Beware of the “Kleenex Effect”

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.
http://actvra.in/Qlk

 

While some would argue that I am “nit picking,” the fact is that sometimes it is very important to understand the terms we use. 

wood decay rotI am sure there are interesting studies as to just how things become "generic."  Take Kleenex for example.  Kleenex is a brand name that is commonly used to describe any kind of nose-wipe.  While Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. may have an issue with the misuse of its brand name "Kleenex," the fact remains that when someone says they need a kleenex it really won’t matter too much who the tissue is made by as they all do pretty much the same job.

The term “Dry Rot” is similarly used to generically describe wood decay/rot in homes.  The problem with using this term in a generic fashion is that there is a huge difference between actual Dry Rot and other types of wood decay/rot and requires quite different protocols for elimination.

All types of rot require that the wood have sufficient “free water” to support growth (for this discussion we will assume that oxygen, food and temperatures are suitable).  Moisture levels to support Brown Cubical Rot, Soft Rot, and White Rot (the three most common types of rot) typically have to be above 30% for the organisms to be happy and prosper.  With Dry Rot the wood moisture content will also have to have sufficient free water, but the wood gets to be at this level because the fungus is bringing the moisture to the wood as opposed to the wood being already wet.Decay rot at a drain

This is a very important distinction because fixing a leaky roof or leaky toilet will be sufficient to stop the growth of most wood decay rot brought about by these conditions, but will not be sufficient to stop the growth of a fungus that is growing to the wood---bringing moisture to the wood from the ground.

Dry rot has the potential of attacking huge areas of a home’s structure without any real moisture issue already existing in the wood.  Generally speaking brown rot or soft rot are more likely to be more localized.  It can be more widespread if venting is inadequate or some other condition is present that elevates moisture levels in the woodwork above 30 percent, but generally speaking it will be more localized to the area of leaking---whether a plumbing leak or otherwise.

To date, there have been no documented cases of true “Dry Rot” in Washington State, but because of the Kleenex Effect---many people think it is common.

 

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Rainer
28,349
Curtis C. Brown
CURTIS C HOME INSPECTION SERVICES, LLC (Whatcom County, WA - Bellingham, WA

Just cut that dry-rot out with your Saws-all, patch it with some Bondo then cover it up with Sheetrock. It's a dirty job so you may need some Band-Aids on hand

Feb 06, 2013 09:22 AM #1
Rainer
28,349
Curtis C. Brown
CURTIS C HOME INSPECTION SERVICES, LLC (Whatcom County, WA - Bellingham, WA

I recently had a conversation semi-related to this post with Mr. Smith of King of the House. Talking about  "trademark erosion" 

In this case, could it be referred to as "organism identification erosion"?

Maybe I just have my Stetson on too tight or my Ray bans are dirty....Or maybe it's a termite problem.

Feb 06, 2013 09:39 AM #2
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Curtis, yes brands are not what they used to be.  The thing about organism id erosion is that nobody tells them---they just carry on doing their job :)  (see you soon in B-ham)

Feb 06, 2013 09:46 AM #3
Rainer
28,349
Curtis C. Brown
CURTIS C HOME INSPECTION SERVICES, LLC (Whatcom County, WA - Bellingham, WA

We do need to learn how to identify our Kleenex properly

 

See you soon :-)

Feb 06, 2013 09:52 AM #4
Rainmaker
210,195
Joshua Frederick
Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC - Defiance, OH
Home Inspector - Northwest Ohio

Looks like one of the many crawlspaces that I encounter... glad to see I'm not the only one that is so lucky :)

Feb 06, 2013 10:16 AM #5
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Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Charles - That was an interesting post. Living in a semi-arid climate, we don't see much of this except in older, uncared-for homes or leaking water situations, and I haven't seen enough of it over the years to learn to make any kind of distinction, which I will continue to leave to the experts. But at least I now know that it isn't necessarily a simple call.

Feb 06, 2013 12:44 PM #6
Rainmaker
482,143
René Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
New Media Marketing

Thanks for the class on Dry Rot... I've seen rot before (and assumed it was dry rot)... it was not.

Feb 06, 2013 03:32 PM #7
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Paul Henderson
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
I always put my clients first in any transaction!

When I have a bad cold Charles, my nose appears to have dry rot. 

This is a very interesting post as it does show the broad variety of rot... 

Feb 06, 2013 03:51 PM #8
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Curtis, nothing worse that improperly identified kleenex :)

Joshua, I see way too many of them for sure

Dick, and your neck of the woods is where you would more likely find the "vicious" type of fungus :)

Rene, unfortunately is is a widely misused term.  Sometimes I feel like I am tilting at windmills :)

Paul, good thing we don't have wooden heads or wooden teeth.  I wonder if fungi grew in George Washington's teeth?:)

Feb 06, 2013 04:16 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,239,183
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Great discussion Charlie.  Dry rot is a term that is so often used incorrectly.  Rot happens because of moisture all the time.  I have never heard the words "Kleenex effect!"

Feb 06, 2013 04:33 PM #10
Rainer
170,132
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

It's not nit picking if 'nits' are a form of wood rot, is it?

All we have to do is have everyone calling wood rot by the term 'nits'.

Hows that for proactive etymology, but don't let an entomologist hear you.

Feb 06, 2013 05:22 PM #11
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, feel free to use it---then just throw it away :)

Robert, I can hear it now---"You've got some serious nits in the sill plate!"

Feb 06, 2013 05:38 PM #12
Rainmaker
367,150
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Charlie, This is a rotten post. Even here I see my share of the old "Rot" and we have to earn it in most cases.

Feb 07, 2013 08:00 AM #13
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Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate

Yuck, that looks nasty! I would indeed want an inspector finding things like that!

Feb 08, 2013 05:09 AM #14
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Don, "earning"---great way to describe the difference :)

Barbara, yup---that is what we do :)

Feb 08, 2013 07:12 AM #15
Rainmaker
634,606
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

This is not unlike a generic term here, powder post beetles. Rarely are the beetles infesting wood in most homes PPB's, they are usually anobiids. Get's my nits a pickin'. 

Feb 09, 2013 01:50 PM #16
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