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Remove Cedar Shakes?

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We just bought a house and most things are in great shape. However, the inspector noted that there is some rot on the floor sills in the garage, that the yard is sloped towards the garage, and that the soil is touching the cedar siding. I want to regrade the yard so that it slopes away from the garage, however the soil is already touching the siding.

On my house, the cedar shakes end about 1.5 feet above the ground and it's just foundation down into the ground. Can I just remove the bottom row of cedar shakes from my garage to get at the foundation? Can you just pop them off with a hammer or do you need to cut them?

Is there a better way of handling this than removing siding?

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Good question....The 2009 IRC section 319 states that woods not resistant to decay must be 6 inch clearance from the ground. Cedar is one type of wood resistant to decay.... therfore nothing needs to be done, but common sense prevails here and shake siding will rot over time. I would remove to the 6 inches above finished grade. To remove, I would score with a sharp carpet knife or utility knife after snapping a line for correct height

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I've read online that soil-to-wood siding contact also invites termites, which I'd like to avoid.

I'll probably need to peak behind the cedar siding to see what is behind it. I would hope that it's the foundation but since they've nailed siding to the side, maybe it's wood!

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Your not going to find any type of foundation under the siding.

I know that because you said the sill plate is rotted.

You can remove the bottom coarse like was suggested with a utility blade and snapping it off clean. That'll give you the kick out too. Under the siding you'll find sheathing. Coarse that'll need to be covered back up. Dig along the slab about 8" deep. Slide (aluminum, steel, galvanized) flashing behind the cedar siding, fasten and then backfill.

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My wife dug down along the garage last night. There is a concrete foundation! The soil was about 2" over the siding. The siding that was below the soil line was mushy and pushed inwards (towards the garage).

I think that I'm going to follow your suggestions by scoring and cutting off the bottom layer of cedar shingles. Then I'll install a flashing to help divert the water.

I'm guessing that there is a crack in the foundation somewhere that is letting the water in to rot the sill plate.

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