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Old 10-11-2008, 10:48 AM   #1
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Dry rot project


I posted some pictures of this before and have just now started the fix. This is the result of water dribbling into an unflashed corner for 27 years.

My original plan was to take out as much damaged wood as I could, insert wood blocks in the spaces, and pack with bondo. The cavity however is too large and irregular to do this.

Plan B is to patch the small holes and cracks with bondo, put a small form on the outside, and flow concrete into the space. The concrete would adapt to all the irregularities.

Either way I'll be hosing the area down several times with chemicals and preservatives, and flashing it like crazy when I'm done.

Does someone see a better fix? Is there a problem with pouring concrete against wood like that?
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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Wow, what a mess.

You're not going to like this, but it is the honest truth...

You can't fix that by pouring concrete in it, and you certainly can't fix it with bondo. Bondo is great for non-structural wood repairs, but garage return walls are highly structural as they bear the weight of the header and roof/floor above, as well as serving as a shear collector. Pouring concrete in there will only allow the rotting to continue, as the untreated wood can't be in contact with the concrete. Concrete wicks moisture. The wood I'm seeing is too damaged to continue to serve in its structural application, and it needs to be replaced.

My suggestion is to remove one sheet of siding from the wall on the side of the garage, and systematically cut the bottoms from all of the damaged studs. A new piece can be added in place, and a new length of stud should be installed adjacent to the splice to add rigidity. The bottom plate should be replaced as well. It would be smart to support the header to the slab while doing this work, and do one small section at at time.

I did a similar project to replace some dryrot in a load-bearing wall in my house. This picture illustrates what I'm talking about.

This is a lot of work, but anything less will result in further rot and possibly some significant eventual structural deterioration.
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Old 10-11-2008, 02:46 PM   #3
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Dry rot project


Thanks for the reply. Yes, I guess I was in denial hoping to get it patched up before the rains and move on to something else. I'll be tinkering with this for the next few months. Fortunately that corner of the house hasn't shown any settling, no indications like cracks in the sheetrock.
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:41 PM   #4
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Fortunately that corner of the house hasn't shown any settling, no indications like cracks in the sheetrock.
Give it time, it will...Unless you get it supported!
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Wow, what a mess.

You're not going to like this, but it is the honest truth...

You can't fix that by pouring concrete in it, and you certainly can't fix it with bondo. Bondo is great for non-structural wood repairs, but garage return walls are highly structural as they bear the weight of the header and roof/floor above, as well as serving as a shear collector. Pouring concrete in there will only allow the rotting to continue, as the untreated wood can't be in contact with the concrete. Concrete wicks moisture. The wood I'm seeing is too damaged to continue to serve in its structural application, and it needs to be replaced.

My suggestion is to remove one sheet of siding from the wall on the side of the garage, and systematically cut the bottoms from all of the damaged studs. A new piece can be added in place, and a new length of stud should be installed adjacent to the splice to add rigidity. The bottom plate should be replaced as well. It would be smart to support the header to the slab while doing this work, and do one small section at at time.

I did a similar project to replace some dryrot in a load-bearing wall in my house. This picture illustrates what I'm talking about.

This is a lot of work, but anything less will result in further rot and possibly some significant eventual structural deterioration.
I agree.

The only thing that pouring concrete in there will do is make it much harder to fix when you have to go in and do it right.

Do it right the first time and get it over with. No sense in delaying the inevitable.

This is structural and needs some serious supports when you do this. Get help of you need to.

"A man's got to know his limitations." Dirty Harry.
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Last edited by Marvin Gardens; 10-11-2008 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:08 AM   #6
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Dry rot project


What a cool problem. You should love stuff like this. I promise if you do the right thing, your neighbors are going to be envious for having so much fun!

I agree with "thekctermite" it has to be done right using the proper techniques and materials.

Question...What's that space in front of the door where the ladder is? What normally goes there?

Observations: No flashings on the bottom sills. The valley up on that roof corner is not at all helping the situation and I think part of the water is coming from there.

I would tear everything away from those walls and rebuild what needs to be replaced inside. If you remove all the exterior finish it's going to be a lot easier and heck, your wife can choose a new look for the outside walls.


-pete

BTW if there is rot that can't be replaced you need to buy a stabilizing product for the wood (don't make up your own recipe with bleach or something like that)
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HandyPete View Post
What a cool problem. You should love stuff like this. I promise if you do the right thing, your neighbors are going to be envious for having so much fun!

I agree with "thekctermite" it has to be done right using the proper techniques and materials.

Question...What's that space in front of the door where the ladder is? What normally goes there?

Observations: No flashings on the bottom sills. The valley up on that roof corner is not at all helping the situation and I think part of the water is coming from there.

I would tear everything away from those walls and rebuild what needs to be replaced inside. If you remove all the exterior finish it's going to be a lot easier and heck, your wife can choose a new look for the outside walls.
Thanks for the feedback. The space in front of the door is the gap between where the decided to end the concrete driveway and side of the house. There is a thin slab in front of the door. The house is on a downhill slope and grade at that space drops 7 feet. The space is normally bridged over with a small redwood deck which I'm also replacing.

Once I striped some siding and sheetrock, I could see the reframing won't be difficult, just slice out the posts and some studs with a circular saw. Of course I will need to wedge timbers under the top plate in the corner and under the garage header, possibly using a jack.

The finish work will probably take a lot longer, and for sure I will use every kind of flashing and membrane at my disposal to make certain not drop of water gets to the area again. And yes the valley on the roof corner was the primary problem. Repairs like this are fun if you are not working under a deadline.
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:25 PM   #8
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Repairs like this are fun if you are not working under a deadline.
I always put a header under the headline just to be safe.
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Old 10-13-2008, 07:31 AM   #9
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here is a thought!!! could you cut out all the rotted wood to the foundation and install cement block up 8" above grade, then install mud sill and cut out the rot on your existing studs so they rest on your new mud sill. keep everything flush with the outside. this way you can bring your siding down to cover.
or remove all rotted wood below grade and make some forms to install concrete and keep in mind you would want to bring the forms up about 8" above grade. by making the forms you can control the shape of the concrete (8" base ,and then 4" for wall above grade,) this way you will not protrude into the inside of the garage, and will not interfere with the garage door frame.
with a situation like yours if you replace the wood and flash it. water is still going to get into there. If it was my house this is what I would consider. do it right so you do it once. BOB
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Old 10-13-2008, 09:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by buletbob View Post
here is a thought!!! could you cut out all the rotted wood to the foundation and install cement block up 8" above grade, then install mud sill and cut out the rot on your existing studs so they rest on your new mud sill. keep everything flush with the outside. this way you can bring your siding down to cover.
or remove all rotted wood below grade and make some forms to install concrete and keep in mind you would want to bring the forms up about 8" above grade. by making the forms you can control the shape of the concrete (8" base ,and then 4" for wall above grade,) this way you will not protrude into the inside of the garage, and will not interfere with the garage door frame.
with a situation like yours if you replace the wood and flash it. water is still going to get into there. If it was my house this is what I would consider. do it right so you do it once. BOB
FWIW - I was thinking on the same line as Bob. Get some solid concrete under there, to support that area, and to stay solid (without the danger of water damage rot in the future).
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Old 10-13-2008, 11:07 AM   #11
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I agree, concrete isn't a bad idea and wouldn't be very tough to do. I'd do concrete instead of block though. It would be easy to form up a 12" curb on top of the existing foundation on the front and at least a portion of the side. You'd have to remove a section of that bolted rim/ledger, and it would be advisable to install some reinforcement from the existing foundation to the new (drilled in rebar dowels) as well as a couple horizontal sticks of rebar. Don't forget the j-bolts to anchor the new bottom plate.

This would in fact be a permanent fix and would take care of your water issue long-term.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:34 AM   #12
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I thought I would post my fix for the rot problem. Its not finished yet but the rest of it is routine. Each day I worked on it I was running into unexpected problems. For the contractors out there, how would you price something like this?

I discovered a great tool on the project, that vibrating plunge cutter called multimaster. I couldn't have cleanly taken out sections of beam and stud without it. I think their patent is running out. I see dremel is coming out with one very similar.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:44 AM   #13
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See if this works
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:45 AM   #14
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I thought I would post my fix for the rot problem. Its not finished yet but the rest of it is routine. Each day I worked on it I was running into unexpected problems. For the contractors out there, how would you price something like this?
By the hour or open ended. No way I would give a fixed price.

If they wanted me to tear it apart for a fixed price I would do that. Then if they wanted a firm price to fix it I would add another 50%-100% to my bid to cover my ass-ets.

When I first started I did a lot of jobs for less than $1 an hour cause I didn't realize what was involved and underbid it. I learned my lesson real fast.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:50 AM   #15
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By the way. Make sure you paint the ends of that PT you cut or you will have a similar problem down the road. Once you cut PT the ends are now open for water to get in.

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