Why Do Abandoned Buildings Decay?

abandoned home in mountains

Abandoned buildings decay at different rates for a number of different reasons. Buildings fall apart at different rates depending on what environment they’re exposed to. In this article we’ll explore why abandoned buildings decay, and what causes them to rot.

Abandoned buildings decay due to damage caused by the environment over time. This can include unrepaired weather damaged, water damage, vandalism, and wildlife. 

Not all environments damage buildings equally. Areas such as the rust belt are considerably more harsh than say the arid climate of Arizona or Nevada. But why is this?

When a building is abandoned no one is there to take care of it. I know that sounds obvious but even the smallest of damages like a cracked window can have a huge impact down the road.

A tiny cracked window eventually expands with time. As moisture enters the cracks and freezes during the winter this continual thawing and freezing speeds up the damage and eventually will shatter the window.

Buildings Decay & Weather

abandoned car in garage

This thawing and freezing cycle also wears away at brick, wood and other structural material at a much higher rate causing the building decay faster than say one in a dryer climate.

With the window broken water begins to pool inside, rotting the floor and whatever is beneath it.
Birds begin to take notice of the free space and make the building their new home.

The birds make the inside their new home. Their poop containing tree seeds lands on the rotting wood near the window. Combine this with soil blown in and you have the recipe for a living room tree.

Fast forward 5 years and you start to have a small tree sprouting from the building. The tree expands, the foundation cracks and termites find their way inside.

As you can see, it doesn’t take long for something so small to spiral out of control.

Human Interference

abandoned factory broken windows

Even when a place is abandoned humans play a large role in how quickly a building starts to degrade. Even when a building is properly boarded and sealed up to protect it, people can come a long and crack it wide open.

Scrappers and taggers are usually the first on the scene, prying off boards, opening up windows, and making an entrance for anyone or anything else behind them.

Without anyone to reseal the doors, windows, and make repairs the buildings falls into a state of disrepair. This effect can snowball quickly, especially if the surrounding area is also in rough shape. There comes a point where no one wants to spend the time or money to rehab the property, and it’s left to decay.



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