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    Dry Rot: Identification and Solutions

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 3rd Jul, 2024

    Reviewed by Emily Smith

    The words 'dry rot' will send shivers down the spine of every homeowner, and rightly so.

    Dry Rot: Identification and Solutions

    Destructive, deviant and with more survival skills than Bear Grylls, it’s no wonder that dry rot is one the nation’s most expensive preventable issues.

    What causes dry rot?

    Dry rot spores are omnipresent, meaning they surround us every day, everywhere, unseen to the human eye.

    The trouble arises when these spores come into contact with wet timber; the spores will then germinate, producing a white cotton wool-like fungus, known as Mycelium.

    Mycelium has the ability to spread extensively across numerous building materials in search for a new source of food, so you may find that the rot has spread further than you actually think.

    How to spot dry rot

    What makes the identification of dry rot problematic for homeowners is that dry rot infestation often progresses in non-visible areas of your property such as your stairs, loft, attic, and flooring.

    Dry rot lifecycle

    The dry rot lifecycle consists of four main stages, each with their own distinctive indications of a dry rot issue.
    Fortunately, for homeowners, there are several tell-tale signs that can help you identify a dry rot infestation.
    • White or grey cotton-wool like substance (Mycelium Growth)
    • Fruiting body (Sporophore)
    • Shrinkage and warping of timber caused by the removal of moisture from the wood
    • Cross grain cuboidal cracking
    • Damp fungal smell
    • Red rust coloured spore dust typically found in the region of fruiting bodies

    How to stop dry rot

    Like any living species, dry rot needs three elements to survive: a source of oxygen, food, and water.

    As timber accounts for anywhere up to 70% of the fabric of a house, dry rot will certainly find a way to reach it.
    To eradicate dry rot we can do two things: we can’t extract the air around us so we’re left with stopping the source of moisture and its food source.

    Stopping the source of moisture

    The source of moisture will most likely be the result of a leaking pipe or an external defect such as faulty rainwater goods or roof tiles.

    Nevertheless, dry rot can also progress into properties through means of rising damp or even condensation. Take away the source of moisture and you’re halfway to rectifying the problem.

    Remove and treat infected timbers

    Once the source of moisture has stopped, it’s time to remove and sanitise the infected timbers. When dealing with such an issue it is always best to seek specialist advice.

    The extent of how much timber will need to be removed is relative to how far the dry rot has spread. We know that dry rot can often spread to those hard-to-reach areas, so the quicker you react to the issue, the less damage there will be and the less the treatment will cost.

    Damp and timber reports

    Before purchasing a property, you may be asked to provide a damp and timber report. This report will outline any dry rot related issues evident within the property as well as a note on asbestos, woodworm infestation, and air quality.

    Knowing and understanding the causes and signs of such issues is imperative in keeping your property safe; regular property maintenance will allow you to identify problems at their earliest stage, so you can resolve the matter before it turns into a costly affair.

    This article was brought to you by Timberwise, Mycelium and dry rot infestation specialists.

    Identifying and dealing with dry rot FAQs

    Will dry rot come back?

    Yes, even after successful treatment of dry rot it could return if the damp conditions continue to provide the environment for dry rot to form and spread.

    Is dry rot covered by insurance?

    Usually, dry rot will be excluded from home insurance policies. In some cases, if the dry rot is as a result of a specific incident your insurance company may cover it as part of the treatment of the incident.  

    Is it safe to live in a house with dry rot?

    Although dry rot fungus itself is not harmful to humans, severe cases of dry rot can be dangerous due to weakening or even destroying wooden structures in the property.

    Additionally, dry rot indicates an issue with damp in the house which can lead to mould that will cause health problems such as respiratory issues

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