Ground Contact, Schmound Contact

Ground Contact, Schmound Contact

The other day I was doing a couple little odds and ends around my mom’s house. One of the things I had to do was fix her little pergola. One of the posts had sunk and the pergola was becoming a sorry looking affair. I figured the bottom of the post was rotting a bit so armed with a shovel and new 4X4 post started out to replace it.

When I dug out the old post I was shocked to find that the post had completely rotted from grade level to the bottom 6 inches of post. No wonder the pergola was a bit saggy. I was able to find the bottom of the post and it even had the manufacturer label still stapled to the Rotten Post Tagbottom.  Sure enough it was pressure treated and rated for ground contact.

My mom’s saggy pergola posed no real hazard and was easily fixed, but it got me to thinking. (here comes trouble…) I have seen countless decks, porches and fences with the bottom of their pressure treated posts buried below grade. If some of those posts are down there quietly rotting that can really be a safety issue and can become a difficult and expensive repair. Luckily, I have always resisted this approach and set the top of my concrete piers an inch or so above grade. Thank goodness for my firm belief in murphy’s law.

Chances are that this post was one in a thousand that rotted. (the other three posts supporting the pergola were fine). I am guessing that it rotted due to some screw up in the pressure treating process or bugs or a combination of the two. I am glad I found it. I guarantee that I will keep taking the time to set the tops of my piers a bit above grade even if it is more work.