What is happening under my homes sidding?

I gently kicked/tapped a couple spots on the very bottom piece of aluminum siding and wood chunks/chips fell out. Is this structual? Do I need to do anything?

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Since the siding is aluminum, it was put up a very long time ago, we're talking at least 40 or 50 years ago, so maybe nothing is going on. Generally, aluminum siding was put up over wood siding that frequently needed to be repainted, and unlike today, it was put up without a polystyrene layer of insulation but instead attached directly to the old wood siding. Just like it gets quite warm in your car, much hotter than it actually is outside, the sun beating down on that siding can make the temperature underneath quite hot, not hot enough to burn your house down but hot enough for it to bake what was left of the paint off the wood siding underneath. When paint gets baked off of wood, it generally takes a small layer of the wood with it. After 40 or 50 years of that, it would therefore come as no surprise that tapping on the siding would cause those painted wood chips, which may not even look painted anymore, to shift downward and fall out, especially when you consider the moisture factor and that over 40 or 50 years enough moisture has gotten behind the siding to cause some degree rot, not a lot, but enough that chips would fall out. 

    That said, there's also the possibility of termites. That's also what happens when termites damage the wood underneath, though that's a bit less of an issue with older houses because of lead paint and the lead leaching from the paint into the wood killing termites, the very reason lead was originally added to paint. However, just to be on the safe side, I'd recommend a termite inspection. If the siding isn't falling off, it's not structural, not yet, but if you do have termites eating away at your house underneath, you want to get it treated before it becomes structural. Still, unless you find the telltale tiny bore holes of termites in other wood around your house, specifically in basement or crawl space rafters or wood at your windows and doors, like window sills and door jambs, it's unlikely to be termites.

    I give it a 90% to 95% of it being nothing, but a 5% to 10% of it being something, and since that something would be termite damage and since termite damage can compromise your home structurally and compromise its salability, reducing its value significantly, that's enough to spend a couple hundred dollars on a termite inspection, because if you have termites, you need to redress the problem immediately with extermination treatment.

    By the way, aluminum costs so much more than it used to that people who have aluminum siding can often get their homes resided with vinyl for little or no cost after selling the aluminum siding to a scrap yard, its scrap value being so high that it will often cover the cost of residing the house in vinyl. 

    New vinyl siding would increase the value of your home. It would also include putting up a layer of polystyrene insulation, which would not only make your house more energy efficient but also create a moisture barrier that would prevent any further wood rot, including dry rot, because despite the name, the fungus that causes dry rot needs moisture to live. 

    So maybe it's time to look into having all that aluminum siding torn off and new, better looking, more protective, and more energy-efficient vinyl siding put up at little or no cost.

  • 2 months ago

    It means the wood underneath is rotten. Check higher up the siding to see if there are leaks and the rain is getting in. It is is plywood, that is the sheathing that goes over the 2x4 frame. If it is bigger bits of wood, you have a bigger problem. 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    That's not supposed to happen.  It suggests that something is damaging the sheathing underneath the siding.  That would particularly be the case if the wood chips that came out were wet or blackened, or would come apart or turn to dust between your fingers.

    If you call a contractor you don't know in order to have it assessed, there's a good chance the contractor will tell you that you need to spend a lot of money repairing it, even if that's not the case.  What you really need to know is what's going on - you don't need a sales pitch.

    You could look up a housing inspector, of the sort that people hire when they're considering buying a house.  Those guys don't do repairs, so they won't bum-rush you into unnecessary work.  Call one up and explain what you're seeing, and see what he/she will charge you to come out and assess it for you.  It shouldn't be much - their usual inspections cover every aspect of a structure and all the utilities, etc...you're not asking for anything so extensive.

    Your main concerns should be a water leak coming from the roof or your own plumbing...or termites.  

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