While most features of a house can be replaced if they fall into disrepair or are damaged, a house’s foundation and structure can be difficult and expensive to replace. To help protect the structure of a house, you need to have it inspected for termites or dry rot to maintain your home’s value. Dry rot can attack any wood within a home, including the joists, beams, or subflooring.
What Is Dry Rot?
Dry rot is the result of a species of fungi which attacks damp wood or structural materials in your home. If not treated, it can decimate the wood in your home and get into both masonry and plaster. Since it attacks damp wood, you need to figure out what is causing the dampness in your home.
Causes of Dry Rot
Damp wood and structural materials can be the result of high levels of condensation in your home. Condensation can have many causes, but in houses, it is often the result of trapped hot air coming in contact with cooler surfaces, or warmer air in the home cooling down. Condensation can be prevented with proper ventilation.
Rainwater leaking into your home can also lead to dry rot if the timber is untreated. If you have a leak in your roof or foundation, the water can run onto the timber framing, the masonry, or the plasterboard and result in a serious problem. Before getting rid of the affected materials, the source of the leak needs to be found and stopped or the problem could happen again.
Dry rot could also be the cause of pipes or appliances, such as a freezer or washing machine, leaking water onto untreated floorboards or timber underneath the house. It can be difficult to spot problems deep within the home’s structure, such as underneath the house or within the walls, so you need to be able to recognize the signs of dry rot.
How to Recognise Dry Rot
Since dry rot is caused by a fungus, it is a living entity. The following are the four stages of a dry rot cycle:
- Sporophore, also called fruiting body
- Affected wood
- Dry rot smell
The first stage of dry rot is mycelium growth, which appears to be a white or grey cotton or wool-like substance. During this stage, mycelium can spread throughout the area in search of a food source, which is generally wood. For it to spread, the conditions have to be just right, which includes having damp wood or structural materials.
Sporophore or Fruiting Body
During this stage the fruiting body can come in a variety of shapes and sizes with the inner area taking on a deep rust-red colour with a whitish outer ring. Most fruiting bodies are round, but their size, as well as their shape, depends on the conditions of the wood or material. Dust from the spores is one of the first indications to homeowners of a dry rot problem.
As dry rot acts to remove moisture from wood and dry it out, the affected wood will show signs of dry rot being present. Wood with dry rot will look dry and may shrink due to the lack of moisture in it. The wood may be brittle and become warped, and the grains will look like the wood has cracked.
Dry Rot Smell
Another indication of the possible presence of dry rot is the odour. Dry rot has a damp, musty, fungal smell which you may come across in a crawl space of the house, or in the attic or the basement. If you find a damp area in your home and it has a musty smell, you should have someone inspect it for mould and dry rot.
How Dry Rot Is Treated
The way your dry rot problem will be treated depends on the extent of it. If it has affected structural materials, then they will need to be removed, which will require the help of professionals. Any wood infected with the fungus needs to be removed, and it is also recommended that healthy wood within a metre of the original infection site be removed as well.
After the infected wood and surrounding healthy wood is removed, it will need to be replaced with new wood, which should be treated, or pre-treated, with a fungicide. If the fungi have gotten into the masonry or other materials, you will need to remove and replace those as well. You should go ahead and treat the rest of the timber in your home with fungicide to prevent further issues with dry rot.
Preventing Dry Rot
To prevent issues with dry rot, you will need to find the source of the dampness within your home. If it is caused by condensation, then you may need to properly ventilate the damp areas, such as the attic, or use a dehumidifier to get rid of excess moisture in the air of your home. If the source of moisture is leaking pipes or water seeping into the foundation or roof, then those leaks need to be found and repaired.
Another way to prevent further issues with dry rot is to have your home damp-proofed by professional technicians. A damp-proofing company can survey your home to find the source of your dry rot problem. They can provide solutions to repair any problems they find, treat your home, and prevent further fungal infestations leading to dry rot. If you need to locate a damp-proofing company in your area, check on Thomson Local for essential damp control contacts.
A company specializing in damp proofing and dry rot solutions can help you retain the value of your home by removing dry rot and treating the rest of your house. By finding the sources of moisture and making repairs to prevent further dampness, dry rot and the damage it can do can be easily prevented. If you suspect dry rot is in your home, call on professionals to inspect your house and provide solutions to treat it.