What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 30 commentsJay Markanich • April 27 2017 10:24AM

Comments

Yep, that picture definitely shows rotting wood. That deck definitely needs some TLC.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) 3 months ago

I could stick my finger in it, Kat!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Good morning Jay. Nothing lasts forever, especially wood posts! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) 3 months ago

This is good information, Jay. I was under the impression pressure-treated would last forever but that's clearly not the case.

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty & Management) 3 months ago

You're right, the house is the house, whatever turns up turns up!

Posted by Fred Hernden, Albuquerque area Home Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) 3 months ago

And I thought it was just REALTORS® desparate for a commission that said you make things up. This is a really good peice of information and I plan to share it and thanks.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 3 months ago

This is certainly timely information to share with home owners. I wll schedule a June 2 reblog.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 3 months ago

Great information that we all need to know Jay Markanich !

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 3 months ago

The stars may last for billions of years, but you will last forever, Wayne.  Count on it.

Nathan - I bet we all fall prey to more urban legends than we know!

Fred - and quite a bit turned up on this place!  They client's eyes turned up a lot!

I hear that a lot, Joe!  From realtors and from their sellers!  It's unbelievably ignorant too.  What would it benefit anyone for a home inspector to make something up?  And if I don't know something, I say I don't, but will find out and report back!

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Why not wait until June 6, Roy?  That's D-day!

Anytime, Sheri!  I'm here a lot!  Glad to have you on board!  I hope you learn a lot too.  I learn every day on AR.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Good evening Jay. This hits close to home and is really scary. Next deck will be different.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 3 months ago

So, you have first-hand experience, Shiela?  Bummer if that's the case.  Hopefully you only have to replace the columns!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Jay- Many people might assume that pressure treated wood meant "forever" wood.  But you've shown that is not the case.  Wood + moisture left untreated is never a good thing. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 3 months ago

                  

                                       Thanks Jay Markanich 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 3 months ago

The wood is "treated" in the factory, Kathy, but does not last forever.  And I don't know the quality of the wood initially put there, but it was one of those decks from "kits" companies, so I suspect it was a lesser grade.

Thanks for the Ah-ha!  Glad it was one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Good morning Jay Markanich ,

I'm so glad Kathy Streib featured you in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week. This is a topic that is so important as many sellers are talked in to buying pressure treated wood and are sold a bill of goods that it will never rot. Not the case! Great information in your post..thank you!

Posted by Dorie Dillard, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) 3 months ago

Dorie - pressure-treated wood comes in good, better and best grades.  Get the best.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Hi Jay

I always enjoy learning from you. While I knew pressure treated wood can rot - having seen it a bunch of times myself - I certainly learned a bit about the process here. We are seeing more and more trex decking (and similar) in our area. Not only is there plenty of moisture being near the ocean but termites abound. I believe it is just moisture/rot resistant, not "proof."

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) 3 months ago

At the risk of crushing another urban legend, Jeff, I had this post on Trex decking that was rotting.  A Trex rep even contacted me wanting to know the address, telling me I must be mistaken.  Well, gee, I wasn't...

http://activerain.com/blogsview/5028779/can-composite-decking-rot-

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Nice lesson here. I never understood the pressure treating process...nothing lasts forever.

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) 3 months ago

Oh Jay...I am back at school again today...never knew this one!  thank you!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) 3 months ago

It's been around a long time, Gary, and they are getting better and better.

Ginny - I'm in school every day!  At 89 Michelangelo said, "I am still learning."  Along with not a bad resume.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

I would have had no idea and probably would think it would not rot. I appreciate the information!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 3 months ago

Thanks, Sharon!  Glad the post was informative.

Stop by any time.  I'm here most days!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Hi Jay - yes they do. My house was built in 1988. It appears to be in great condition. However, evey other year I have power washed it and then applied Thompson Wood Protectorate. I have never applied any paint.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 3 months ago

Protected wood, with sealant, stain or paint, will last, Grant.  And that is home maintenance!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

Good Post Jay. I live on the Keweenaw peninsula of upper Michigan where most of the copper prior to 1960 came from. There's a place a few miles from me that manufactures the copper arsinic  products used in much of today's pressure treated lumber. Like you, I do see treated posts rot through if in contact with enough moisture. I also see treated decks dry out and weather over time. Heck, I even see decking such as Trex rot of not properly spaced. 

Posted by Walt Fish, Upper Michigan's Most Experienced Home Inspector (Bay Area Home Inspection, LLC) 3 months ago

Walt - yeah, rot happens!  I have seen the bumper stickers.  And I actually suggest various UV resistant decking protectants to my clients on my inspection reports.

And I had a post with rotting Trex decking just a couple of weeks ago.  After I posted it I was contacted by Trex wanting to know the address and to contact the seller!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

I can see why Kathy chose to highlight your post this week...great job!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) 3 months ago

Water here, wood there, and before you know it you have rot, Krinstin!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 3 months ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments