1. Wood rot on doors: Wood rot is the MOST common repair request Team Handy receives AND it is highly preventable. Water from the environment begins to seep into the wood between worn out caulking and paint causing destruction. Over time of soaking up water, the wood rots from the inside out. When you can see visible signs of wood rot, it is TOO LATE, the wood will be rotted completely through. Since this is part of the frame of the door, you can’t always repair it or the repair is only going to be temporary. This PREVENTABLE repair becomes costly very quickly. The average 36” pre-hung door including labor and materials to install and paint runs about $650 to replace. If you have a double door, french door, or a door with sidelights, this cost skyrockets to $1,500 - $5,000 depending on the door.
So what is the simple fix? Proper caulking and maintenance painting. All you have to do is make sure your door, jamb, and trim is caulked and painted every couple years. Doing this simple task will make your door last for 20+ years.
If you find yourself having to replace the door, make sure you opt for composite or some type of material on the jamb that helps prevent rot. Most door manufacturers now offer this type of material since it’s a common problem.
2. Toilets: Toilets are a must for every home and can be a source of many problems. The MOST common problem with toilets is when the wax ring fails. It may not have been installed correctly or it has failed over time. Once this happens, water WILL start to leak around the toilet. Leaking water gets absorbed by the underlying wood subfloor, causing wood rot. If you have tile or solid surface flooring, you can have a leak go unnoticed for years. Especially if the toilet is on the first floor and you have a crawl space underneath. This most often becomes apparent when a homeowner decides to update their flooring and the old flooring is removed. Leaking water plus time equals disaster and money. Replacing the entire room’s subfloor could involve even removing bathtubs and vanities. This can cost thousands of dollars in repairs.
How do you know if your toilet is leaking? There is no sure way to tell, but here are some clues: 1) If you have vinyl flooring, you will see staining around the toilet, 2)If you have tile, the grout lines will be a little darker than the rest right around the toilet, or 3) If you have some kind of wood, you will start to see warping of the wood. But one of the easiest ways is to identify a leaking toilet is to get in the crawl space and look underneath. If the toilet is on the 2nd floor, you’ll start to see stains on the ceiling below the toilet. Another common sign that the wax ring isn’t working properly is if your toilet rocks back and forth when you sit on it. Over time and misuse, the two bolts that hold the toilet down can become loosened allowing a gap in the wax ring. These things can happen to anyone. My own daughters would sit on the toilet and text or tweet for long periods of time and they would lay back on the bowl or lean against the wall. This puts pressure on the two bolts that are holding the toilet down and can cause them to start to wiggle loose and allowing a gap in the wax ring. The toilet is for two things, I think you know what those are.
3. Gutters: Gutters do all of the hard work to move water away from our house. But if the gutters aren’t working properly, they can cause all kinds of problems. The most common problem we see is when the gutter hangers fail and pull away from the house exposing the wood fascia trim. This can happen when the gutter becomes too heavy filled with debris. When the wood fascia trim is exposed to the environment, rot can set in. If the fascia is not repaired, over time the rot causes the gutter to detach from the home. Without the gutter diverting water properly, the foundation and/or basement could be at risk for water damage. This can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs.
How do you prevent this? Cleaning your gutters at LEAST once a year. If you have lots of trees around your house, your gutters need to be cleaned 2-3 times a year. If your gutters aren’t cleaned, they will accumulate debris which will clog the gutter. If the gutter is clogged then water can spill over the back of the gutter and rot out the fascia. In the winter time, when it snows, the water will freeze in the gutter which adds about 500 lbs of additional weight pulling down the fascia. Winter time is when most of the damage to gutters occur and if you gutter falls off the house, even more damage can happen. If remembering to get your gutters cleaned isn’t something you want to worry with,look at getting a good gutter guard installed. We recommend and sell the Raindrop Gutter Guard system. If you need help with cleaning out your gutters and setting up a maintenance plan, we can help with that!
4. Cabinets under sinks: Kitchen and bathroom sinks tend to develop leaks after years of proper functioning. Because this area usually has cleaners or other items that are only used occasionally, the area behind the cleaners is never checked. Water from the leak will rot out the bottom of the cabinet and then start to migrate around the area, similar to the toilet leak. It’s important to check this area once or twice a year just to make sure nothing is leaking. If you see white sediment around the pipes, that usually means you have had or have a leak. One preventive measure is to put down a material over the bottom of the cabinet. The protective material can act as a barrier which causes the water to pool on top of it. Over time if the leak is not address even a protective barrier won’t prevent the damage as seen in the picture to the left. This bathroom repair will cost about $800 because the cabinet is too far gone to repair it.
5. Caulking Windows: Your windows are not immune to wood rot. Just like the issue discussed above about your doors, your window sills are at risk as well. You need to make sure your windows are caulked. They need to be checked every 2 years as well. Caulking has a life span. Some are better than others. You might get 5 years out of one kind and 3 years out of another. On top of that, if the caulking wasn’t properly applied it won’t even last that long. We’ve also seen the wrong kind of caulk used, which is why having an educated contractor complete the job is so important. Damage from water getting in and around windows can be extensive. Just like in door jamb wood rot, the major damage happens from the inside out. Recently a customer called reporting a little bit of black mold showing around the window trim. After we investigated it further, the whole window and framing had to be replaced. It’s about a $6,000 repair that was completely avoidable with good caulking practices.
6. Wood Trim: Most homes have some kind of trim around on the outside. This needs to be caulked and painted regularly, just like the windows and doors. If water gets in behind the painted surface, you will start to get wood rot. Basically, anything that involves the structure of the home, is going to cost a lot. Simple yearly inspections can prevent these types of problems. This repair pictured was on an old building. It required taking off siding, rebuilding half of the roof overhang as well as replacing all the trim which totalled a $3200 repair.
The easy fix is to have all the areas of your home that are painted and caulked inspected every 2 years. This is even more important today as oil based paints are not readily available anymore and latex based paints don’t hold up as long.
7. Treated Decks and Fences: Decks and fences are found on almost every home. They typically are a large investment to install, so caring for them properly will go a long way to preventing further costs. The major cause of lumber failing is that they aren’t properly sealed the first time. Often they are never sealed. It’s the first seal coat that is the most important. But as a good rule, staining or sealing decks and fences should be done every few years. Depending on what product you use the frequency may change, but it is always good practice to check for any chipping or exposed wood often. Proper inspection and maintenance is even more important today as current treatment processes to treated wood are not as effective as older more toxic treatments.
While it’s not cheap to have someone seal your deck or fence, it’s worth the investment to get many many years use out of them. The deck pictured was neglected. The cost of a new one was $10,000. So spending $1,500 to have your deck sealed every 3 or so years will allow your products to last even longer. At the very least, you should be sealing the lumber within the first 6 months after it’s installed. This one coat will extend the life dramatically.