what is dry rot – wet rot in wood rot

dry rotWhat is dry rot, wet rot in wood rot? An occasional splashing, or even dousing, does no harm to timber, provided that it IS allowed to dry out thoroughly. Timber that is continually and excessively moist, however, will eventually rot. Most people can recognize the signs of rotting wood. lt warps and the surface starts to break up. Press it and it feels soft and spongy. By itself, the moisture in the timber does not cause rot. Rot is caused instead by fungi that are encouraged to grow in the dampness. A house that is well maintained, free from damp and well ventilated will not harbour rot. Rot is usually classified into two types; wet rot and dry rot. Do not be misled by the name of the latter; it too is caused by damp. It gets it name because it reduces the timber it attacks to a dry powdery surface.


wet rotWet rot is much more common than dry rot, but fortunately is easier to cure. Both are serious conditions much more so than woodworm. They can destroy the timbers of your home, reducing it to a dangerous, unhealthy and unsightly condition. Identifying rot is not difficult. Dry rot causes a musty smell and a lot or rust-red dust. The dust is, in fact, spores from a fungus. In advanced cases, deep cracks will break up the surface of the wood into cubes, some of them quite large. The surface of badly affected timber will be covered by a web of matted fungus. This web grows rapidly in humid conditions and generally looks like cotton wool. If it comes into contact with drier air, or is exposed to light, bright yellow patches appear. When the fungus is growing in damp conditions, globules of water-like drops are formed.


The fungus also produces a thin, pancake-like fruit. The centre is ridged and rust red in colour, but the edges are white. The wood darkens in colour, is powdery when rubbed between the fingers and loses its resinous smell. If you pick it up, it feels much lighter than it should. The most damaging parts of the fungus are the strands of the web. They spread, often unseen, and convey water to wood farther away that is dry and sound. Thus the condition spreads. Even if you remove defective wood, these strands could be left behind to continue spreading the fungus. As well as infecting the wood, they can pass through soft mortar and brickwork and find their way around stone and metal. The fungal strands of wet rot are never as thick as those of dry rot, and they do not spread with the same ease. They cannot, for instance, penetrate brickwork. Moreover, they are dark brown in colour and, when growing over the surface of wood or damp plaster. form a sort of fem shape. A thin veneer of surface wood may conceal a soft dark mass of rot underneath.

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