Dry Rot

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What is dry rot?

Dry rot is such a feared property problem because it is an aggressive form of fungal growth that can cause serious degradation to any wood or timber it comes into contact with. Given the serious nature of dry rot problems, we have prepared this simple guide to explain what dry rot is, understand what causes it, learn how to identify potential outbreaks, and help you act quickly to treat any problems.

Thankfully, dry rot does not need to be the “property killer” it is often portrayed to be. A dry rot treatment programme carried out by an experienced and qualified expert can eliminate the problem and the earlier you can identify dry rot the more simple and cost effective treatment becomes.

Following current Government guidance Peter Cox can still perform dry rot services in homes and commercial premises while taking all necessary precautions with regards to social distancing and use of protective equipment. To find out how we can help you today while remaining safe, you can book a survey by clicking the button below or give us a call on 0800 633 5712.

Dry rot explained

Dry Rot (known by the scientific name of Serpula lacrymans) is a wood destroying fungi that feeds off the cellulose in timber in order to grow and spread. This process leaves the timber in a dry and brittle state with noticable cracks running through it, making any affected surface in your home very vulnerable indeed.

Requiring fast specialist action to avoid extensive damage, dry rot differs from wet rot because although both need a source of moisture to germinate, dry rot is capable spreading far beyond this initial water source. In its search for timber to consume, dry rot spores are even capable of spreading through thick walls and over surfaces like steel or brick in order to attack another source of wood. Dry rot often leads to the appearance of a mushroom style body called a sporophore, and these give off millions of spores in the form of red dust.

What does dry rot look like

Identifying dry rot at an early stage is vital to minimising the amount of damage it can cause to your property and reducing the eventual repair bill. While our guide below will help you to understand and recognise what dry rot looks like, you should be aware that it is likely to be found in areas of the property where people do not often look such as under floorboards, behind plasterboard or up in attics.

One of the early signs of dry rot is a musty, unpleasant smell. If this sounds familiar, it might be worthwhile having a snoop around your home for any of the signs listed below:

  • Damaged Timber - Timber affected by dry rot will often darken in in colour and will become so dry and brittle it will break or crumble easily. Timber affected by dry rot will also have distinct “cuboidal cracking.”
  • Concentrated Spore Dust - Dry rot spores are very common and usually harmless. However, if dry rot spores start to appear in concentrated patches of rust coloured dust, this is a sure sign of an active dry rot problem.
  • Hyphae - Dry rot spores begin to produce hyphae when they come into contact with timber in damp and humid conditions. Hyphae are white/grey strands that look similar to spider silk.
  • Mycelium - Mycelium is a grey/white cotton-wool-like mass that dry rot produces when it spreads from timber it can no longer feed from. If you identify dry rot mycelium it is vital that your treat the problem there and then as it is likely to get a lot worse.
  • Mushroom Style Fruiting Bodies - The last stage in the dry rot lifecycle is the most visually striking - the fruiting body. These fleshy masses look like large rust-coloured mushrooms and they grow when dry rot needs to pump fresh spores into the air in an effort to find more timber.

To help you identify dry rot we have a dedicated page of dry rot images you may want to browse, while if you recognise any of the signs or symptoms either above or on the pictures page then we would recommend that you should consult our specialist team to determine if you require a course of dry rot treatment.

What causes dry rot

Dry rot is caused when humidity (between 18 - 30%) and poor ventilation combine to provide the perfect habitat for fungal growth. As such, dry rot can attack any type of property from the very old to the newly built if the following conditions are present:

  • Dry rot spores
  • Poor ventilation
  • Timber
  • Moisture
  • Oxygen

Dry rot spores are actually around us all the time and will be found in most houses without causing any problem. However, these spores can develop into a dry rot fungal growth if they settle in a location with a food source (wood) and sufficient moisture to allow them to develop and germinate.

Once a dry rot infestation has taken hold in your property then you will have to take action to remove it and ensure affected timbers are treated and replaced. Without an effective course of treatment, the dry rot will continue to spread and likely cause serious structural damage to your home.

Dry rot treatment

Using industry accredited training, years of on-the-job knowledge and specialist equipment, the experienced and qualified surveyors at Peter Cox can diagnose and treat any dry rot infestation - even when the rot is in concealed areas of a property.

After a thorough dry rot survey, when our expert surveyor is satisfied they have identified the presence of dry rot, then a bespoke dry rot treatment plan will be developed and presented to the client.

To find out how Peter Cox can fix a dry rot problem in your property, click the links below:

What customers say about our dry rot repair service

Our dry rot repair service has been rated and accredited by leading property care trade bodies such as the Property Care Association and Which? Trusted Trader, so it is no surprise that our customers find our dry rot team such a pleasure to work with.

Take a look at what our customers have been saying about us on the popular review platform Trustpilot.

Contact our dry rot specialist team

At Peter Cox, we have been surveying and treating dry rot problems since 1951.

If you suspect your property has dry rot, and you want the UK’s leading dry rot experts, then call Peter Cox on 0800 633 5712 or use our the contact button below to get the assistance you need an experienced and qualified team from one of our many local branches across the UK.

Author: Richard Walker AIWSc CSRT CSSW

Our National Technical Manager Richard Walker is held in high regard in the industry for his extensive knowledge and experience of working with dry rot and other property preservation problems. If you are in the property industry then you might recognise Richard from the accredited CPD seminars he delivers on dry rot and other preservation issues.

For more on Richard's qualifications in the dry rot industry you can view his profile page or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Next Steps

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