An extensive attack of Dry Rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans) affecting two of the three apartments in Wandsworth, London SW18, has now been completely eradicated by Tapco HomeDry, at great expense to the leaseholders. The cause of the attack was something that we come across often, a minor building defect that could have been repaired for a few hundred pounds, and avoided thousands of pounds of dry rot damage.
The attack was caused by a leaking flat bay roof, from the second floor flat, which was ignored, thus creating ideal conditions for dry rot to develop and spread through the property. Unfortunately it wasn’t until fruiting bodies (mushroom type fungi) started to grow from around the edge of the ceiling of the first floor flat, that anyone did anything about it, hence a major attack of true Dry Rot. The attack had destroyed the second floor structural flooring and joinery timbers but even more seriously, the main structural supporting timbers (bressumers) in the first floor flat were severely weakened and had to be expertly removed by our operatives and replaced with new reinforced steel beams (RSJ). The attack had also affected the timber lintels over the first floor windows, which were replaced by three reinforced concrete lintels. Three large sash window frames had to be replaced and the mycelium was rapidly spreading through masonry in search of other timber to attack and destroy.
To ensure the attack was completely eradicated we first had to structurally support the building before removing extensive areas of wall and ceiling plaster, including ornate cornices. We then cut out all affected timbers and the bressumers and thoroughly treated the masonry and remaining timbers with high performance fungicidal masonry and timber preservatives. Once the new steel bressumer had been installed and passed by the building inspector, we then replaced all the structural timbers using new pre-treated timbers, bolted onto existing sound timber, incorporating timber connectors. Following this we re-plastered the walls and ceiling ready for our contractors to fit new ornate cornices.
Dry Rot can be avoided by keeping a property well maintained and dry because wood rotting fungi can’t develop or survive if the moisture content is below 20%. Stopping rain and internal water leaks immediately you are aware of them is very important because prevention is far cheaper and less disruptive than cure.