What Exactly Is Wood Rot?
Wood rot happens when fungi proliferate and consume wood. While every fungus has its own unique effects, there are two main types of wood rot: dry rot and wet rot. Here, we’ll explore the differences between dry rot and wet rot.
If you’re asking yourself, ‘What is dry rot?’ look no further. Dry rot fungus is the most hazardous rot of the bunch. It is caused by a fungus called serpula lacrymans— a species that can grow in environments with only 20% moisture content. Because it doesn’t need much moisture to proliferate, it’s easy to miss in its early stages. It targets the components that give wood its robustness, so its long-term effects are irreversible. When dry rot strikes, it can strike hard, at it’s worst being known to spread across a building’s surfaces and penetrating every room. Left untreated dry rot can cause your beams can degrade, ultimately causing your entire building to collapse.
Wet rot is the most common form of fungal decay. There are several kinds of fungus behind it, but coniophora puteana (cellar fungus) is the most frequent offender. It thrives in untreated wood that has a moisture content of between 30 and 50%. It tends to be localised before it matures and it doesn’t grow into your masonry, so early manifestations are easy to treat. Once wet rot has passed its initial stage, though, it causes serious structural problems, so this isn’t a problem to tag onto the end of your to-do list. Left to thrive, fungi will attack your load-bearing structures, so they need an urgent approach. Address a wet rot infestation early and you will eradicate it without complications.
Detecting wood rot involves knowing what to look for and, importantly, what to smell for. If you’re not sure, call in the experts to help you detect a problem. An expert nose will track down wood rot long before it becomes visible, just from the smell.
How to Detect Dry Rot
‘What does dry rot look like?’ is a common question for property owners. Dry rot is often called ‘brown rot’ due to its dark, earthy hue.
What to look for: Initially, dry rot makes itself known through large splits in your wooden structures. It evolves into a subtle white pattern before blossoming. Once fully grown, dry rot has a soft, fleshy body with yellow, orange, and lilac elements. Its spores look like red dust. Initially, dry rot wood decays in concentrated patches, but it ultimately develops a large mushroom-like body. On walls and masonry, dry rot develops as a white, chalky texture that evolves into a more severe cuboidal effect. A late-stage infestation mars the texture of your paint, eventually causing your wall to crumble.
- A cubical fracture along the grain of your timber
- Wood shrinkage
- A musty scent that resembles soil
- Discolouration, darkening
- Cracking paint that crumbles under light pressure.
How to Detect Wet Rot
What to look for: You can spot wet rot early by its dark brown stain. You might also notice longitudinal cracks and a chalky surface. As the fungus germinates, it darkens and grows, ultimately giving your wood a crumbling texture. Paint can disguise wet rot, so pay attention to any cracks or caving in your coatings.
What to smell for: Wet rot gives off a damp, musty smell.
- Darkened wood with a spongy texture
- Cracks that crumble under light pressure
- White, cotton-textured layers that yellow in direct sunlight
- Shrunken timber
- A musty scent.
How To Treat Dry Rot
1) Remove the Affected Wood
2) Treat Your New Timber
3) Kill Existing Fungus
If your wood hasn’t lost its structure yet, a simple borate treatment might clear your infestation without requiring structural changes. Spraying it across your infected wood is an efficient early cure. Glycol is another low-toxin treatment that won’t damage your timber.
4) Fix Water Intrusion
A wood treatment can be a powerful fungicidal aide, but without a cure for your moisture intrusion, your effects won’t last. You’ll need to repair leaks and rising damp. That’s best handled by a professional who can also advise on any insulation and structural repairs that might be required.
How to Treat Wet Rot
1) Find and Eliminate the Cause
Wet rot is usually caused by roof defects, plumbing leakage, blocked gutters, and even failing insulation. A wood rot pro will also fix rising damp and condensation so that you never have to think of fungal infestations again.
2) Kill Existing Fungus
3) Remove and Replace Affected Timber
4) Isolate the Moisture Source
We’re Experts At Treating Dry Rot And Wet Rot
Wood rot is a demanding problem that requires a holistic solution. At Dower Datech, we use our specialist knowledge of damp and timber to treat wood rot from every angle. We address it right where it begins: the point of your water intrusion. Once we’ve eliminated the cause, we perform preventative treatments so that you can leave rot where it belongs: The past. Get your free quote today.