What is Dry Rot and How to Solve This Problem
Last modified: 2017/12/07 | 2 mins
Are you familiar with «building cancer », dry rot or serpula lacrymans? More and more stories are coming out in the media about people experiencing terrible situations where this fungus attacks the building materials of their house. In this article, we will try to provide information about this type of bacteria, its causes and potential consequences.
Serpula lacrymans is a type of fungus that typically attacks wood. More specifically, it attacks humid wood and proceeds to decompose it. Any material that contains cellulose is prone to dry rot, which is the most common cause for wood decay in buildings.
How to identify dry rot in your home
Dry rot appears on the surface of the wood and it looks like thick white cotton wool or like a big cobweb which will turn gray over time. If you notice anything that resembles this description, act quickly. Since dry rot feeds on humidity, the first step is to solve the situations that are causing the proliferation of this fungus, to make sure that it can’t develop more than it already has.
This means that the ventilation around the area should be optimized and that the wood should be protected from any contact with water. Please note that whether or not you have a problem with dry rot, your house should always be properly ventilated and protected against water ingress. If your house is well maintained, the dry rot will be less likely to spread.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons Majavamm
The dangers of dry rot
Dry rot will destroy the wood’s cellulose, leading to decay, which may cause the material to crumble. Wood that has been painted will start bloating, which will cause paint chipping. Without treatment, dry rot can even end up attacking masonry joints. Once this happens and it starts spreading too much, the only solution left is to destroy the whole building.
How to treat dry rot
If the dry rot keeps proliferating after you’ve solved the issues that were causing it, the best remaining option is to opt for is a fungicide treatment program. This treatment contains three steps. First of all, the wood must be stripped in order to be fully bare. This step serves to remove the wood that has been infected, and is therefore already dead, to leave only wood that can still be saved.
Masonry joints will also be treated with a similar technique, meaning that the joints that have been attacked by dry rot will have to be cleared out and replaced. Before the new grout is applied, the bricks must be disinfected using a flame torch.
During these treatments, which can last months, the building occupants will have to move out. Depending on the amount of contamination, several wooden structures might have to be destroyed and replaced.
Unfortunately, dry rot diagnostics rarely come at an early stage. In many cases, it’s already too late to save the building, meaning that the only solution left is to destroy the whole structure and rebuild it from scratch. That’s why it’s so important that you regularly inspect the current state of the wooden structures in your house, so you can avoid facing such an extreme situation.
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