Causing and preventing dryrot on eaves

Posted12/1/2019 6:00 AM

Q. When we bought our home, the termite inspector found dry rot on the eaves, and the seller had to pay hundreds of dollars to replace the damaged boards. Now that we're selling the house, only four years later, we've had another termite inspection, and the eaves are rotted once again. This time, it's our turn to pay for the repairs. When we mentioned this to our neighbors, they recalled the same thing happening when they bought their house.

Does this happen to everyone who buys a home? If so, what's the use of making repetitious repairs every few years, while doing nothing to prevent the cause? Isn't there some way to break this costly cycle of damage and repair?


A. Fungus and dry rot damage is a common problem with exterior wood components on buildings, especially on the eaves. These damages typically turn up in the course of presale termite inspections, resulting in repair costs for many sellers.

The leading cause of rotted eave boards is excess moisture, usually because of faulty roof drainage. Water runoff during rainy weather tends to keep the fascia and eave boards wet, and this promotes the growth of microorganisms that feed on wood fibers.

The best way to minimize such damage is to install drip flashing at the edges of your roof. These are L-shaped strips of sheet metal that extend beneath the edges of the roofing, while overlapping the edges of the eaves. Drip flashing promotes roof drainage without allowing the wood members to become as wet as they otherwise would if no edge flashing was installed.

Unfortunately, most building codes do not require the use of drip flashing. Instead, this essential form of protection is an optional amenity whose use is left to the elective discretion of whomever installs the roof. Although the use of drip flashing is indicated by common sense roofs, homes in many areas are constructed entirely without it.

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Anyone who is currently paying for eave repairs or who is in the process of installing a new roof should make sure the builder or contractor installs drip edge flashing. Building a house according to code does not always ensure good quality. The arbitrary omission of drip flashing is a case in point. Drip flashing adds very little to the cost of a roof installation and can prevent very costly repairs when you sell your home.

Q. My house was built in 1973 and has asbestos "popcorn" ceilings that have been painted many times. Is this considered to be "encapsulated" for asbestos safety?

A. Multiple coats of paint provide reasonable encapsulation for a textured ceiling that may contain asbestos. Asbestos fibers can only be released into the air if the ceiling surface is invasively disturbed. However, if you ever sell the house, it would be wise to include the presence of encapsulated asbestos in your disclosure statement. If someone were to do remodeling work that included ceiling demolition, they would need to have that information.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

2019, Action Coast Publishing

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