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Floor joists are one of the most important structural features of any home. They are the timber beam that runs perpendicular to the supporting beams and parallel to the wall. Joists provide a supportive framework for flooring. In short, they’re literally the ground beneath your feet.
To maintain their structure, floor joists must be able to carry the dead load of furniture, the vibration of people, impact loads, and the flooring load. It’s a lot of weight and pressure. That’s why floor joists use high-quality timber to provide durability, evenness, and strength.
Given their importance in the integrity of your home, water damage to floor joists is more than a homeowners’ nightmare – it’s potentially catastrophic. Moreover, because they’re hidden away in the bowels of the house, most homeowners do not spot water damage until the joists are rotten or failing.
Learning how to repair floor joists with water damage is essential to protecting your property. You’ll want to identify the early signs of rot, know the common causes of rotten floor joists, and know how to repair or replace the rotten joists.
Read on to find out more.
The best way to identify water damage in a floor joist is to conduct a visual inspection. There is no substitute for looking at the joint itself. However, when floors, ceilings, or crawlspaces cover a joist, that can be challenging. In such cases, you need to spot the telltale signs of damage.
Here are some of the most common signs to look for:
Floor joists are affected by two different kinds of rot:
Wet rot occurs due to fungus growth after the wood is saturated with water. Causes include flooding or a serious plumbing leak. You’ll spot a dark brown color on the joist, soft and crumbly wood, and possible black fungus growth.
Dry rot, on the other hand, occurs due to high moisture levels. In these conditions, the fungus takes longer to grow – causes include high levels of condensation, moisture build-up, or poor ventilation. Dry rot is a major concern, as it can spread to other wood, even crossing brick and mortar surfaces. Look for white fuzzy mold, brittle wood, and a high level of interior condensation on walls or windows.
There are four primary reasons for rotten floor joists:
To repair or replace, that is the question. As a rule of thumb, many professionals say if the rotten area is larger than six inches across, you should replace the joist or “sister” it from end-to-end. If multiple joists are affected, it almost always involves replacing the affected joists.
That’s not to say repairing joists is never appropriate. Consider performing a DIY repair of a joist if:
If the answer is no, speak to a professional like United Restoration – we’re more than happy to evaluate and repair any joists damaged due to water.
Here’s how to replace a joist with water damage:
That’s how to repair a water-damaged floor joist. We advise always contacting a professional for such serious repairs. Contact United Restoration today, and we’ll evaluate the repairs you need.