Got Mold or Rot in Your LP Siding?

Superior Exterior Systems is well known for mold & rot repair, siding repair and siding replacement on homes in Portland. Homeowners and realtors love our approach to one of the biggest problems in the resale market when they are trying to sell a home with Lp (Louisiana Pacific) siding. Many homes get held up from final closing because inspectors and bank appraisers see rot or moisture problems from the Lp that was never maintained. The rot can't be hidden and the banks are reluctant to loan when a structure has the infamous Lp siding, which stands for Louisiana Pacific. The reason why there is so much Lp siding is that the Lp research center was located right here in Tualatin Oregon.

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Mold and Rot RepairMold and Rot Repair

Superior Exterior Systems has spent countless hours in training and ongoing research regarding the Lp rot problem here in the Portland and Vancouver metro area. Our goal is to educate homeowners about the causes and risks related to mold, and options for remediation and siding repair. There have been over 12 different man-made composite sidings that have been involved with class action lawsuits just in the last 15 years due to moisture intrusion, delamination, and mold (fungal degradation). Dry-rot and structural damage to your exterior walls are key signs mold may be evident.

The most common types of siding that have these problems are EIFS-DRYVIT (also called synthetic stucco), Louisiana Pacific, Osb, Weyerhaeuser, OmniBoard, Cladwood, Georgia Pacific, Masonite, Abtco,and Stimson lumber-most of these sidings were manufactured between 1982 and 2001.

Not every home has mold, and not every composite siding is failing. The alarming rate and related problems in the building industry today from new construction to residential it has become a real concern for buyers, sellers, realtors, and the overall health risks involved. Although rare unless you have allergies, "Sick home syndrome" can affect your health. (corny as it sounds, is literally what it is called) But again, you have to be prone to allergies or have mold near your bed where you sleep. Aluminum windows tend to sweat and can further mold growth. The signs are typically resperatory issues, and never fully recovering from an everyday common cold. The name of the mold that is frequently found from water damage on the exterior is known as Stachybotrys. This mold will begin growing from a continually wet environment such as a water leak in a wall, water vapor condensation trapped in walls, moisture intrusion to the framing or sub-wall from the exterior. The color can range from almost colourless to white, sometimes brownish and when left untreated for a long time turns black. There are many species of Stachybotrys. We work with numerous inspection companies, and along with our approach to mold our goal is to give homeowners peace of mind, and a healthy home to live in.

Superior Exterior Systems has extensive knowledge and training in dealing with wood boring insects such as Carpenter Ants or Termites found here in the Pacific Northwest. We can help you with this issue during the siding process. We've collected some information (below) regarding these small pests that do incredibly large damage to a home.

Wood Destroying Fungi

Wood destroying fungi, commonly misnomered "dryrot" (since it takes moisture to cause the fungi to grow), is the only wood destroying pest in our part of the world that is plant life and not animal. Yet, wood destroying fungi is the most structurally destructive pest of all organisms that we are confronted with. This is common in the surrounding Portland area because of the excessive rain we get.

Four major categories of wood destroying fungi affect structures in the Pacific Northwest:

Green rot: Generally the most common. Damage appears darker than the surrounding wood, with cracks across the grain, appearing cubical in shape. Damage often progresses from the interior of the wood member out toward the surface

Soft rot: Similar in nature to brown rot except that damage is not as accelerated, damage progresses from the surface inward

White rot: Leaves a bleached appearance, requires a higher moisture content than brown rot in the wood to survive, damage often progresses from the surface inward

Poria incrassata: Water-conducting fungi, needs a source of moisture (wet ground contact, plumbing or roof leak, etc.) to become established, damage can be greater in sound wood some distance from the moisture source. This pathogen spreads very rapidly and damage can occur in a matter of weeks or months from the initial establishment of the fungi.

Corrective measures: Control of any wood destroying fungi requires addressing the moisture problem contributing to its growth. Such corrective measures may include one of more of the following:

Substructure: Proper and adequate ventilation of the crawl space, installation of a six mil black polyethylene vapor barrier atop the entire subarea grade, installation of a system to remove excessive moisture (standing water) from the crawl space, repairing plumbing leaks.

Interior: Repairing plumbing leaks and roof leaks, ensuring adequate ventilation in the attic, kitchen, bathroom, and other moisture generating areas of the structure.

Exterior: Sealing uninfected wood thoroughly with a high-quality paint or waterproofing material, caulking/sealing to prevent moisture intrusion into or behind siding material, ensuring that roof drainage systems are working properly.

In all cases, wood that is damaged from wood destroying fungi must be removed to prevent the spread of damage. Reducing the ambient humidity or moisture content of rot damaged wood will not restore its structural integrity or original load-bearing strength. Scabbing new wood onto rot damaged wood will simply allow the existing fungi and damage to spread into the new wood. In cases where limited infection from fungi in its early stages has occurred (where damage has not yet taken place), wood can be professionally treated with a borate fungicide to kill the fungi before damage takes place.

The above preventative measures can also be applied to non-wood destroying molds and mildews that also frequent structures in the Northwest.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are the most visible, and perhaps the most intimidating of the structural pests encountered in the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who has witnessed a spring swarm of Camponotus modoc reproductives emerging from a window sill in their living room or flying throughout the interior of their home can likely attest to imagining visions of their house about to collapse from the shear number of these insects.

Carpenter ants can indeed do serious damage to structural members. Their primary interest in locating in a structure, however, is to use it as a nesting site. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, as termites or other wood destroying insects do. Instead they bore or mine wood out to create galleries to nest in and promulgate the colony. In fact, oftentimes a structural carpenter ant infestation may exist in or adjacent to the insulation of a structure rather than wood. They do not always seem to care what kind of material they nest in as long as it gives them the protection they need to survive and a relatively close proximity to a food and moisture source. The danger in their presence, no matter where in the structure they presently nest, is the risk of these ants moving into the adjacent wood where they can proceed to cause extensive damage as they expand their nest into wood members.

Nearly a dozen different species of carpenter ants reside in the Pacific Northwest. They range in size from the small Camponotus essigi, (sometimes confused with other kinds of ants because of their small size) to the large Camponotus modoc and Camponotus vicinus; the reproductives sometimes found in excess of an inch in length. They can infest a structure by a singular fertile reproductive establishing a colony, which can take three to six years for the colony to mature. They can also infest a structure by an entire colony, whether a parent colony or a "satellite" colony moving from one location to another (much as a swarm of bees might move from one place to another). They can be imported onto a property by delivery of landscape bark material from an infested site elsewhere or from firewood delivered from another area.

Corrective measures: Sanitary measures on site can play a large role in reducing the risk of carpenter ant infestation. Elimination of moisture problems in and around the structure is important. Not allowing vegetation to come in contact with the structure (either along the ground, siding, or roof) is vital. Inspecting firewood or landscape bark before delivery on the property, and proper siting of such material, cannot be taken from granted. In our experience, carpenter ants tend to give preference to such food sources as sugars produced from evergreen trees and shrubs, berry vines and bushes, ivy and other climbing and crawling ground covers. While they will also seek other food sources including other insects, most infested structures tend to have the aforementioned food sources in close proximity; thus attention should be given where possible to modifying such an environment to reduce the risk of infestation.

Dampwood Termites

The Pacific dampwood termite (Zootermopsis angusticollis) is the largest of all native termites in North America. Workers and soldiers can be up to 1/2 inch in size, the reddish-brown reproductives can be up to 1 1/4 inches in length. The reproductives typically swarm in the late summer-early fall months.

Unlike subterranean termites, dampwood termites must have a wet environment to live. Generally they are found nesting above ground in damp or decaying wood. In structures they can infest wood in proximity to roof and plumbing leaks or wood in contact with damp earth. They can also invade sound, dry wood as long as damp wood is adjacent to the infested area (generally within 10-12 feet). Without a high moisture content in their nesting area these species of termites cannot survive. Dampwood termites leave behind a six-sided oval shaped fecal pellet in their galleries (subterranean termites do not).

We have assembled some examples of what insects, rot and mold can do to a structure below. If this looks like something you may have, then please contact us.

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