Chemical delignification is a technical description for a problem commonly referred to as hairy timber. It is a serious and costly issue for homeowners. It can also signify issues with air quality in the surrounding area.
What is chemical delignification?
Lignin is a natural glue within timber that binds its cells together. When the lignin is destroyed this is known as chemical delignification. If this happens the timber will gradually weaken and eventually collapse. The issue is common in the roof loft space. The roof battens can be damaged which may cause tiled roofs to collapse over time. If you encounter chemical delignification in your loft space, please be aware that it is very dangerous to walk on the roof exterior.
Is it classed as a defect?
Chemical delignification is classed as a major defect. The cost of repair could be significant and if this defect is detected during a pre-purchase building inspection, the repair costs should be factored into the purchase price.
What are the causes of chemical delignification?
This type of timber deterioration is caused by some form of airborne attack on the timber. It’s often associated with softwood such as Oregon but we have also seen it in more durable timbers like Jarrah.
Properties that are close to the ocean are susceptible, as salt air can attack the timber. Homes in high pollution zones or on main roads may come into contact with the airborne pollutants that cause chemical delignification. If pollution is found to be the cause, then it may be worth investigating the air quality within the home, in order to ascertain if there are potential health risks to occupants.
Is it preventable?
Timber that is sealed, painted or well-oiled will be protected from airborne chemicals. If your property is in a high-risk area, add this to your maintenance regime.
If you are thinking of purchasing a property, call us to organise a pre-purchase building and pest inspection on 0439 282 236.