Home Improvement--General/water damage exterior wall


wall pic
wall pic  
QUESTION: Hi. We have water damage on the exterior wall (sheathing) from a recent roof leak. Can we repair the sheathing from the inside, without affecting the exterior siding? The wood is rotten in spots. Thank you

ANSWER: Linda,

It is difficult to make a definitive assessment of the damage and proper repair procedures with the information provided.  It is doubtful however, that proper repairs can be made without removing the siding in the affected areas.  Additionally, removing the siding will allow you to thoroughly review the extent of the damage.  If the  roof leak persisted long enough to cause wood rot it is likely that some structural damage may have occurred.  Removal of the siding and  wet or damaged wall sheeting is the best way to expose any damage and effect repairs to deteriorated  wall framing.  

Good luck

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. The leak came between the chimney and exterior wall due to flashing. Water found on bedrrom flr and that is how it was discovered. We have had the roof repaired/reshingled.  We ripped open the drywall and the area seems to be confined to a relatively small space. We cut out the damaged studs with plans to replace. We cut out the damaged flooring and cannot see more visable damage below. We were hoping to relay the flooring piece and seal it back up but I am concerned about the sheathing. If it is rotted I assume it should be replaced and cannot find any method to do this from the inside. Ripping off my cedar siding scares me but if we need to, we need to. Cost is a huge concern for us at the moment


Thank your for the additional information.  If the damage to the sheeting is minimal in size it is not imperative that it be replaced.  Sheeting imparts structural stability to the studs by bracing the wall framing against racking along the plane of the wall, as well as tying the studs and the plate to the band.  Additionally it provides a flat stable surface upon which to secure the siding.  
While it is obviously desirable to have the sheeting in pristine condition, a small area of damage will not compromise the structural integrity of your home.  In the past it was common practice to build using plywood or OSB sheeting on the corners to provide adequate bracing and use styrofoam sheeting elsewhere which provided a flat surface for the siding but minimal bracing.  

As a professional and contentious builder, I always prefer to replace all damaged areas if possible when making a repair. I realize, however that it is not always practical to do so. Based on your description and photo it appears the area of damage on the sheeting will not significantly compromise the integrity of your wall.  

Before you close the wall back up though, make sure the leak is completely stopped.  I would also suggest using a wood stabilizing product such as Minwax wood hardner on the soft spot to prevent further degradation. Lastly, siding is usually attached to the studs not just the wall sheeting.  If you removed any studs some of the nails left in the wall sheeting may have been securing the siding, so check the siding in the repaired area to determine if additional nails are required to re-secure the siding.

Good luck,  

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Tony Wood


I can answer a wide range of home improvement and maintenance questions. My expertise is in carpentry, painting, framing, siding/boxing, doors, windows, decks and screen and glass enclosures. Wood's Home Maintenance Service


I am a life time resident of North Carolina with over 30 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 23 years I have owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service , providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina.


Several Home improvement articles published on Angie's List and other online forums.

High School graduate ~ proficient in CAD (computer aided design), Open Office program suite.

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