What is Dry Rot?
Despite its name, dry rot is generally caused by water entering a property. With the Latin name of Serpula lacrymans, it is the cause of major decay in buildings and can cause extensive damage. Often reffered to as a brown rot, it most often occurs in timber which is in contact with, or embedded in, wet brickwork or masonry. The fungus is very sensitive to temperatures of over 25 degrees centigrade especially in drying conditions. Exposed timbers and timbers where there is good ventilation are rarely affected. Damaged timber takes on a very dull brown colour, mostly developing deep cracks along and across the grain (known as cubing). The timber loses weight as it loses moisture and will crumble between the fingers. Unlike some wet rots, there is no hardened surface to disguise this drying out as the whole section of timber is affected. Dry rot is a fungus, developing a fruiting body at the source of its damp home. The fruiting body is normally found on timber attached or at least in contact with masonry, where damp conditions can prevail. The fruit body is quite tough and fleshy to feel, and develops a pancake like shape. The centre is a yellow ochre when it is young and this develops to a deep rust colour when it is allowed to grow. The deepening in colour is a result of the fine, brown spores it produces which are generally gathered in a dust below the body. The edges of the fruit body will be white or grey...This fruit body may be the first sign of dry rot. Named "dry rot" because of its apparent ability to grow in dry areas, this fungus has developed the ability to soak up moisture from timber, totally drying it out, and then develop strands which can travel across walls and through mortar to other timbers in unventilated conditions. It cannot feed on the masonry but carries the moisture it needs in the strands, thus allowing it to spread throughout a property.
How is dry rot treated?
The treatment of dry rot is generally tackled in two parts. Unless already done so, the cause of the water ingress must be stopped. If this is a leaking gutter or cracked render, this needs to be addressed. The extent of the internal remedial repairs will be determined by the distance travelled by the dry rot spores. It is commonly known that treatment of dry rot needs to extend one metre beyond the last sign of the spores. If structural timbers such as floor joists or timber lintels have been affected, the remedial works will be intrusive and involve the removal of internal wall linings and plaster. Stone or brick walls will usually have to be drilled and irrigated with chemicals to kill of the fungus. While it is not necessary for the occupants of the property to move out during the works, they will have restricted access to the areas being treated. We will seal up the area being worked in to allow the remaining rooms of the property that are unaffected, to be used as normal. We use the latest, and safest, chemicals on the market to treat dry rot and the re-entry time for the occupants of the property is greatly reduced compared to the old chemicals.
The care taken with the reinstatement of the property after treatment is crucial. We have our own plastering division which allows us to programme the works with the aim of getting the property back to rights as soon as possible. As part of WSZ Joiners who can machine skirting boards, door architraves, etc. to match the existing finishing timbers.
All dry rot works are covered by our own company guarantee for 30 years. We can also provided a 30 year protected guarantee from our chemical supplier, Biokil-Crown. This protected guarantee is highly recommended for dry rot works and gives the property owner additional peace of mind.
What should I do if I suspect I have dry rot?
Contact us and we will arrange to carry out an initial diagnosis survey. If dry rot is confirmed, this will normally be followed up with a full investigative survey to determine the full extent of the treatment required. This survey will also allow us to give you a more accurate cost for the treatment and remedial works.