How long does it take for joists to rot ?

11 Oct 2016
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United Kingdom
ive had a leaky kitchen sink waste pipe for years, it’s sopping wet and stinks,only just found the source of the smell I noticed maybe 2 years ago.

What should I do just try to dry it out ?
Or do I need to lift the tiles and laminate floor to see if there’s any rot ?
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From bitter experience at two premises (if you cannot get under the floor) I would say "YES".

By the time that you "noticed" the smell the rot was well under way.

If it is bearers and joists which are affected, there may have been only a small percentage of the wood which has rotted as yet and, if so, it could be allowed to dry out without much affecting the structural integrity of the building.
However, if a significant proportion of the timber has so rotted that it easily can be scraped away, you have a significant problem.
The trick with testing joists is how far can you push a screwdriver into it by hand.

The smell may just be the waste water going stagnant over a long period but you'll need to access and inspect the area to be sure.
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As madrab said try a screwdriver......i had a cellar joist with woodworm and pushed one straight through
Thanks I’ll see if I can get access somehow.
you may get access through the bottom of the kitchen cupboard - cut it out and re instate or fit new one - then work on cutting the floor out under the unit - all out of sight ;)
Those endoscope cameras are cheap enough now and give a decent image.

Maybe drill a hole and have a look?.

Lifting floor under the cabinet is the best idea as said above, easily hidden afterwards.
As madrab said try a screwdriver......i had a cellar joist with woodworm and pushed one straight through

This is how my DIY life started - 2017, investigating why floorboard was bouncy in a musty smelling room:


how long is a piece of string, withe the right amount of dampness and the right temperature stuff can rot quite quickly, and if it is too wet then it may not rot at all. Also depends on the wood, if it is an old old house the type of wood they used 100 years ago seems to be quite resistant to rot, much less so with the type of timber we use now, and if it is a super modern house with these strange reconstituted wood I-beam joists, then I wouldn't be surprised if the entire house was about to collapse.

You really need to have a look at what is happening.
as above.
if there's space, get under the floor and crawl around to check for any obvious damage - take pics of anything suspicious below or above the FFL.
access traps are often below the stairs.

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