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Dry Rot - what you need to know

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

Dry Rot - what you need to know

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. 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 realise 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.

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.

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!

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.

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 specalists.

Updated August 2020

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