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Dry Rot - Identifying and Treating

Even the name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any home-owner. The expectation is that it will mean thousands of pounds worth of treatment to get rid of and that it could mean an infestation of huge parts of the house. If it comes up on a survey it will often mean that your home will fail to sell. So learning how to identify dry rot and especially the early signs is something worth knowing,. The earlier you catch it the sooner you can start to treat the problem and prevent it returning.

What is dry rot?

Despite its name, dry rot commonly occurs in wet wood which has been in contact with the ground or masonry which has become damp. It grows as a type of fungus which becomes worse as the damp begins to dry. If the timber is in damp and warm conditions, then the fungus will grow more rapidly. The fungus will soak up the moisture, drying up the timber and causing it to become brittle. In addition to all this the dry rot can spread within masonry and along timbers with strands which reach out looking for moisture to feed on.

What does it look like?

dry rot dry rot

The timber will take on a dull brown look with deep cracks and fissures. As it begins to dry out it will start to crumble and will affect the whole of the surface and beneath. The fungus itself can be identified by its pancake-like look and soft texture. It is yellowish at the start and develops into a deep red as it matures.

What to do?

The first thing to do is to get a professional in to see how extensive the dry rot problem has become. This will involve lifting floor boards and more. Even the smallest amount of dry rot can cause the outbreak to continue, so it must all be removed. The following steps will then be carried out by the professionals, although you could do the work yourself with the right advice:

  • The property needs to be dried out
  • All of the infected wood needs to be removed, plus a large margin
  • A preservative can be used on areas which cannot be removed such as around masonry.
  • All rotten wood needs to be replaced with treated timber and coated in preservative. Remaining wood needs to be treated with preservative.
  • Add in ventilation wherever possible to prevent the problem recurring
  • Carefully dispose of the fungus infected wood to prevent it spreading to other areas.

Images courtesy http://www.buildingpreservation.com