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I was moving a bolt storage rack in the basement, and when I took it off the wall, I noticed that the wall behind it was moldy. Then I noticed a ripple in the paint going all the way up, and when I followed it with my hand, the paint cracked off in a relatively well defined vertical path. I knew at that point the wall needed to be removed.

As I did that, I found very soft drywall, and the insulation behind it was blackened.

I removed it all, and I found some wood had been eaten. Then, I realized that a LOT of wood had been eaten. I'm not sure what I have here and how to proceed.

The paint cracking up

The paint cracking up

The paint cracking up

The paint cracking up

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What's on the other side of that plywood? Are you below grade there? Is the wood in contact with concrete treated? –  dbracey Mar 26 '12 at 20:23
    
If there is dirt on the other side of that panel, I'll cry... –  dbracey Mar 26 '12 at 20:29
    
On the other side of the plywood is siding. It's pretty much at grade there, and there's a little storage area on the other side of it under the porch. The wood touching the concrete does not appear to be treated. To clarify where we're at, 2 more photos: i.imgur.com/nL25K.jpg i.imgur.com/Hv2nO.jpg –  kavisiegel Mar 26 '12 at 20:31
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Seeing that you are from Mass, I suspect carpenter ants, but termites are possible. Is this small 2 foot area the only one effected? If so, the replacemnt of the sill and couple of short kneewall studs is simple. Don't worry about loads, cut out the bad stuff, put in a new sill and cut your studs 1/16" long and pound them into place and nail or screw them in. –  shirlock homes Mar 26 '12 at 22:14
    
BTW, use PT BMitch suggested. Spray around the foundation with Sevin, works good for ants, or sign up for seasonal treatments. –  shirlock homes Mar 26 '12 at 22:17
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The last couple pictures appear to be wood boring insect damage (termites or carpenter ants). I'd spray the area with pesticide, setup bait traps in a perimeter around the home, and in this location, sister or replace the stud with a pressure treated 2x4.

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The horizontal beam at the bottom is also eaten up, how would I go about replacing that? I don't see any bugs in there now, is it safe to say I shouldn't worry about an infestation? There were also spiders in the wall so I'm kinda worried that the spider's feasting on ants.. –  kavisiegel Mar 26 '12 at 20:21
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@kavisiegel Spiders (and termites for that matter) indicate a moisture issue. All the more reason to replace what you can with PT lumber, including the bottom plate. To replace the bottom plate, if this is load bearing, you may need to build a temporary structure to carry the load. But I'd also try to locate any source of water entering the structure and seal it out. –  BMitch Mar 26 '12 at 20:30
    
For any repair or treatment to be successful you have to fiqure out why they picked that spot and correct it. Was there water infiltration? –  mikes Mar 26 '12 at 20:34
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@kavisiegel BTW, with PT wood, you want hot dipped galvanized nails. Other nails will react with the PT chemicals and corrode. –  BMitch Mar 27 '12 at 3:53
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@kavisiegel Given that it's an exterior wall, and especially with the triple studs, it's going to be load bearing. Fixing this won't be easy from what you've described, so I'd recommend calling in the insurance company and some pros to get it done right and safely. –  BMitch Mar 27 '12 at 17:43
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The first thing to take care of is the bug problem. It good that you don't see any in that location, but that doesn't mean they haven't moved on somewhere else in your home. I would go for a pest control professional. We have termite issues in our neighborhood. Because of that we have a service to be proactive about it. Basically in spring and fall they come out and inspect the house and lay a chemical shield around the perimeter as a message to the bugs to go chew and eat somewhere else. I've also taken steps to allievate and moisture problems around the perimeter as well as bugs like the dampness.

If the framing is rotten, it probably best to replace it. I had a simliar issue where they had dined previously. I ended up reframing everything. The important thing to note is if the wall is load bearing or not. If so, a temporary support system (such as using jacks) will need to be in place before the lasting solution built. If it is not load bearing, you can just rip it out and put in a new frame. If the bugs have eaten the wood its strength and integrity have been compromised.

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Yep, I'm sure this wall is load bearing. I'll probably set up one jack in the middle when I replace it. How did you pinpoint your moisture problem? I can't figure out where the waters coming from for the life of me. I was convinced it was from a toilet leak, but I fixed that 4 years ago and the thing on the wall that I was moving was put up 2 years ago. –  kavisiegel Mar 27 '12 at 16:34
    
I re-landscaped several areas around the house. Where we had the most problems I put stones in and removed the mulch. The area we had issues with was a screened in sunroom. So, when it rained, a lot of water ended up inside since only screens for windows. I ended up turning it into a 3 season room with windows, siding etc. so no more water inside. The proactive pest control has also prevented issues as well. We live in very sandy soil, so I guess that makes it easier for termite movement (at least that is what the bug guy) says. –  Jon Raynor Mar 27 '12 at 16:44
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