How to Replace a Rotted Sill Plate
LESLIE: David in Texas is dealing with some rotting wood. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: I have an area on my house. I removed my siding and there’s a low spot where the porch meets my house. And the water stayed there and it rotted out my siding and I pulled it off. The bottom lower plate is also rotted.
DAVID: And I dug all of it out – all the dry rot out – and I was wondering what would be the best to put in there.
TOM: OK. So where the siding reached the porch, that all rotted. And because the water was sitting there, it actually went into the frame itself and rotted out the sill plate of the wall?
TOM: OK. So where have you – have you exposed the wall from the porch side? So is the siding torn off there?
DAVID: Right. I pulled it off the bottom sheet of siding.
TOM: So what you have to do here is a little wall surgery. You have to cut out that sill – the rotted area of sill – and you have to slip a new sill underneath the studs. Is that possible from that side?
DAVID: I don’t think so. I was wondering if there was some type of composite I could put in there.
TOM: Well, the thing is the sill is a member of the structure, OK? So the studs would sit on top of the sill and the sill sits on top of the foundation. So you can’t really fill the sill or – like you would, say, a rotted piece of wood that you fill with wood putty, because it’s not going to be structurally sound. If the area underneath the stud itself is not compressed and rotted out, then maybe you could just walk away from it and leave it alone now that you fixed the leak issue. But if it’s structurally damaged, the only thing you can do is dig that out.
We see damaged sills all the time with termite infestation, for example. Now, usually it’s easiest to do this from the inside of the house.
Is the house on a basement?
DAVID: No, it doesn’t have a basement.
TOM: So it’s on a crawlspace or a slab?
DAVID: It’s on a slab.
TOM: OK. Yeah, really, what you have to do is remove the siding. You can use a tool called a Sawzall. You know what that is? A reciprocating saw? And you can reach into the wall with that, cut out the old sill, slip in a new sill and put it all back together. That’s the way – the right way to do that repair.
DAVID: Alright. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.