How to Spot Rotting Timber (and What to Do About It)

Whether you have a new build or an old property, the structure will be made up of timber framing. It’s a strong, reliable material used in construction, unfortunately, it’s susceptible to wood rot. When wet or dry rot sets in, it compromises the integrity of the structure and poses a huge risk. If you’re worried your property might have wood rot, here’s everything you need to know.

Spot and treat rotting timber

Dry rot vs wet rot: what’s the difference?

There are two different types of rot that affect timber: dry and wet. Although they both lead to the deterioration of wood, they are quite different.

Dry rot

Dry rot is caused by a fungus called Serpula lacrymans. The fungus grows and feeds on the cellulose in the wood. As it eats through, the wood deteriorates, compromising the integrity of your property.

It can be difficult to spot dry rot in a property and it can go undetected for some time. When it becomes pervasive, signs include:

  • A fluffy white substance on timber
  • Mushroom-like fungus on the surface (often rust red or yellowish in colour)
  • Spore dust floating
  • Warped, split, crumbling, or shrunken wood
  • An unpleasant musty smell

Wet rot

Wet rot is also caused by fungus – the most common being ‘Coniophora Puteana’ (also known as cellar fungus). When timber becomes damp, this fungus proliferates and eats away at the wood.

The difference here is that wet rot will only spread as far as the damp extends. Dry rot, on the other hand, will spread much more quickly.

It’s also much easier to identify wet rot and it’s far more common. The signs include:

  • Wood appearing darker in certain areas
  • Easy to penetrate or break up
  • Feels damp to the touch, soft and spongy
  • A black fungus may be visible in severe cases

How to treat wood rot

Dry rot and wet rot are treated differently and the methods will depend on your property and the severity of the rot.

The first step is identifying the source of the damp and removing it completely. This could be a leaking pipe or a crack in a wall or roof that is letting in moisture. If you get the rot removed without remedying the damp issue, it will likely return.

Next, a chemical fungicide will be used to eradicate the rot and stop it spreading further. Although it is possible to buy rot treatments in local hardware stores, it’s best to call the professionals for severe cases to ensure the problem is gone completely.

Protective measures are then needed to keep the wood dry moving forward. This involves keeping the wood dry and treating it with a commercial quality waterproofer to stop rot becoming an issue in the future.

Call the timber treatment experts

If you think you have either dry or wet rot in your property in Worthing, call us today. We are experts in damp proofing and timber treatment and will assess the extent of the problem for you. All of our damp proofing work is covered by an extensive 20-year company guarantee, giving you peace of mind that your rot issue is gone for good.

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"We had a timber survey carried out by R.H. Smith. They have been excellent from the start, prompt communication and even managed to schedule us a last minute cancellation appointment as I needed the survey done quickly. The report came through 4 days later as promised. Very honest report and extremely helpful."

Jen R.