What dry rot is – and how to treat it

Dry rot is a brown fungus which can extensively damage the wood which forms a part of a building. You can usually see it because of distorted joinery timbers, cracks or even collapsed timbers.

Look out for a discernible mushroom-like scent, splitting or crumbling wood and a matted white growth with yellow and maybe lilac tinges. Sometimes dry rot can also be seen as a growth that looks like a pancake, and with a russet-coloured middle. This is most likely when the fungus has really taken grip.

Sometimes, past damage caused by dry rot can be discovered when alteration work is done.

Dry rot is distributed when airborne spores land on a suitably moist setting, preferably one which also has poor ventilation and lighting. It can grow on any kind of wood, as well as materials such as cork, paper, hardboard and the like. But dry rot can even penetrate materials including plaster and brick.

In well-kept buildings where the wood’s moisture content is below 20%, risk is minimised.

The key thing to do with any outbreak of dry rot is to find the source of excessive moisture, eliminate it and let the wet areas dry thoroughly with good ventilation and the heating on a low setting. And it takes some patience – and time – to do this properly.

Then all the infected timber will also need to be removed – including an allowance area of around 60cm either side of the affected wood. Try not to disturb the russet-coloured spores when taking out timber.

So look for things like condensation, a damaged Damp Proof Coursing, leaking plumbing, pipework or guttering and bunged up air bricks, as well as roof tiles, cladding or flashing which may be missing.

Even afterwards, the risk of a return outbreak remains.

So other measures are needed to reduce this risk. For example, a range of fungicidal products for masonry and timber can be found on the market.

However, really dealing effectively with dry rot is one of those occasions when you need to call in the professionals. Talk to us today about how we can help.

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