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Old 08-20-2009, 07:46 PM   #1
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Something eating our fence?


Greetings Everyone!

I've come across an issue that I'm not quite sure about, so I've turned to the trusty forums for help. I recently moved into a brand new home in the Central Texas region, which came with a nice new 6-foot pine privacy fence. Because it is builder grade, it's questionable as to whether or not the wood is treated. My guess is that it is not.

With that said, it appears that something is eating the fence pickets. At first I thought it might be termites or carpenter ants, but the "trails" left behind appear to be different than what I have seen via Google searches. I've included a few photos along with this post so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Has anyone seen this before, and should I be worried?

Thanks!
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Old 08-21-2009, 04:37 PM   #2
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Something eating our fence?


I've watched this post for two days now, hoping for a reply so I could learn from it. I do not know anything about the "varmints" in Texas (except my cousin), so I can't help with that part. The wood almost looks as if it were charred the way it has clumps in it. As far as the wood, it appears to be a type of pine to me. Maybe someone will read the original posting and have an answer. Good Luck, David

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Old 08-21-2009, 04:52 PM   #3
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Something eating our fence?


I suspect some type of insect damage. I believe that the fence may be covered under the new home warranty. Check it out and notify the builder. He may have run across this situation before.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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Something eating our fence?


Unfortunately, the warranty excludes the fence. As a matter of fact, we were required to sign a statement saying we excepted the fence, yard, and landscaping as they were; any issues had to be addressed before closing. Naturally, these spots were not present when we closed.

With that said, I would still like to at least have an idea what might be doing this. Honestly, I'm less worried about the fence, and more worried about the larger structure sitting behind it.
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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Something eating our fence?


That type of cubical cracking is similar to some of the damage that some of the brown rot types of wet rot cause. It's unusual to see it in the middle of the fence, rather than at the bottom.
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:55 PM   #6
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Something eating our fence?


Thanks, that actually does make some sense. We do have an automatic sprinkler system that comes on fairly frequently; I have yet to adjust the sprayers away from the fence, and as I mentioned before I do not believe the wood has been treated. We do have plans to seal the fence, and we might just step up that project.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:04 PM   #7
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Something eating our fence?


Its not varmit damage that you are seeing! Its dry rot that occurred before the tree was harvested!
Quality lumber will have this type of damage discarded!
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:50 PM   #8
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Something eating our fence?


<As a matter of fact, we were required to sign a statement saying we excepted the fence, yard, and landscaping as they were; any issues had to be addressed before closing. Naturally, these spots were not present when we closed.>


That would have been a red flag for me. I would have not signed it.

In the event, that the previous posters are correct; that it is dryrot, then you can check by reaching in these holes to see if the wood crumples or has a spongy type feel to it.
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Old 08-22-2009, 03:20 PM   #9
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Something eating our fence?


So are you saying that you DO have trails? If so, then it is definitely a pest. My guess without seeing any trails would be carpenter ants or termites. But I will say that the damage does not appear to be termites.
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Old 08-23-2009, 11:01 AM   #10
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Something eating our fence?


There are trails on other pickets that appear to be from the past, but they are not present on this one. This particular picket just stood out as being "odd". After asking around here locally, it does appear to be a form of rot. I have no doubt the fence is made of the cheapest material the builder could find.

I should clarify the bit about the warranty - if the fence falls over due to rot within the first month, they'll replace it. If it's a cosmetic issue, forget it. The document we had to sign basically related to items out of their control (i.e., plants dying a day after we close, etc.).

Thanks for everyone's input! We'll be replacing any questionable pickets and having the fence sealed to prevent any additional damage.

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