wet-rot

What Is Dry Rot?

What Is Dry Rot?
If you ask most people what rot is, chances are they’ll conjure up a vision of wood left exposed to damp. So if it’s not old window frames trying, and increasingly failing, to fend off the elements, then it’s beams exposed to a leaky roof, or flooring and plasterwork lying prone near dodgy pipework.
Rot is caused by damp, so it follows that rot is wet – ergo there’s a thing called wet rot. But there’s also dry rot as well.
What’s the difference? Both have the same root cause: fungi, which breed and attack wood that’s exposed to damp. Timber with 20 percent moisture content or higher is most prone.
Wet rot is the more common type but is less serious and usually confined to timber that stays…wet. Door and window frames commonly fall prey.  Both wet and dry rot starts in the same way: when fungi produce millions of microscopic spores into the air.  If they fall on untreated damp wood they will germinate, via tubes known as hypha. These then spread to form a mass of threads called mycelium.  The mycelium eats into the wood, spreading through it using the hyphal threads which supply water and nutrients.
The difference between wet and dry rot centres on the type of fungi that infects the wood. There are several common types, but the one that causes dry rot is known as Serpula lacrymans.
And make no mistake: this is, as far as a property’s structural integrity is concerned, the enemy. It can destroy wood and, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc.  Moreover, unlike other fungi, it can spread from infected timber onto the surface of nearby stone or brick walls.  The hyphal threads penetrate mortar and plaster, meaning that large areas of the wall can become infected. The problem is compounded, well and truly.
How to spot dry rot? Its appearance might be given away by the affected timber appearing darker and also cracking. Wet rots, by contrast, tend to produce a bleaching effect.
Knowing how to tell dry and wet rot apart is hugely important, because each requires a different form of treatment. This is precisely where you need an experienced, professional service, such as that offered by Danford Brewer & Ives.
A detailed inspection should be carried out by a specialist, who will then submit a report detailing both the cause of the rot and the proposed action.
As a rule of thumb, the following areas will be investigated:
• The roof: are there blocked gutters, for example, or missing/broken/displaced tiles/slates?
• The walls: has the mortar/plaster deteriorated; is there faulty/missing damp proof course, blocked air bricks, cracked or broken pipes, or perhaps an overflow from the cistern/water tank?
• Internally: is there excessive condensation in, say, the bathroom and kitchen; moisture close to external faults, solid floors, trapped flood water, or defective plumbing?
Keeping on top of rot can prove difficult; even being aware of it is not easy. That said, a little time and effort in this regard can go an awfully long way.
Fortunately, though, strides are always being made in terms of greater understanding, improved solutions and best practice, meaning that not only is help readily at hand, but that it draws from a greater depth of knowledge. The upshot, therefore, is a better chance to combat and resolve the problem.
Danford Brewer & Ives have a team of experts who can produce reports and quotations for any necessary specialist dry rot work. Moreover, we keep abreast of all the latest innovations, methods and technologies.
If you would like more information on and detail about dry rot - or any of the other building services we offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re more than happy to help.


Wet rot treatment

Wet rot treatment & why a timber survey is needed

If there’s ever a time to treat damp and wood rot, it’s springtime. But, then, if there’s ever a time for rot to sink its clutches into your property, it’s during winter.

After all, your property has born the brunt of the elements. But at what cost? The snow, wind, and rain might have gone but all can leave behind moisture, which finds its way in through various nooks and crannies.

Timber is where damp takes hold, and if it’s left untreated then rot can develop.

There are two types - dry and wet rot – and it’s the latter we shall focus on here…
…which is good news, in a sense. Why? Because wet rot is not as pervasive as dry rot. It tends not to spread as far, and its consequences tend to be less damaging. The latter can eat its way through a property, affecting wood as well as plaster and brickwork. In terms of structural integrity, it has the potential to be catastrophic.

Wet rot tends only to cause damage in areas that are – and remain – wet.

Poor ventilation below floors may be a cause of wet rot, as might rising or penetrating damp, water leaks and the like.
It’s caused by fungi which multiply in the right conditions and attack wood. Roughly speaking, timber with 20 per cent moisture content or higher is susceptible.

The process starts when the fungi breed by showering millions of microscopic spores into the air.

If they fall on untreated wood they will germinate – via tubes called hypha which spread to form threads called mycelium.
The mycelium eats at the wood and uses the threads (which supply water and nutrients) to propagate.

Again, however, when comparing how dry rot and wet rot can take hold, the latter is not quite so malignant. It will not, for example, spread onto the surface of adjacent stone or brick walls.

That’s because there is fewer mycelium – meaning that wet rot is typically confined to the area of dampness.
Even so, timber exposed to the damp will still lose its structural integrity if left untreated.

Tell-tale signs of wet rot might include a whitening, or bleaching, effect - which does not refer to the colour of the mould, but the shade that the timber turns when affected.

By contrast, brown rot will darken the wood, which will disintegrate in small cracks.
While different strains of fungi have different features, broadly speaking they are all similar in appearance and the treatments are also similar.
Regarding identification and treatment, it’s crucial that the type of wood rot – whether it’s dry or wet, in other words - is identified before any course of action is considered. Each requires a different form of treatment.

A detailed inspection should be carried out by a specialist, who will then submit a report detailing both the cause of the decay and the proposed action.

As a rule of thumb, the following (and most likely more besides) will be investigated:

  • The Roof. Are the gutters blocked? Perhaps tiles are missing, broken or displaced?
  • The Walls. Has the mortar deteriorated? Is the damp-proof course either faulty or missing? Are the air bricks blocked? Maybe pipes are cracked or broken, or a water tank is overflowing?
  • Perhaps there is condensation in, say, the bathroom and kitchen? Or maybe there’s moisture close to external gaps or cracks, floors, trapped floodwater, or defective plumbing?

Keeping on top of – or even being aware of – rot can be difficult, but innovations are constantly being made so better help and advice are readily at hand.
If there is doubt, a timber survey is probably your best bet to identify both the cause and remedy, which may include specialist treatment.
Danford Brewer & Ives have a team of expert surveyors who can produce reports and quotations for any necessary specialist works. Moreover, we keep abreast of all the latest innovations, methods and technologies.
If you would like more information on and detail about wet rot - or any of the other building services we offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re more than happy to help.