One of the most important things a homeowner must do is protect the wood within their structure. Two of the most common causes of wood damage in a home are wood rot and termites. Both of these can cause significant damage by going undetected for long periods of time. Signs of wood rot and termite damage are similar, often making it difficult to determine what type of problem you have. It is important to know which of these you are dealing with in order to properly resolve it. Here are some signs of termites and wood rot and how to tell the difference between the two.

Wood Rot

There are two types of wood rot: dry rot and wet rot. Dry rot is caused by fungi that attack wood, destroying it from the inside out. Dry rot can affect any untreated wood that has a 20% moisture content. This type of rot spreads quickly and is also known as brown rot. Wet rot is common in homes that have a preexisting moisture problem such as a leak around an air conditioner, a malfunctioning downspout, clogged gutters, leaky faucets, or shrubs that are too close to the house. With wet rot, the surface veneer of the wood is impacted so it is usually easier to spot. Wet rot can affect any unprotected wood. It tends to be more localized than dry rot and doesn’t spread as much.

Some common signs of dry wood rot include:

  • Wood that cracks and crumbles when touched
  • Fungi blooms on wood
  • Musty damp odor
  • Yellow tinge to wood color

Some common signs of wet wood rot include:

  • Wood that is spongy or stringy in texture
  • Wood that breaks off into cube-like patterns
  • Wood that looks darker than surrounding areas
  • Musty, damp odor

Termite Damage

Subterranean termites are one of the most common types of termite, although drywood termites can also cause significant damage. Termites eat cellulose that is present in wood, hollowing them out from the inside out. Termites access your home through cracks in the foundation and walls. Because termites eat from the inside out, they can often go long periods of time undetected.

Some common signs of termite damage include:

  • Tunnels and galleries on the inside of wood
  • Wavy looking wood
  • Small, pinpoint holes in wood
  • Peeling paint
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
  • Buckling floors
  • Loose tiles
  • Squeaky floorboards
  • Discolored drywall

Whether you have wood rot or termites, the most important thing is to recognize the issue and get it resolved as quickly as possible. If you have an issue with termites or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for a free analysis and treatment plan.


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