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Guide to Dry and Wet Rot

Dry and wet rot in timber may become a major problem. As you may know well, timber is a building material used in nearly all aspects of construction work. This can include everything from the floorboards and skirting to the frame of a house. Rot is a problem that is often caused by being exposed to moisture. Unfortunately, timber is a material that commonly comes into contact with it. 

Rooms that may be particularly susceptible to rot are bathrooms and kitchens. Conservatories and roofs are also very likely to be affected.

Luckily, homeowners can acquire wood treatments that can help in preventing lots of the damage caused by rot. However, these are not guaranteed to completely work at all times. In line with this, it is a great idea to have familiarisation with the causes of rot. From this, you can address how a possibly expensive case can be avoided. 

What is dry rot?

Dry rot wood is highly destructive to woodwork. This fungus has a technical name, Serpula Lacrymans. This can reduce joists, stalwart beams, and timbers into hazardous and crumbling structures. 

Regardless of its name, it needs moisture in order to thrive. As a matter of fact, it needs wood with a moisture content of 20% at the minimum. It loves warm, damp, and unventilated conditions. So it is commonly found in locations that cannot be easily seen.  This includes:

  • The Underside Of Your Wooden Floors
  • Roof Trusses 
  • Behind The Skirting Boards
  • Beneath The Stairs 

The worst case with dry rot is that its spores can travel quickly. These spores are always on the lookout for more timber to feed on.  It is not only timber that they effect, but also plaster and masonry as well.

Within a matter of months, the whole structural integrity of a building may become compromised.  So it is important that you act fast if dry rot is suspected.

What is wet rot?

Wet rot is fungi, breaking down wood and causing the wood to decay. It is a part of the natural ecosystem of the planet. The fungi functions to recycle dead wood and release nutrients into the environment in the process.

Wet rot is more likely to occur than dry rot, but the damage is not as serious when compared to dry rot. Decay happens on wet timber, and areas which continuously remain damp. 

Even though it is often confined to wood, decay may also happen on wallpaper, damp plastic, and carpets. 

Why does wood rot happen?

Rot occurs if timber remains damp for a long period of time.  Softwood rot will start developing and cause the timber to soften. If the timber has moisture in moderate level but the air can also freely access, a dry rot may develop.  And this can cause a bigger problem. 

The fungus is helped to maintain growth by humidity under conditions that are poorly ventilated. Upon the spreading of decay, it will start causing problems. This includes attacking the structural integrity of the building. If the dry rot has not been identified immediately, it is important that you get rid and replace all the affected timber. 

If the structural materials start to absorb damp from either a leaky roof or a leaky pipe, wet rot will start developing. In order to get this problem solved, you will have to stop the cause of the damp.

You should also get the timber isolated from the damp source before you treat the affected areas. When treating the area, it is important to also treat the unaffected areas. This is to be able to prevent any future decay outbreaks. 

The appearance of wet rot can darken the timber and develop an appearance of a characteristic crack. Some wet rot could be a result of bleaching the wood. These are more common in window frames and doors. The wood will eventually lose its strength and in several cases, it may become unsafe.

Dry rot is much more dangerous because it is digesting the timber parts that give its stiffness and strength. Dry rot may spread without any source of moisture. It can still generate moisture by means of digesting the wood. 

Treatments for Dry and Wet Rot

There are principles for treating and eradicating dry and wet rot. 

Primary measures of treatment and control

The most vulnerable feature of fungi is that it requires water.  It is for this reason that treatment requires the elimination of damp. This will form the primary measure to completely get rid of dry and wet rot.

You need to find and rectify the fungi's source of water that causes and maintain the rot. Another important thing to do is promote and maintain immediate drying conditions. 

Removing the source of water for fungi is the first point of attack. Thus, it is important that you stop further ingress of water. This action alone will help to treat  and eliminate the activity. It is indeed the primary measure that must be taken into great consideration in order to eradicate the organism. This action is required to promote and maintain a good drying condition. 

Secondary and supporting measures

After doing the primary measures for treatment and control, remove the wood that has been infected by the fungi. Removing the food source is also a big step to stopping growth and spread. 

This may mean removing one meter of affected timber. It could mean considerably more or less, depending on every specific case. However, it is important to note that in cases where rot occur in a historic building or timber, a much less destructive approach could be taken. This relies on drying techniques, which should be monitored carefully. 

You should have physical and spatial isolation. You may reinstate the timbers through joinery wrap and joist hangers. These will deny the fungi for a possible source of food, and they will prevent timbers to become wet. 

You may also reinstate a pre-treated timber, pressure impregnated or double vacuum as needed. You can use inert materials like steel, concrete, and more. You should include in your consideration the use of preservatives for steeping joist ends before reinstating. 

Contain the fungi within the masonry and away from the possible source of food. 

Fungicidal paints and renderings:

These function by forming chemical barriers effectively. They are in accordance with the use of zinc oxychloride.

Physical containment:

It includes joinery lining around the adjacent timbers.

Masonry sterilisation: 

This is the application of a special water-based fungicide to the masonry through a surface spray that has a masonry biocide. It is commonly all that you need. 

Nevertheless, when you are in a more severe case, a toxic box or cordon sanitaire may be used. This involves a drilling perimeter rotted area and gets masonry injected under pressure. The work will be done with a spray for liberal surfaces or a brushing treatment with the sterilant. 

The traditional irrigation on the complete wall. This is done using standard water based fungicides which are injected under pressure. Here, in which the entirety of the wall will be drilling injected. This process may introduce too many problems and it is basically not necessary. 

It will also introduce excess water to the masonry and thus, causing more damage than the dry and wet rot. It is very not likely that full saturation is to be attained, and it is also not a necessary use of biocide. 

Chemical treatment for dry and wet rot and for the timber

Fluid injection:

This involves injecting fungicides carried in the organic solvents through special plastic valves driven into the wood. The fluid is to be injected under pressure. This may give good distribution of the fungicide but make sure the wood is not too wet.  

Unlike the conventional paste preservatives, fluid is being injected within the wood.  It does not depend on surface penetration. However, it is very likely that timbers are wet or damp.  When this treatment is applied, it may only result in poor distribution of preservative. This is because there is a presence of a resident moisture. 

Conventional fungicidal pastes:

The conventional pastes consist of water and oil emulsion. These have high oil content carrying the fungicide.  You tend to get deep penetration as long as you apply a sufficient amount, with the wood being not totally wet. 

However, there are many cases that the wood has already been damp, and hence, they are at risk of decay. In these cases, the conventional paste preservatives will not be likely to penetrate to any great extent. This is due to the resident moisture in the wood.

In addition, any applied paste to the surface will rely on diffusion in order to reach deep within the wood. Through these pastes, the necessary fungicide level for rot prevention is not likely to be attained. This is because the paste will stay nearer the surface.

Borate rods:

This preservative has been supplied as rods that look like a glass. This consists of a special fusion of boron compounds, inserted into holes and drilled into the wood. 

The rods are soluble in water and they need to become damp. This is so that the rod will slowly dissolve and distribute the preservative by diffusion toward the areas that are wet.

Since the rod has been embedded in the wood, the preservative is distributing accurately into those areas. This acts as a  risk to the decay. They have ideal use in those areas which are risky to decay but still not affected. This includes window joinery, embedded joist ends, and more. 

Why it is important to treat and control dry and wet rot?

These treatments should be considered in preventing the survival and growth of dry and wet rot. Prevention is used alongside the practices and methods for its treatment and control. The emphasis is to attack the important requirements for survival and growth. 

On places where chemical treatment is being used for supporting the primary treatment the wood should be assessed.  To lessen the decay risk to timbers that are damp, it is important the entire parts of the wood at risk are treated. For instance, deep within the timber, it is not very likely to be attained with conventional preservatives.

Boron can be effective when compared to the conventional pastes. The boron-based materials are particularly designed to work in high-risk cases such as when the timbers are at risk to decay and are damp. 

The glycol and boron formulations have the additional benefit. They distribute more quickly than that of the solid borate rods. Thus, they make sure greater possible protection and lessen the risk of rotting more quickly.

It is particularly  used where the contents of moisture for dry and wet rot serve as the process for survival. The solid borate rods do not distribute so effectively under these marginal conditions. 

The treatment for dry and wet rot needs to be the responsibility of specialist treatment providers and companies. This includes all the attendant building works and any chemical treatment whenever important.

The specialist company will fundamentally understand the involved elements. They can assess thoroughly the outbreak of wet and dry rot.  These act together with the importance of the treatment measures and risks associated.

Aside from that, the use of a damp specialist will help you in getting rid of the problem of spread responsibility. When several treatments are applied by different persons. There is no consistency in the work completed. A specialist can manage the full situation. 3rd part treatments may not work together cohesively.