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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wood Rot? Complete Guide

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wood Rot?

In the event of a natural disaster or unexpected accident, I want to have peace of mind knowing that my homeowner’s insurance is going to take care of it. I have recently come across several situations that could potentially happen to my home that raises the question, “will my insurance cover that?” For example, wood rot, I researched and investigated my coverage to find out if my homeowner’s insurance will, in fact, cover it.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover wood rot? Generally, coverage depends largely on what caused the wood rot in the first place. Most often, when wood rot is covered, the wood rot was not the direct issue itself. It typically is a product of a more apparent issue. For example, a burst pipe or a leaking roof. In that case, the event is caused by a home problem that you are already insured for, so you will not have to worry about the wood rot being covered itself. The underlying issue will be covered and the wood rot will be taken care of as a part of the damage. 

What causes wood rot? Can it be prevented? When is wood rot not covered by my homeowners insurance? How do I know I’m getting the best coverage? Whether you’re new to homeowner’s insurance or have had it for years these questions and more will be answered in this post so that you’re confident about your homeowner’s insurance.

Understanding & Recognizing Wood Rot

In the case that your home does experience rotting wood, you want to be knowledgeable and prepared. A simple leak can lead to very serious damages. Thankfully we know where they most often occur. This allows you to keep a close eye on these areas to prevent any major losses to your home. With that, there are certain characteristics of wood rot that allow us to detect the situation early on. Learning this key information will greatly improve your homeowner skills with the hope of saving you money.

What Causes Wood Rot?

So, what causes wood rot? Wood rot is the gradual deterioration of timber caused by wood-eating fungi. This fungus corrodes the strength and rigor of the wood. Once known as “brown rot”, the fungus can cause damage to any home, old or new, given the right conditions. Wood rot thrives in muggy or humid rooms in the home such as basements, attics, laundry rooms, and even behind refrigerators. It exists in dark moist areas that are not always seen. All wood rot needs to flourish is wood or paper and a source of moisture. A small leak can be just as devastating as a large leak when it comes to wood rot.

How Can You Detect Wood Rot?

In order to accurately report to your insurance company the damage to your home, you will need to familiarize yourself with what wood rot could potentially look like. You should not be concerned about every unusual piece of wood. Wood poisoned by wood rot look very dark in color and can seem quite crumbly to the touch. A key sign is cube-like cuts that are deep into the wood. The wood also becomes extremely frail and can sometimes even decompose into dust. The severity of the wood rot depends on the state of the decay from the fungi. In dangerous cases, wood rot has gone as far as to cause structural collapse, thus putting you and your family at risk. Early detection is vital in regards to wood rot.

When Will My Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Wood Rot?

If you used your knowledge of wood rot and have come to the conclusion that your house has wood rot, you’ll want to investigate your homeowner’s insurance coverage. As stated before, generally, coverage depends largely on what caused the wood rot in the first place. Most often, when wood rot is covered, the wood rot was not the direct issue itself. It typically is a product of a more apparent issue. For example, a burst pipe or a leaking roof. In that case, the event is caused by a home problem that you are already insured for, so you will not have to worry about the wood rot being covered itself. The underlying issue will be covered and the wood rot will be taken care of as a part of the damage.

In the case that your insurance company deems the wood rot as a preventable issue, your damage will not be covered. You want to keep track of the routine maintenance of your home. In doing so, you can provide your insurance company with proof that you are indeed eliminating the risk of wood rot and that the damage is due to an underlying issue. Wood rot can be very expensive, its best to become very familiar with your homeowner’s insurance that way you can find the coverage you need.

How to Manage and Prevent Wood Rot

As a homeowner, there are ways for you to prevent wood from rotting and from causing further damage to your home. We know that wood rot thrives in moisture. So, the first step to putting a halt to the damages to your home is to let the wood dry out. Good airflow helps the process go faster and the lessens the chances of moisture getting trapped.

One of the major causes of wood rot is wet bushes or shrubs directly against the siding of the house. Some steps you can take to prevent this and help the airflow is to trim shrubs and trees from your house so that there is enough room for airflow between the two. If you can accomplish keeping the exterior surface of the house dry, you’ll stop wood rot early on. This prevents the fungus and moisture from seeping into the interior of the home where the dangerous damage can take place.

Also, in the event of rain, if any part of your house gets standing water that area is much more susceptible to rot. It’s best to find the source of where the standing water is getting through. This is because standing water can filter its way through cracks in paint and small crevices in your home. Your home’s paint holds the water that it catches and ultimately makes a breeding ground for fungus. The leaks in your home give perfect conditions for wood rot to arise and cause damage.

Treat Fungus on Damaged Wood

There are also ways to kill the spores of fungus on the damaged wood when found. One of the main products experts use is a borate treatment that can easily be applied to wood. Fortunately, the treatment does most of the work and doesn’t just sit on the surface. Instead, it spreads to the whole affected area. This makes the wood inhabitable to fungi once the spores are killed. Thus, guaranteeing that the wood rot will not come back.

You now know that homeowner’s insurance does cover wood rot in most cases. Also, with these easy steps and new information, you’ll be able to prevent wood rot as a confident homeowner.

Related Questions:

Does homeowners insurance cover rotted siding?

As a general rule, your home’s rotted siding is not covered under a homeowners policy. The only way to get help with your rotted wood siding is if you have replacement coverage on your policy. If you have replacement coverage (and most homeowners do), you may be able to replace the rotted wood siding on your home, with new siding that is similar in quality and cost to what was there before. Siding rots from moisture (or condensation) trapped in the wall between your home’s siding and your home’s sheathing. Moisture from a variety of sources can cause rotted wood: plumbing leaks, foundation leaks, water penetration due to poor ventilation or inadequate attic flooring, dew that doesn’t evaporate, and even rotted roof sheathing.  If you have one of these issues your replacement coverage will will help you replace the siding.

In order to qualify, the moisture problem must have existed before you bought your home, and insurance policies typically cover damage due to “continuing sources” of water (meaning a source that started before you owned the home and continued after you bought it).

Does homeowners insurance cover refrigerator leak?

The refrigerator is a home appliance that helps to keep food safe and fresh. While this is normally done quite effortlessly, there are times when refrigerators can be faulty. Refrigerator leaks may cause water damage to your home if there’s flooding from broken fixtures or plumbing. When refrigerator leaks, homeowners insurance can help pay for the damage caused by the refrigerator leak.

How long does it take wood to rot from water damage?

How long wood takes to rot from water damage depends on various factors. The time wood takes to deteriorate can vary by wood type, how the wood was cut or milled and the moisture content of wood at the time it came in contact with water. Once wood has become wet it begins to deteriorate depending on the amount of moisture. As a general rule wood can begin to rot in 12 – 24 months. 

If wood is wet for a period of two months or more there can be a good chance the wood will begin to rot (depending on temperature and wood type). Even wood that appears dry may contain hidden moisture. How wood is exposed to the water has a lot to do with how long it takes wood to rot from water damage.

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Written By

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.

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