What is eating my house?

slateberry51October 19, 2010

On the exterior side of my enclosed front porch, if you look up at a cross member, you see a black crack and black debris falls out of it from time to time.

Here is the crack (photo looking up):

and a closer picture:

Here is the black debris that falls onto the windowsill below:

And another sill/debris picture. Notice the dead body (of a winged ant?) to the left of the screwdriver handle:

Previous owner left a bag of diazinon in the shed; I'm tempted to mix it with honey and inject it into the crack. But that just sounds like such a hack job; I'd like to get a little more information rather than just proceeding blindly. House is 120 years old; porch used to be open but was enclosed about 40 years ago. I'd like to redo it someday, it really is an ugly job (plexiglass porch windows on a victorian????), but for now I'd just like to maintain the existing porch.

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Suggest you call an extimator.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Good point, but seeing as I cut my own hair, tile my own bathrooms, re-wire chandeliers just for fun, and fix just about everything else that needs it around here, it made sense to at least attempt to tackle this on my own before picking up the phone*. One of the things I love about gardenweb is the way we all support each other in figuring things out.

But you're right, there are times to call the pros. I'm gonna wait a little longer to see what others post before I do though.

*It might be partly genetic. I can vividly remember my grandfather asking his nephew to use a pair of pliers to pull out a bad tooth. They just sat out in the back yard and took care of it. Boy did he yell, but he was happy to have it over and done with. Those were the days :-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 10:51AM
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Good thing grandpa didn't need brain surgery... :-)

I'm no expert but I'd imagine you're getting some water in there and attracting carpenter ants. Why not take a little of whatever you may have in a spray can or mix up a weak solution of that diazinon and see what it chases out.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 6:29PM
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Yeah, or he might have asked me to do it!!! The diazinon suggestion sounds good Mike, as long as _I_ don't need brain surgery after using that stuff :-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 8:20PM
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Water, water, water, water, water. It is coming from somewhere, most likely the roof. Water then encourages insects, molds, etc. Look at the roof first. Anything else you do will be for naught if you don't get rid of the water.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 11:22PM
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Water leak and some rot, possibly with carpenter ants or other insects.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 12:11PM
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Looks like rot, but there could be any manner of insects in there as well. Can you pry a few boards off? Is there any other evidence of water damage?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 5:14PM
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