If there’s one thing that a homeowner doesn’t want to hear, it’s the words, ‘your property has dry-rot’. This is a very destructive condition that can have a serious impact on a property and is far more problematic than the worse sounding wet rot. But what is dry rot and what treatment is required to eradicate it?
What is dry rot?
Dry-rot is a term used for a specific type of wood rot caused by a fungus known as Serpula lacrymans. It digests the wood in ways that weaken it and ruin its integrity, leaving it looking brown and being brittle to the touch.
The fungus is a serious problem in properties of all types and ages around the UK because it destroys the timber frames of the buildings that it infests. This can lead to the entire property becoming unsafe so it is important to watch for signs of the fungus and get an expert to look at the problem as quickly as possible.
Signs of dry rot
- Damp and mushroom smells
- Rust red spores are seen on surfaces around the fruiting bodies
- Springing wooden floors
- Joinery that cracks and shrinks
- A mushroom type fungus that has a grey skin with yellow and lilac tinges that appears on wood.
- White, fluffy growths under voids, called mycelium which has teardrops in the growth Strands develop from this mycelium that is brittle and crack when bent
The spores themselves are quite harmless to our health, although they can cause allergic reactions for some people. However, when they touch damp wood, they germinate and the process of dry rot rapidly begins.
Treatment of dry rot
Dry rot can only occur if there is a certain level of moisture within the property, normally more than 20%, so the first step to eradicating the fungus is to deal with the high moisture levels affecting the property. Water leaks are the most common reason that moisture levels are higher than average, although other types of damp such as rising or penetrating damp can increase moisture levels and create the ideal conditions that allow the fungus to grow.
Once the cause of the elevated moisture levels has been identified and repaired, the drying process and restoration work can begin. This will involve lifting floors and removing wall plaster to expose the extent of the attack. Affected timbers will be removed and carefully disposed of to prevent further spread.
Repairing the damage
Once moisture levels are under control and the fungus is removed then repairs can be made. This will involve replacing timbers that have been damaged, using new pre-treated timber and ensuring that the initial cause of the damp cannot reoccur. This might involve improving air flow to the floor space, repairing the damage that allows penetrating damp or dealing with the damp proof course if rising damp was the source of the problem.
Once the condition has been repaired by a company such as Tapco HomeDry, homeowners don’t usually experience any reoccurrence but if there are any further signs of dampness don’t ignore them and call a damp expert without delay.