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What is Timber Rot and Why is it in My Property?

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What is Timber Rot and Why is it in My Property?

When you are in a property affected by damp, you’ll soon notice that the air has a dank, musty smell that’s more noticeable the closer you get to the affected area. You may also notice degrading timbers and odd substances growing on the damp wood, but without experience, it may leave homeowners scratching their heads in question. What you are experiencing is a type of timber rot and depending on the situation could be classed as wet rot or dry rot.

Damp proofing specialists, like London based Avant Garde Damp Solutions, will be able to identify exactly what type of rot you are suffering with and treat and repair the afflicted area. However, there are some subtle differences in the type of rot that homeowners may be able to identify and some handy tips to ensure your property doesn’t become affected, or to avoid timber rotting in the future.

What is This Rot?

Wet and Dry Rot is the name of the fungus that grows on affected wood, as opposed to the type of damage that happens to the timber. It can look similar but occurs under different conditions and spreads in different ways.

Wet Rot – as the name suggests, wet rot grows on timber with a high moisture content, typically 50% or higher. Visibly, it appears as white strands of mycelium which spread across the affected timber and can cause wood to shrink and crack. Timber affected by wet rot will have a noticeable discolouration and be spongy to the touch. Wet rot can only spread in damp areas so a good solution to prevent spreading is to isolate the damp patch of wood and ensure moisture cannot disperse through the timber or into other beams.

Dry Rot – found on timber with a low moisture content, around or below 20-30%. Dry rot is slightly different in appearance, growing with a white/yellow-white cotton wool look during a new growth stage and turning to a dull grey when left untreated. Affected timber tends to crack along the grain and crumble under touch or pressure. You may notice a red spore dust around the affected room once the rot has established itself and grown fruiting bodies. The most concerned difference between wet and dry rot is the ability to spread, wet rot can only anchor to timber with high moisture content whereas dry rot can rapidly spread through the timber in an affected property.

Why Do I Have Rot in My Property?

Both types of rot are introduced by damp in your property, this could be a leaking roof tile in your attic or trapped water in your basement or cellar. Dry rot needs a low moisture content in timber so only requires a small amount of damp for the spores to germinate while wet rot will spread through properties with a large damp problem.

You are more likely to find wet rot where there are more pressing problems at hand, such as rising damp, penetrative damp and a constant source of water leakages, such as broken gutters or leaking roofs. You’ll find dry rot in places where a leak has been present but isn’t constant such as plumbing leaks, leaking roofs and defective gutters.

While both types of rot require similar conditions to establish, treating them follows different procedures and shouldn’t be undertaken by homeowners who aren’t familiar with the treatment processes. If you suspect your property is suffering from wet or dry rot, contact our specialist London team.


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