As a homeowner, you usually know when your property needs attention. You can spot when that tree branch needs trimming or when the weeds need pulling. You can see when that light bulb requires replacement or when the windows could use a good wash.

But some damage happens slowly, too slowly for you to catch early. Small drips and leaks, for example, gradually soften and wear away at the timbers in your home. And when the moisture build-up meets mould spores and bacteria, you have the perfect environment for wood rot.

Once wood rot takes hold, it spreads quickly through your timber beams and wooden trim. If left unchecked, wood rot compromises your home’s structural integrity, costing you thousands of dollars in repairs.

So where should you look to catch wood rot before it damages the rest of your home?

1. Exterior Doors
Many entryways rely heavily on timbers. Even if your door uses galvanised steel, aluminium or glass, your door frame and surrounding trim likely have a great deal of wood. This wood faces a lot of moisture from rain, hail and humidity.

Check the frame, threshold, trim and door jamb for soft, spongy areas. Use a screwdriver or nail to poke at the timber. If the trim gives in, or if the timber crumbles, you may have wood rot.

Keep in mind that visitors and guests likely bring in dirt and mud whenever they enter, so much of the moisture will collect at the foot of your door. So pay extra attention to the lower half of the door when you check for rot.

2. Under the Sink
Showers and baths produce a lot of steam and humidity. Though your bathroom fan might disperse the hot air outside, much of the moisture will collect in the corners of your cabinets, near your shower walls and under your sink.

So look under and inside your cabinets and sink. If you see any sections that never seem to dry thoroughly, or if you spot bulges in the paint, wood rot may be to blame.

And while you inspect humid areas of your home, don’t forget to check under your kitchen sink, around your water heater, by your washing machine or close to your dishwasher. All of these appliances may see as much moisture as your bathroom.

3. Window Frames
Windows, like doors, see a lot of weathering. However, when rain strikes an older window, the water tends to drip down into the sill rather than away from the home. The water eventually pools in the sill, and several hours (and sometimes days) may pass before the water evaporates.

Inspect your window frames for any soft, damaged areas. A screwdriver or nail can help you test those hard-to-reach corners and edges of the frame. If the timber punctures easily, your home likely has wood rot.

4. Roof
Due to its height, your roof often stays out of sight and subsequently out of mind. While solid shingles act as waterproofing agents, missing and cracked shingles can’t do their job effectively. During poor weather, the rain may seep underneath the shingles and weaken the timbers.

If you think the roof may be weak, or if the pitch seems too steep to mount safely, grab a pair of binoculars and focus them on your rooftop. Look for shingle discoloration, raised or curled shingles and cracks near the chimney or vent. Even if you can’t spot wood rot directly, these tell-tale signs will let you know whether your roof needs expert repairs.

Did You Find Wood Rot?

Hopefully, you don’t find any soft spots in your timbers when you examine your home. However, if your inspection did reveal water damage, hire an expert to cut out the rot and restore the affected sections.