Probing for dry rot

I was having a conversation with an inspector friend and within that conversation I brought up probing for dry rot on siding or at decks. His reaction was total surprise. He stated that he “never” probed for dry rot. And stated that we are visual generalists. Which that is somewhat true. It made me question myself. Should I be probing for dry rot where it is somewhat typical to show up?

Yes, just try not to much visible damage when probing…I mean we don’t need to pull out big chunks to assess the area. :smile:

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That’s why I carry a screwdriver in my hand while overlooking siding. Great multi tool.

Tap tap poke, tap tap poke…
Works good for a picture pointer too…

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A screwdriver works good as does a sharp ice pick. I made a leather sheath for it.

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Thank you for the responses. I do my best to do little areas. I have a screwdriver and I also bought an expanding walking stick for areas over head. It seems to work well.

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Yes sir. I use an awl.
Remember, While some may agree, others may not. Its totally up to you.

Structural Wood Damage Probing

You can not damage wood that is sound, in good condition, with an awl to the point of were failure would occur. It is very difficult, to say the least, to enter good sound building lumber. Only the tip enters.
Always probe exterior or interior painted wood on a side that is not visible. *Be sure the owner is not present.
I leave my awl in place and snap an image.
Secondly, I use a moisture meter to capture the readings and move along.
Hope that helps.

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Some States require probing, but it sounds like you plan to do a lot of “sticking”, which I do not recommend. If you cause damage that was not warranted you may get the repair bill!

If you first see signs of water damage then probing determines the extent of this damage. To stick something that looks fine, just because you often find damage in that location does not qualify.

This is what a moisture meter is for. It’s a non-intrusive testing device (do not stick meter pins all over the place either).

Per SOP, if you can’t see it, your not responsible for it.
If your paranoid about covering your ass, take a picture of everywhere water damage could or often occurs and keep them on file for 10yrs.

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Maryland requires you to probe unless it would damage finishes.
B. Probing.
(1) A home inspector shall probe a representative number of structural components where
deterioration is suspected or where clear indications of possible deterioration exist.
(2) Probing is not required:
(a) If it will damage any finished surface; or
(b) Where no deterioration is visible.
09.36.07.04

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I don’t probe unless I see visible water damage/deterioration; or if I suspect it’s painted over water damage/deterioration.

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Eight million dollar home on Lake Michigan was perfect with the new exterior paint job, the client said.

A while later, I asked her to come out and see something. I asked her if she though she could push my screwdriver into this wood sill? She said no but I encouraged her to try.

When she touched the screwdriver to the wood it went in about 1 1/2" without any force, she said. I told her that they were all like that… as well as some other trim.

She shrugged and said “We have a carpenter that will fix all of that but just look at the view of the sand dunes and the lake!”

I said “Yes, it is beautiful, I just want you to know what you are buying.”

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If the wood is good condition, kissing it with a screwdriver won’t affect anything. If not, it’s reportable. So, yes, probe away.

Great story, Larry. My experience is that the high dollar folks either have the “I don’t care” attitude or the “I want every detail” attitude. No middle ground. :grin:

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Careful. Let’s say you probe some areas where there is NO visible damage and you found none. Later the buyer discovers damage in a area that there was NO visible damage. Is it reasonable that you should have probed that area too? A court might find it so being that you tested several other areas where no visual evidence existed - why not all? Your actions give the impression that you go over every square inch of the building with a probe.
Nope. I recommend sticking to probing only those areas where you can see visual evidence.

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I agree, John. Probe where you can see visual evidence.