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Dry rot is a fungus that attacks timber in buildings. It is the most serious form of timber decay, and can spread rapidly if not treated. Dry rot can attack all kinds of timber, old or new. A lack of ventilation combined with damp conditions provide the ideal conditions for fungal attack on timber.
Fungi spores require certain conditions to exist, so certain areas of your property may be more susceptible to dry rot. They include the existence of wood, an oxygen source, moisture and darkness. Because of of this it is often likely to grow behind paneling or floorboards. The optimum conditions for dry rot is damp areas with poor ventilation, as spores in the air will germinate if they land on moist wood.
Once fully grown the fungi will develop strands - effectively like roots - which spread the fungus to other timbers and parts of the building, travelling through masonry and brickwork. Once the fungus has developed its fruiting body (sporophore) it reproduces and releases millions of spores, which with the slightest movement of air, will float off and be available to settle on another piece of damp timber to start the process off all over again.
There are a number of signals that dry rot is beginning to take hold in structural timber.
Fruiting Body - rust coloured plate or bracket shape - can release 30 million spores a day
Mycelium - white or gray growth
Timbers - becoming dry and brittle
Timbers - crumbling to the touch
Dark Timbers - rots tend to darken the colour of the wood as they attack it
Cuboidal cracking - The cuboidal cracking in dry rot affected timber tends to be quite pronounced with cubes up to 50mm.
Malignant spreading - dry rot will spread in search of fresh timber to attack, even through masonry and over steelwork
Growth - white, fluffy cotton wool-like growth appearing
Smell - a mushroom-like smell lingering