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  • Marc Tate

Dry Rot

Dry rot is one of those household problems people often hear about but don’t really understand. A major issue is the very misleading name. Most sensible people would assume that dry rot meant it was rot that happens under dry conditions but it’s exactly the opposite. It’s a type of fungus that grows on very damp wood which causes it to rot and break apart. As you can imagine, when it infects a property, it can cause serious problems over time.


What is Dry Rot?


Not only does dry rot live on wet wood, it likes wood that is actually really very wet and has a moisture content of at least 20%. It is a type of fungus that can grow on forest trees but also on the wood in people’s homes. Wood infected with dry rot can darken, shrink and ultimately crack. Obviously, this is very bad news in areas like floorboards where weakened wood can actually be dangerous as well as in roof structures and other supporting wooden beams in a building. A particular issue with dry rot is that it can spread through other damp materials in a building so one small patch can quickly become a larger issue.


Identifying Dry Rot


Like most funguses, dry rot takes a lot of different forms and can look quite different in various conditions or at various stages of its development. Some dry rot starts to form as white wispy cottonwool-like material in some humid conditions but can go on to form an orange/brown skin like a mushroom in less humid areas. That orange/brown colour is quite distinctive and active decay in the wood also gives of a musty/damp smell. The damage pattern on the wood is strangely square and regular which also makes it possible to identify. People sometimes find that dry rot is starting to grow behind radiators or leaking washing machines which goes unnoticed for a long time giving the dry rot a chance to spread to other areas. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to regularly check your home for signs of water leaking or ingress.



What to do if You Suspect Your Property has Dry Rot


The most important thing to do if you suspect you have dry rot is to stop that water getting where it shouldn’t be. Whether you find you have leaking pipes, a leaking appliance or water getting in from the outside, it is vital to stop that happening. If you have water coming in from outside but aren’t sure of the cause, Marc can help you diagnose the issue. People sometimes experience dry rot with rising damp, broken roof tiles or water seeping through the walls due to broken guttering etc. Wood damaged by dry rot will often need to be replaced and some areas may need treating with a fungicide. There are specialist businesses who can advise you on exactly what you will need in these situations.


Clearly, dry rot is another serious issue caused by damp getting into your home. We know that homes by the coast, and particularly period properties like we have so many of in Brighton and Sussex, commonly suffer from damp but Marc can help you identify these issues and advise you on how to fix them before they start to cause serious problems like dry rot. If you’re concerned about damp in your home and would like Marc to have a look, please get in touch on 01273 281624 or email info@tatesurveyingservices.co.uk.

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