I just don't know about the way houses are built these days...

mosquitogang201August 22, 2014

I went to replace some paperboard siding on my ~20 year old house today. Plywood sheathing underneath was rotted all along the sill plate and a couple inches up. Flakes off and crumbles to dust when you touch it. This was not from water getting behind the siding. It's from moisture wicking up through the bottom edge of the plywood. Which is more than the recommended 6 inches off the ground. Considering that OSB and plywood are what's used to resist wind and/or seismic loads this does not seem like a good situation. Being the point of the sheathing is to transfer the loads into the sill plate it cannot be good for the sheathing to be rotted at this connection. Plus the nails are all rusted. Granted probably just surface rust for now but they will eventually rust through. And what about those 16 inch wide garage portal walls that code allows now? That's an extremely small amount of material to begin with. What happens when the OSB on those starts to rot away? Which makes me wonder if I should pull off the drywall to look in the 24 inch walls on my garage. I bet they're rotted at the bottom too. If I ever build my own house I'll make sure it's not just glue that keeps my house from blowing over in the wind.

Sorry for the long ramble. I guess I just wonder how long these houses are going to hold up? What are your thoughts?

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A valid concern. The only real test for construction materials and techniques is time. The question is how things stand up after many years under real world conditions, ie inhabited by actual human beings who cook, take showers, breathe, etc. rather than computer modeling. An awful lot of current materials and practices may look good on paper, but have a scanty, to put it mildly, real world track record. Add to this the various strategies for air tightness done in the name of "energy efficiency" and you have a receipe for housing with the potential for very quick deterioration.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 5:15AM
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How is water wicking up the plywood at a level more than 6" off the ground? Are there gutters? Is the grade proper? Something does not seem correct, any pictures?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 6:56AM
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" Being the point of the sheathing is to transfer the loads into the sill plateâ¦"

Only if your house is made of Structural Insulated Panels. The loads are transferred to the sill plate by the framing. Sheathing prevents racking.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:52AM
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I don't have a picture since I've already put everything back together. But I think the plywood is rotting for a couple reasons: 1) We get torrential rains which create a mist up to a foot off the ground, which would get up behind the siding. No gutter but honestly when the wind is driving rain in at a 45 degree angle a gutter isn't going to help. 2) it's hot and extremely humid here 9 months out of the year. 3) On a concrete slab which of course soaks up water. I wonder if the PT sill gets wet enough from this that it can wick water into the plywood.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:28AM
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