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It just keeps snowballing

Posted by mommabird (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 23, 12 at 21:55

My house has aluminum siding, put on in 1970 over the original wood siding installed when the house was built in 1984. It badly needs painting. So, I decided before I start painting I would replace the front door on my enclosed breezeway.

3 weekends ago my dad came up to help me replace the door. We removed the old door and found that the entire wall was completely rotted - water had been leaking in, probably since the house was built. We spent 2 days tearing off the olf wall, re-framing it, installing new windows & the new door. We had carefully removed the old aluminum siding so we could re-use it. Problem was, it didn't fit. The door & windows were not exactly in the same place.

Last weekend my friend and I removed the siding from the back of my garage. We used it to re-side the front of the breezeway. It matches up really well & looks great (but still needs painted).

What we found when we removed it from the back of the garage is 1. water has been leaking behind it and the top 2/3 of original wood siding is completely rotted, and 2. the window sill of the garage window is completely rotted.

I've decided to just remove the window & frame it in, install sheeting & cover it when I install new siding next weekend. I can't get siding to match the rest of the house, but I have a ravine behind my house & nearest neighbors are 1/2 a mile on the other side of the ravine, so it doesn't matter.

I'm afraid what we'll find when we start tearing off the rotted old siding on the back of the garage - I hope the sheets & framing is not rotted. It's a bearing wall so I hope the top beam isn't rotted!

What I thought was a project that would cost $200 and take 3 hours has cost $1100 and taken 3 weekends so far. Will this snowball ever end?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: It just keeps snowballing

No. But you have lots of company.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

Aluminum siding (and even wood siding) are not the final drainage plane on the exterior of the house.

By covering over the wood with aluminum all you did was accelerate the rot by further trapping moisture in the wood.

The tar paper layer behind the siding IS the drainage plane intended to stop water intrusion.

If there is a lot of rot in the old wood siding, it is likely it should also be removed, the structure checked for damage, and then sheathing and a drainage plane be installed before new siding.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

I have to agree.
both metal and vinyl siding
hides a multitude of problems.

yours is not an uncommon problem.

hopefully it isn't as bad everywhere.
but don't be suprised if it is.
as you have learned a small project

best of luck.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

I just noticed a typo in the original post. My house was built in 1954, not 1984. The owners who owned it in 1970 put on the aluminum siding.

Lesson learned, but I don't think I'll ever be able to sell this house and go apply it somewhere else! Lesson is, don't buy a house with 2 layers of siding.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

I feel for you, that you found all this, but in a way finding it now may give you some options.. Depending on how far the rot has gone, it is possible that the basic house structure may be intact.
It is a big job but doable to remove all of both layers of siding and reside. That might be something to think about if you plan to live in the house for many years or sell it some day.


I would love to rip it all off down to the sheating, but just don't have the $$ to do it now. My dad is coming next week to continue helping. We'll tear off the old wood siding on the back of the garage and see what we find. You can see the studs on the inside of the garage - there's no wallboard. From the inside, the studs look fine and not rotted. Crossing my fingers they really are OK.

I'm trying to focus on the positive - my family has a roof over our heads, food on the table, and shoes on our feet. :)

RE: It just keeps snowballing

"From the inside, the studs look fine and not rotted."

If you have access t the studs take an ice pick and push it into the sides of the studs near the exterior.

You may need to go every 3-4 inches on both sides of each stud.

If there is a rotted spot you will know right away.

It just takes a lot of time.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

Most of us 'Old House Owners' feel your pain! It seems that every project turns into a much larger issue once you start it. That is partly the fun part of owning an old house, is that you get to restore it as you go. Kudos to you for taking the time to do it right.

I was in the process of trying to buy an old brick house once, that was covered in aluminum siding. I kept asking myself, "why would someone cover lovely brick with aluminum?" The owners lied on the contract and said it was because their son worked for an aluminum siding company and they wanted to give him that first sale. Luckily I had an amazing inspector that thought it was odd as well. Turns out the chinking in the brick had completely dissolved over the years, and the siding was hiding the fact that the house was falling down around bad brick and rotten members. Great lesson for me. Now I steer clear of that type of siding, and see it mainly as a coverup for taking care of the original problem, or possibly as the cause of a future problem.

I'm not sure where you live, but have you tried to find a building material store that may have discounted products? There's one local to me where they guy buys tractor trailer loads of stuff and re-sells it at great prices. I resided a part of my house with the cedar siding I found there, for a fraction of the cost. Best of luck to you in your continued efforts to restore you house.

RE: It just keeps snowballing

"chinking in the brick"

Do you mean the mortar?

Chinking refers to filing in between logs in log cabins, not bricks.

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