Damaged 3 x 12 Stair Tread - Poor Maintenance

What we're looking at here is a damaged 3 x 12 wood stair tread. It's loose, week and about to create an accident and should be repaired as soon as possible.

With that said, let's try to figure out what happened, because there's a good chance it had something to do with water that was absorbed into the stair stringer or tread or maybe even a combination of both.

It isn't uncommon for exterior wood stairways to get wet, but if they remain wet for long periods of time or are not maintained properly, you could end up replacing the entire stairway. Let's face it, wood absorbs water and if it absorbs enough water, will start to decompose.

It's part of the natural process of things and that's just the way it is. If you want to extend the life of a set of exterior wooden stairs, you will need to clean and paint them as often as needed. You've got to protect the wood from moisture and usually some type of sealant or exterior paint works best.

stair stinger and step damage from water

The first picture above is the second step or tread of the stairway and you can also see that the first or bottom step along with the stair stringer is damaged. There is even a lag screw or bolt missing from the metal stair tread bracket and it isn't hard to figure out that the crack in the stair stringer might have had something to do with it.

I would also like to point out that the stair stringer embedded in the concrete walkway isn't helping things either. Obviously, a sidewalk was poured around the stair stringer, after its original construction.

covered sprinkler pipe under damaged wood stairway

Last but not least, let's take a look at one of the possible culprits and it just so happens to be a capped sprinkler. If I was to guess, there's a good chance that at one time this sprinkler sprayed water regularly on the other side of the stairway, eventually damaging its wood parts.

It isn't uncommon to find things of this nature around properties that aren't maintained regularly or owned by people who have no idea exactly how much damage one sprinkler could do or even a small water leak, to a set of exterior wooden stairs.

I've also seen problems like these after a building was constructed, simply because the landscaper or in most cases their ill-informed employees had no idea about the water damage possibilities that can arise from a single sprinkler.