Dry rot has the potential to ruin any wooden structure. You’ve probably heard of dry rot even if you’ve never encountered it. However, you might not know exactly what it is, how to spot it, or how to treat it. Given how common dry rot is, and how much damage it can do if left unchecked, it’s worth understanding exactly what it is and how you can prevent it.
Identifying dry rot
Also known as ‘brown rot’, dry rot is caused by fungi and leads to wood decay. Where dry rot occurs, these fungi break down cellulose and hemicellulose, both of which are important for giving wood its strength and resilience. When these components are depleted, the wood will become brittle and take on a ‘blocky’ appearance.
The fungi responsible for dry rot like a damp environment, so where you have wooden structures and damp there’s a danger of dry rot forming. Some types of wood are more susceptible than others. For dry rot to break out, the moisture content needs to rise in excess of 20%. In most cases, dry rot can be treated by removing the source of the moisture, as well as any wood that’s already been affected.
How does it spread?
As with other types of fungus, those responsible for dry rot spread via the spores that they produce. When these spores are released, they become airborne and are easily spread owing to their tiny size and weight. This means that dry rot tends to spread as far as the ideal conditions for dry rot exist.
There are three common sources of the moisture that allows dry rot to spread. The first is due to the wood not being correctly kiln-dried prior to being used for construction, a process which would usually reduce the moisture content to make it more resistant to rotting. The other two common causes are exposure to highly humid conditions and exposure to large volumes of water.
If dry rot does take hold then you have a number of different treatment options. Epoxy treatments will kill the rot and also reinforce the structure of the wood, they involve filling in channels with an epoxy resin. Commercial antifreeze has sometimes been used as a treatment for wood rot, as it’s effective at killing the fungus responsible, as well as preventing dry rot forming in the future.
If you encounter a particularly serious outbreak then you might want to hire a professional service to remove it.
Preventing dry rot is pretty simple. As you may have guessed, it’s mostly a case of ensuring that moisture and damp aren’t allowed to accumulate around any wooden structures on your property. Whenever you paint wood, make sure that you prime it first, as this will prevent moisture becoming trapped underneath the paint and leading to dry rot breaking out.
Keeping the issue at bay is a case of keeping any wood and wooden structures on your property away from excessive moisture. If you can do this, then you should be able to remain free of the condition.