Wood rot in Northwest homes can be caught in its early stages, before causing major damage.

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Q: How can we keep our home protected from rot during the soggy months?

A: Wood rot in homes and buildings in the Northwest is a common occurrence. It is caused when bacteria have a chance to grow in the right environment, and usually, the introduction of moisture is all it takes to complete the equation.

Thankfully, though, decay takes time and can be caught in its early stages, before causing major damage.

It’s important to understand how moisture can be introduced to your home in the first place. The three most common reasons for this are lack of maintenance, bad design or inferior workmanship. And frankly, if all of these are performed correctly, there is no reason why rot in our homes should be as prevalent at it is.

So what’s the solution to keep rot at bay? Keep your home maintained, and if you are going to have your home remodeled, be sure to hire a reputable contractor who cares about quality and proper installation techniques.

If there is a rot repair that needs attention on your home, most often the fix of the cause is simple, but the damage in many cases requires a level of surgical precision that can only come from high-level expertise. Again, find a contractor who has the experience to fix your home permanently.

Keeping our homes maintained is certainly an ongoing task that we all know very well as homeowners. But what are some of the areas on your home where you should watch for moisture infiltration, and what are some of the signs?

Here are some common areas that can be problematic for moisture intrusion, and where you should look when performing your periodic home maintenance. Most of your homes out there will be fine, and, for the most part, it will be obvious if there is a problem.

Gutters and downspouts. Look for constant drips or leaks in the corners of your gutters, and perhaps moisture discoloration on your fascia or soffits. Keep your gutters clean.

Roof to wall flashing. Look for any degradation in your siding covering the step flashing or flashing separating from your chimney.

Weatherproof decks. These can be extremely damaging to your home because usually they are located over living spaces. Problem areas here are at doors or railing interfaces. Look for bubbles or nail pops in the deck membrane, and look for moisture discoloration in the home underneath this area. Typically, these decks need a new coating every five years.

Deck rims. There isn’t going to be much to look for here because it’s hard to get to. Look for flashing over the deck rim.

Window flashing and trim. Your windows should have a metal flashing above the head trim, and keep your exterior trim well painted and caulked.

Wood in contact with soil. Wood components on your home should be at least 6 inches away from soil.

Paying attention to maintenance is critical to a home or building’s long-term survival, especially here in the Northwest with all our rain.

Daniel Westbrook is the owner of Westbrook Restorations and is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column. If you have a home  improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.