Concrete form wood: Why removing it from your crawlspace is so important

By
Home Inspector with Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc.

Concrete form wood is often left in place in crawlspaces. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, who oversees Structural Pest Inspectors like myself, form wood left in crawlspaces is a conducive condition for Wood-Destroying Organisms (WDOs). If left in place, form wood can attract and harbor unwanted WDOs, which can then get into other parts of your home. For this reason, I always recommend any form wood be removed as completely as possible.

In some homes, removing form wood is a snap; they pop right off with a few taps of a hammer. In other homes, removing the form wood "as completely as possible" can sometimes mean "impossible." As in the photo of two wood form ties below, some form wood has concrete "spill-over," which would need to be broken off in order to remove the boards. And even in that case, getting 100% of the wood out from under the stem wall can be difficult to impossible to accomplish.

One solution that I've seen for stubborn form ties like these is to break them off at the stem wall and then cover the exposed ends of the form ties with new concrete. In this scenario, the concrete would act as a barrier to prevent any WDOs in the remaining wood from getting into the crawlspace.

It is also important to ensure that removing the form wood/ties leave no openings to the outside environment. If so, I suggest sealing the openings to prevent rodents and other unwanted pests from entering the crawlspace.

If you decide to leave the form ties in place (or just can't remove them), I suggest that any form wood remaining be regularly inspected for WDO activity.

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Rainmaker
770,215
Barbara Michaluk
Weichert Realtors, 3816 International Dr, Silver Spring, MD - Silver Spring, MD
Top Producing REALTOR Montgomery County, Maryland

Jason, thanks for sharing this information about concrete form wood.  You taught me something today.

Oct 21, 2009 05:32 PM #1
Rainmaker
222,686
Brian Brumpton
Keller Williams Boise - Boise, ID
Boise Idaho Real Estate

Jason,

I've never seen that one before.  Thanks for the post, not that I spend much time in crawl spaces, but it is good information to have.

Oct 21, 2009 05:37 PM #2
Rainmaker
205,571
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

I see form wood left in place in the crawl space all over Central Kentucky when doing home inspections.

Lazy workers?  Or are they on the payroll of the local termite companies?

Who knows?

But it does need to come out!

Oct 22, 2009 03:52 PM #3
Rainmaker
239,207
Gene Allen
Resh Realty Group - Virginia Beach, VA
Realtor Hampton Roads Real Estate

Just lazy workers I am sure.  There aren't any craftsman anymore.

Oct 24, 2009 03:54 PM #4
Rainer
67,262
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

I wouldn't go so far as to say there aren't any craftsmen anymore; just that quality work is expensive.  Form wood has been left in place by builders for as long as there has been concrete foundations.  Sometimes it's laziness.  Sometimes it's an over sight.  Sometimes, the builder doesn't even know it's supposed to be removed.  In any case Jason is right about it being an invitation to wood destroying insects.

Oct 28, 2009 03:25 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,181,298
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

I have had builders argue that I am being mean for calling it out. Not per the WSDA rules in this state.

Feb 02, 2010 02:05 PM #6
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Rainer
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Jason Aldrich

Sequim, WA Home Inspector
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