The differences between wet and dry rot, how to tell what type is present, why they both form and how dry rot especially is an enemy. Calling in expert help.
Dry or wet rot means professional expertise is needed urgently
Rot – whether wet or dry – is the major cause of timber decay and needs dealing with as soon as possible. Wet rot is less serious than dry rot but both are enemies to older and even newer properties with some timber content.
Wet and dry rot explained
Wet rot – the reason wet rot is generally less serious than dry is because it’s usually more localised to a specific area and can often be quickly identified.
The reason for this is that wet rot is usually caused by significant water ingress such as through a leaking roof, pipe, window or similar. When you spot the wet rot then it often follows that the leak or area of water ingress in nearby; once it’s dealt with the wet rot is isolated and growth will stop.
It requires a moisture content of around 50% to take hold. Hopefully if it hasn’t become too established it can be repaired or treated.
Dry rot – much more of a problem in that it can go undetected for some while as it forms in usually less frequently accessed areas such as in floor cavities or attics and will likely spread over a larger area.
Despite its name dry rot actually requires moisture to form albeit not as much as with wet rot – around 20% moisture content is enough. It usually occurs when an area has poor ventilation causing moisture to form.
Condensation on windows near or relatively near to the area of dry rot could be a symptom that there is dry rot present; it’s very serious as left unchecked it can destroy large areas of timber including load bearing beams.
Both wet and dry rot are caused by forms of fungus that cause the wood to decay, and both require expert help from professional dry and wet rot companies to treat them.
The following are tell-tale clues you have either wet or dry rot:
Both types of rot will give off a musty smell
Wet rot symptoms:
- Areas of wood look darker than surrounding ones
- Soft and spongy feel to the wood
- Cracks in timber
- Fungus growing in concentrated area
- Wood shrinkage
Dry rot symptoms:
- Fluffy looking white areas across the wood
- ‘Fruiting’ appearance looking like a mushroom in shape; maybe orange or rust colour
- Red or similar coloured dust nearby
- Brittle and crumbling timber
Dry rot – not just wood
If timbers are affected with dry rot than it could well be the case that masonry and brickwork has fallen victim, too. It can take many months or even years before signs show up.
How to treat rot
As said above, the services of wet and dry rot experts is paramount. Dry rot especially needs detailed and professional assistance as it’s vital that the extent to which it’s taken hold is established – it could be lurking in places not immediately visible and might have spread across a very wide area.
As both wet and dry rot are caused by moisture allied to poor ventilation, rot experts will help establish where water is getting in, why ventilation is poor and then tackle the rot issue.
Timbers can sometimes be treated with chemicals and just the worst affected timbers can be stripped out and replaced. Alternatively, treatment may entail removal of timber and large scale replacements in extreme cases.
Having dealt with a wet or dry rot problem, it’s important to take preventative measures to stop them returning.