Thursday, October 12, 2006

What’s The Deal With Section 5b?

Yesterday I alluded to some problems with Section 5b. This is the last little area of the North side of the house that has not been painted, and is not under the porch. This is the next project. If there were no issues with it I could probably strip it, putty the holes, and prime it in one day, and then paint the next. It needs a little more work than that, though. There is (insert dramatic pause with evil music here) Rot!


I feel extremely fortunate because up until this point the only rot I’ve encountered on the house has been on the porches, and porches always rot, so that doesn’t really count. I’ve known about this problem for a few years because I discovered it when I removed the asbestos siding. Here’s a picture of Section 5b. It’s the small wall with the little window just to the right of the freshly painted green wall of Section 5.

There were two problems here. First, where the porch roof meets the house, just above this wall, there was no flashing. This did not cause the problems with the wall, but it was a problem. The flare out of the second story helped to divert some of the water, but not all of it. The second problem was the location of the downspout for the porch gutters. They located it several feet from the end and that section to the left drooped away from the downspout.

Normally that might not be a problem except there is a major downspout for the second story roof that drains down in to that part of the gutter. The gutter would over-flow and spill back behind the asbestos siding. Water also got back behind the redwood siding and in to the wall. Not a good thing.

When I removed the asbestos siding a few years ago it was obvious there where problems. I flashed the porch, changed the way the second story downspout drains, and I raised the left side of the porch gutter so it sloped towards the downspout (See the little wooden triangles under the gutter). This solved all the problems but some damage had already been done.

When I removed the asbestos siding some of those short little runs of horizontal siding had become completely disconnected from the house due to rotted nails and were drooping. The only thing holding them on was the corner trim, which also showed some signs of rot as the bottom, but nothing too bad.

I removed the corner trim, and all the siding, to find that that little section of wall that creates the Section 5 bump-out was filled with debris about 2 feet up the wall. Water had been pouring through that wall for a while and was leaving behind little things as it did. I’m not sure how long it took to get the wall that full. Because the interior walls of the house are solid wood behind the plaster, and there was the asbestos siding on the outside, no one noticed.

I cleaned out all the debris and discovered very little damage in the wall. Some of the studs showed some rot, but the sill was in great shape, and so were the back sides of the interior wall boards. Thank God the house is built entirely out of old-growth redwood or this could have been much worse.

I cut away any rot on the studs but didn’t bother sistering any new wood in. Because this bump-out is so shallow there is a lot of wood in there to create the outside and inside corner of the bump-out. I think this also helped to prevent further damage to surrounding areas. Normally a stud bay (the area in-between 2 studs) would be 16-inches minimum. There are 4 or 5 stud bays right in this area but they are all less than 8-inches wide. It’s like a ship with small ballast tanks. When one stud rotted out to the point that water and debris could get in to the next stud bay, the next stud bay was only 6-inches wide.

The little pieces of siding were in bad shape as well. It’s funny that from the front side they look fine, but when I took them off some of them were little more than a shell of a piece of wood. The rot started from the back side and was working it’s way out. Some were in worse shape than others. The bottom few rows where all the debris was were in the worst shape. None of them were bad enough that I couldn't nail them back up at the time.

I’ve decided to replace them now, though. My fear is that the soft wood on the back side will collect moister and the wood won't be able to hold paint. Any that are marginal I’ll spray with wood hardener. I also want to fix the small bit of rot at the bottom of the corner trim where the water exited the wall. Somehow, the water table suffered no damage at all.

So that’s the next project. I still have plenty of the salvage siding from the addition I removed. Finding new wood for the corner trim will be a little more of a challenge. The wood is 7/8th inch thick, and a full 6-inches wide, and because of the bull-nose corners I have to replace it with the same. I may end up shimming new wood if I don’t have any salvage left.


Anonymous said...

'scuse the personal remark, but you sound ecstatic to be able to do some carpentry again. lay on, macduff!

Greg said...

At this point, anything that isn't paint would be nice.