece of wood and replace them with some kind of filler or putty.

Final Thoughts

The answer to how long does it take for wood to rot from water is that wood does not last forever. Repairs or replacements will inevitably occur at some point.

Even with pressure-treated wood and preventive maintenance, rotting wood is more than likely to occur, especially in hotter climates.

The rotting wood repair can be a do-it-yourself project or a professional job. If you find yourself asking, how long does it take for wood to rot from water?

Now you know!