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Unread 09-05-2021, 10:27 AM   #1
makethatkerdistick
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Termite Damage and Framing Repair

I've been repairing some termite damaged spots in my house over the years. Finally, I am moving on to the (second) to last spot of such damage. All the damage is on the exterior walls.
Unfortunately, this one has some more extensive damage at the top plate. At this point I am very familiar with replacing bottom plates, but maybe you good folks can give me some tips here. Obviously, I would build a temporary wall before I attempt any repair. I am familiar with that.

The house is 1960s brick veneer, so taking down the brick is not really an option at this point. The good news is that there hasn't been any sagging I can discern (or any other movement indicative of load distribution issues). In the picture you see some spray foam that I temporarily put in place to close off leaks until I have time to repair the whole thing.

There is some water damage in the coated gypsum sheathing at the bottom, making it bow into the cavity by approx. 0.5 in.

The two 2x12 headers in the top left are in good shape. Termite damage is just cosmetic. They are in place to span an eight foot wide window opening below.

Of the studs you see, the leftmost is fairly eaten on the inside and needs to come out. The others have some internal damage that doesn't seem substantial enough to impair their load carrying capacity.

Now, the top plate is giving me a bit of a headache. It seems like that the top 2x4 is in one spot (approx. 12 in.) completely eaten. The lower 2x4 has left half of its width. The damage is all located in that one spot and doesn't seem to branch out. I poked into the wood and screwed some screws in various spots to test the wood's strength and to more precisely locate the damaged areas.
Replacing the top plate would require me to extensively disassemble a wider section of the wall to get the required overlap of the repair pieces. I want to avoid that if possible. It would be a mess, too, as there is lots of loose-fill cellulose above.

What should I do?

Option 1.) Replace the bottom plate, the leftmost stud and add some sister studs to the other areas. Add a 2x4 under the top plate and the adjacent studs, shoring up strength in this area.

Option 2.) like option 1, but additionally fur out the wall by 1.5 inches by using 2x4s horizontally/flat. I would lose some space towards the interior but I could then secure a new header to the side of the top plate, thus securing it against drifting apart (if it were to do that).

"Very well-maintained home" - That was the realtor's description when I bought this house nine years ago. "Termite damage most likely just cosmetic" - that's what my home inspector said.
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Unread 09-05-2021, 11:24 AM   #2
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My recommendation? First, take off your engineer's hat and put on your homeowner's hat, Wolfgang.

I honestly can't see the framing members well enough in your photo to make a reasonably informed guess at the amount of damage, but from your description I wonder if you actually have a structural issue.

I can't tell just what you've got on the right side of the center exposed king and jack studs there. Appears to be something scabbed onto the upper half of the king stud and then appears to be the ends of two other 2x12s? Doesn't compute for me.

If you're concerned with the support of the header, you could quite easily add another jack stud or two. The header itself is far larger than necessary for your span, which was common for the construction era. Back when lumber was cheap, it was common for us to use 2x12s for all headers just to eliminate the need for any studding above the headers. Sixteen-foot garage door opening? Double 2x12 header. Three-foot window opening? Double 2x12 header.

If I could see the rest of your damage better, I'm guessing I'd still recommend stabilizing the damaged areas with something like Abatron's LiquidWood. And in areas where only compressive strength is required of a filler, their WoodEpox. Good restoration pookies, those, and available separately or in kits in various sizes. Stores well and I keep some on hand alla time.

If the termites are gone and the damage is not sufficient to cause any other damage, I'd be inclined not to start removing structural framing, but I'm not there to evaluate the situation and you are familiar with my warranty information, eh?
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Unread 09-05-2021, 05:20 PM   #3
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CX, the tip with the wood hardener is excellent. I think that might be exactly the thing that will do the job on my top plate.
The two scabbed on 2 x 12 pieces hold up a slight roof extension above my front door. On the other end, outside, there is a metal pole supporting this.

The bottom plate is partially hollowed out by termites. I will replace it with a vapor barrier and some pt lumber. The rest I will sister some additional studs to the existing ones and possibly adding one under the scabbed on 2 x 12s, currently just nailed to the side of a stud, as far as I can tell. Plus, the epoxy for the top plate repair.

I will insulate this really well (sealant around perimeter of pockets to minimize air leakage, then rockwool. I am also looking to add a 1 in continuous sheet of polyiso foam on the inside. All that framing wood is a poor insulator, obviously. This has been a terribly cold wall during winter months.

CX, I assume that the liquid wood will need to be injected into the top plate with some sort of syringe. I can do that. Have you used the product before? Does dry wood readily absorb it? Or is this going to be a mess?

Thanks again for the tip.

PS. Yes, termites have been gone for a decade. And no structural issue that would be imminent to my untrained eye.
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Unread 09-05-2021, 07:49 PM   #4
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I've used that product many, many times over the past 30 years or so, Wolfgang, for all manner of wood repairs. They don't give it away, but I find it worth price charged.

Yes, the dry wood will absorb the liquid part quite readily. Hasta be really dry, though, but I expect what I see in your photos to be a good candidate. The wood becomes more like a plastic when it dries. The "dough" part adheres quite well to the liquid part. When able, I actually try to pack some of the dough in before the liquid is fully cured. Takes a couple tries to get a feel for it all.

When I can't pour and brush the liquid on, I use some disposable syringes to inject it into the cavities. Not my good surgical ones, some cheap plastic ones that are disposable. The fact that the wood absorbs the liquid quite readily does not mean it won't be messy. Don't try to be neat, just get it in there as best you can. Even when injecting I like to have a couple little acid brushes to help push the stuff where I want it to go. The kind with the cheap metal tubular handles.

Mixing the dough is quite simple, too. Just scoop out a dollop of equal size from each container and fold and mix with your hands to a consistent color. Then stuff it wherever you want it to be. Easily cut and sanded after the fact if necessary. Is good pookey. For most of what I see in your photos I don't think I'd bother with the dough, just stabilize what's there with the liquid. I do recognize that you'll unregard that part of the advice, of course.

Disposable vinyl gloves are an absolute necessity.
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Unread 09-06-2021, 06:13 PM   #5
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Just ordered two quarts of the Liquid Wood and 12 oz of the WoodEpox (aka pookie). Came in at about $100 on Amazon. Not bad at all if it does the trick.
I will try to complete the job in the next two weeks and will report back.
As a Spectralockian, I am not unfamiliar with this sort of mixing and hardening regimen. Should be fun! Thanks, CX!
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Unread 09-06-2021, 07:51 PM   #6
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One thing you wanna pay attention to, and I believe it's in the instructions for the liquid part, Woolfgang, is the caution to let the mixed material sit for a short time specific before applying if it's important that the cured surface not be tacky. Most of the time I care not at all, and in your application I don't see a need to care, but it really does make a difference. If you should need to remove any sticky surface, I find MEK works well. Abatron sells a specific reducer/solvent, but I generally just use MEK on accounta I have some at hand.

Don't wear your impress-the-client clothes where the liquid might get on it.
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Unread 09-06-2021, 08:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfgang
aka pookie
you mean pooky. Pookie was Chris Rock character in new Jack City. Hahahahahaha

This is a interesting thread I like it
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Unread 09-16-2021, 07:09 AM   #8
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Got the pooky, but the Liquid Wood is held hostage by my local post office.
I started to replace the bottom plate. I put in sill foam and some Kerdi band at the bottom (which I had left) to deflect possible moisture away from the bottom plate which is also PT lumber. There used to be a raised flower bed attached to this exterior wall. Years of moisture exposure caused the termites to move in. The bed is now filled with pebbles and dry,but as you can see, the bottom plate needed to be replaced. I am using polyurethane sealant to seal seams in the sheathing and around the bottom plate for airtightness. I also put some 1/2 concrete anchors in. Now waiting for the Liquid Wood to show up. Ultimately I will do another 1/2 foam plate spray foamed against the sheathing, then rockwool and then another 3/4 in polyiso foam sheet on the inside for thermal detachment. This is particularly important in places like above the window, where no other insulation exists due to the solid wood header.
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Unread 09-16-2021, 08:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
Back when lumber was cheap, it was common for us to use 2x12s for all headers just to eliminate the need for any studding above the headers. Sixteen-foot garage door opening? Double 2x12 header. Three-foot window opening? Double 2x12 header.
A little off topic, but I used 2x12's on all the headers because we always banded the block to pour the slab, and when it was dry enough to pull the bands, we had +/- 200' of 2x12's that weren't going to be used for anything else.
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Unread 09-19-2021, 10:36 AM   #10
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I opened up more of that wall to find more termite mess. Thankfully, of the two jack studs on the other side of the window, one was completely unharmed. The other one was chewed up so badly that it had no support left at all. If both had been attacked, the two 2x12 above the window would have had no support and could have sagged. Sheer luck!

I decided to completely remove the eaten-up jack stud, together with the bottom plate and replace it. Picture just shows removal. Man, what a mess.
Now, approx. eight more feet of that wall to open up and to investigate for termite damage.
The home inspector who I hired at the time downplayed the termite damage as “most likely just cosmetic”.
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Unread 09-20-2021, 10:24 PM   #11
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Repaired the recent wall section and flashed the cavity with 1/2 in polyiso for an airtight seal. That alone gives more comfort than the leaky batt insulation that was in there. I cannot wait for the rockwool to fill out the rest of the cavity. It will be cozy this winter (and cool next summer). Still more to go.
The Liquid Wood has been at my local post office’s depot for more than a week now without movement. Amazon refunded the money, but with each day that passes I am less hopeful it will arrive. I might have to reorder. Sigh!
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Unread 09-21-2021, 07:26 AM   #12
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Mmmm. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.........
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Unread 10-03-2021, 05:40 PM   #13
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I finished the framing work and the Liquid Wood treatment. I also decided to order myself one of them fancy triple pane R5 windows to replace that 3x5 window. That bow window will have to wait until next year.

The Liquid Wood worked well, although I am not sure how deeply it will actually penetrate. I kept brushing the stuff on for 45 minutes, basically until it became gooey. In that location, syringes were a no-go. Too messy. I only had a small container of the pooky, so pressed it in the hollowed-out spaces of the top plate. Seems to work well. Best thing is that the musty termite smell is gone.
Next is electrical and then the mineral wool. Airtight as it is with those foam boards, it’s already pretty comfy.

Seems like my images are upside down when posting from my mobile device.
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