What I'm Seeing Now


Pressure-Treated Wood Can Rot!

Pressure-treated wood can rot!

People think their pressure-treated wood decks will never rot.

Another urban legend  rears its ugly head.

The first pressure-treated wood was invented by Dr. Karl Wolman in the early 20th century.  He developed a water-based process to infuse salts into the wood that would displace the sap and thereby preserve it.  And he tweaked his formulas and techniques for decades.

From that start his chemical process went to a CCA liquid - Chromated Copper Arsenate - which was a mixture of copper sulfate and arsenate chromate dissolved in water.   Similar chemical mixes were used for decades.  In the United States the arsenate (a form of arsenic) was removed from pressure-treated wood formulas in 2004.

This deck was built in the late 80s.  It probably used a CCA then.  However, there are different uses and grades of pressure-treated woods.  For example, stamps can be seen which say things like UC4A (Ground Contact, General Use) and UC4B (Ground Contact, Heavy Use).  While it's unknown what grade wood was used for this deck, it could very well be that the common parlance of the era, at hardware stores and used by contractors, was that the wood would last forever.

Of course, that isn't true.  This post is rotting and/or damaged by termites.  It is compromised.  The rest of the deck columns were compromised as well, with severe splits, cracks, huge splinters and warping.  It is basically unsafe.  Walking out onto the very damaged deck, it could truthfully be said that it isn't "rotting!"

My recommendations:   due to urban legends people sometimes accuse home inspectors of making things up.  This homeowner was upset that I had made something up just to put it on the inspection report!  We don't make things up on home inspection reports!  The house is the house, the condition is the condition, and those things are observed and reported by the inspector.  And it might be worth a smidge of an attempt at trying to understand the report and actually LOOKING at the photos therein to see what the home inspector is saying!  Anything less than basic understanding a home inspection report prior to accusing anyone about it is lazy and counterproductive.  Oh, and remember this news flash:  Wood decks don't last forever.  Pressure-treated wood can rot!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 30 commentsJay Markanich • April 27 2017 10:24AM
Pressure-Treated Wood Can Rot!
Pressure-treated wood can rot! People think their pressure-treated wood decks will never rot. Another urban legend rears its ugly head. The first pressure-treated wood was invented by Dr. Karl Wolman in the early 20th century. He developed a… more
When Sharp Screws Are Used In Electric Panel Boxes
When sharp screws are used in electric panel boxes. I see it all the time. The original screws that came with an electric panel box have been removed and replaced with different screws not meant for the box. Why can different screws be "not… more
'Tis The Season For Poison Ivy To Start
'Tis the season for poison ivy to start. And you have to look for it! It is easier to remove when it's small. Poison ivy and poison oak are very common in this area. They are similar in that they have three equal-sized, and shiny, green leaves… more
I Would Not Walk Out Onto This Deck!
I would not walk out onto this deck! Why? Because it looked to me like it would collapse at any minute. These are only a couple of the problems with this deck. Ledger beams are the long boards that attach to the house. In this era ledger beams… more
The Coolest Plumber's Tool Kit I Have Ever Seen!
The coolest plumber's tool kit I have ever seen! On this pre-drywall inspection the builder was installing CPVC plumbing, which is the most common plumbing product in this area. This is the only time I can see the house in a skeletal condition. A… more
When A Dryer Vents Through The Roof
When a dryer vents through the roof. I see it all the time, and for about 20 years now. Dryers that vent through the roof. To me it is not a smart installation. And problems are inherent for any homeowner with dryers that vent through the roof… more
A Passive Radon Mitigation System Installed In New Construction
A passive radon mitigation system installed in new construction. One thing I am seeing more and more in new construction is the installation of a passive radon mitigation system which would only need a fan should a house test positive for radon. Not… more
Should A Builder Change An Installation To Accommodate The Buyer?
Should a builder change an installation to accommodate a buyer? This is a good one. The buyer of this house wanted a basement laundry room in addition to the normal one on the bedroom level. The builder said fine. This is what we found on the pre… more
The Great Reveal Of This New Home Was.. Revealing.
The great reveal of this new home was.. revealing. When a final walk through is scheduled on new construction, to happen a week or so before closing, the idea is to show the house off! And let the buyer see the features, and get a feel for the… more
This Expansion Tank Is Probably Too Heavy For The Plumbing
This expansion tank is probably too heavy for the plumbing. This brand new house is fitted with the plastic CPVC plumbing. It's fine material, when installed right, and has been used around here in residential construction for about 20 years. But,… more