Dry Rot FAQ

Dry Rot

You are moving in the right direction with Richardson and starling. Our team of timber preservation specialists will be able to identify, treat and eradicate the dry rot attack affecting your property.

Dry rot is otherwise known as “Serpula Lacrymans” and it is a wood-destroying fungus. It can be found in countries across the world and it is extremely common. This type of rot originally affected dead trees in the forest, but now it is commonly known for the ability to destroy timbers used in buildings.

The problem of this type of rot can be dated back as far as the 18th century. It is still not certain where dry rot came from to infest timbers in the UK. It has been speculated that it was transported to British shores by ships from Europe carrying infected timbers.

Any unprotected timber in building that become damp above 20% moisture content is at risk of being affected by rot. Continue reading about about dry rot.

It can be extremely tricky to identify dry rot, however, a member of our specialist team will be able to recognize dry rot against any other types of wood-destroying fungi.

One factor which is unique to dry rot is that it can travel through cracks, mortar beds and voids in masonry looking for new timber to attack. This is why it can spread through properties incredibly quickly. After identification, our team will create a specific detailed report and specification to treat the rot outbreak.

If you are concerned about dry rot in your home, there are some signs that may appear.

  • Dry rot likes to grow behind walls and under floors and the first sign you may see is cracking on skirting or facing timbers in your home.
  • There may be a change in the wood where the infestation lies. It might have shrunk, darkened or has cracked into cubes.
  • A white, fluffy mycelium may develop on the wood. This mycelium looks like cotton-wool.
  • In some cases, a grey, mushroom coloured skin may develop on the wood.
  • Rust red coloured spores are often found in the rot affected area. These spores come from the sporophore or flower of dry rot.
  • Rot may also smell musty, giving off a damp mushroom odour.
  • If you do believe your property has a rot problem, the fungus attack can cause permanent structural damage.

If you see any of these symptoms, we recommend that a survey is carried out to identify if the damage is caused by rot. If this type of rot is found, then an appropriate specification of remedial works to treat the infected areas could be issued. With dry rot, it is better to be safe than sorry and a member of our team can carry out a targeted survey in all types of flats, apartments, and homes across Scotland and Cumbria.

As mentioned, dry rot can occur when excessive moisture or dampness is present in a property. Any unprotected timber that becomes damp above 20% moisture content can be affected by timber destroying fungi. Rot is often linked to the following problems:

Penetrating damp – Penetrating damp can be caused by external defects affecting your property. In most cases, this type of damp will occur due to defective rainwater goods, leaking roofs or poor pointing and render.

Rising damp – At Richardson and Starling, we also specialise in the treatment of rising damp, another factor which can contribute to the growth of timber fungus. Rising damp is caused by an ineffective damp proof course.

Condensation – Condensation is another problem that many of our customers face. It is important that your home is sufficiently ventilated. Poor Ventilation can lead to several property problems, including damp.

Internal plumbing leaks – Leaks from water tanks and defective plumbing can create the required damp conditions to create dry rot. Also, if you have a flood from a bathroom or your washing machine this could also cause rot to occur.

The dry rot life cycle consists of 4 main stages, each with their own tell-tale signs that can help you identify a rot outbreak.

Microscopic rot spores are found almost everywhere. They are invisible to the human eye however when in large numbers they appear as red and orange dust, this is one of the simplest ways of identifying a dry rot issue. The lifecycle of rot begins when spores come into contact with damp unprotected timber in a favourable environment. Once on the timber the spore can germinate and produce Hyphae growth.

Hyphae act as the root of the rot, stringing fine strands to grow through and on the timber. The hyphae will then feed on the nutrients within the cells of the wood. This leads to shrinkage of the wood causing cross grain cuboidal cracking, removing the woods strength and reducing the wood to an unsound structural state. Hyphae then multiply and colonise together, generating more mycelium growth which looks like a fluffy cotton-wool like substance.

Mycelium can travel great distances to find new sources of food, and it is this ability to spread over and through various building materials (it can even go through bricks and mortar!) that allows a dry rot outbreak to progressively feed on timbers throughout an entire property.

Like any life form, rot can be stopped by a lack of oxygen, food source or water. But what makes rot annoyingly unique is that when short of such vital elements, the dry rot produces a flower known as a sporophore. This allows the spore bearing surface of the sporophore to shed red/orange coloured spores into the atmosphere in the hope that that the spores can land once again in the right environment to carry on germinating and extending the growth period of the rot outbreak.

The fact is, rot can affect all types of properties. Whether your home is a flat, apartment, bungalow or detached house, it is possible that your home could be suffering with damp and this can put the timbers in your home at risk.

Depending on your home’s environmental conditions, rot can grow up to 300mm per month. You might have guessed that dry rot gets its name from the affected timber being reduced to a dry and brittle state. This infection leaves timber ruined and stripped away of its nutrients and strength.

For rot to occur, untreated or unprotected timber must become damp and have a high moisture content above 20%. No Damp – No Rot.

There are good reasons why you should choose Richardson and Starling. We have a team of fully trained and qualified surveyors that can travel to homes all over Scotland and the North of England.

Dry rot should not be underestimated and needs to be dealt with thoroughly to protect your home. Your treatment will be completed professionally by our trained and qualified technicians in a safe and considerate process. We have been eradicating rot issues since 1935 and have over 85 years of experience behind us. Our experienced surveyor will:

  • Firstly, accurately identify the rot fungus, assess the type and scope of the damage
  • Identify the source of moisture
  • Detail a bespoke specification to deal with the rot attack
  • Our team will remove property fabric including wood and plaster that has been damaged by the effects of dry rot
  • We will then replace the timber and protect the timber to make the structure sound again.
  • The required fungicidal treatment will be done safely to the masonry and timber in the affected area
  • Disturbed fabric to walls and ceilings will be reinstated as detailed in our report.
  • Throughout the whole process our team will offer you honest and accurate advice on the best way to treat your rot problem

Get in touch today for advice if you suspect that there is dry rot growing in your property or to request a survey.

We have 13 branches in Scotland and the North of England. Our local Surveyors and teams understand the specific requirements of their area and will work with you to solve your property problem. As a leading property repair specialist there isn’t a timber problem that we cannot fix!