Wet Rot

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    Wet Rot

    What Is Wet Rot?

    As the name suggests, Wet Rot is the natural decay of any wood in your building subjected to a sustained high moisture level.

    The persistent dampness creates the perfect conditions for the various fungi (Basidiomycetes) to thrive. There are multiple types of Wet Rot, including Fibroporia vaillantii, Phellinus spp. However, the most common is cellar fungus (Coniophora puteana).

    These fungi attack the very fibre of the timber, breaking down the cellulose or lignin in your wood, leaving it weak and exposed.

    The moisture and nutrients from the wood will ensure the fungi can grow and spread pretty rapidly as it emits spores into the atmosphere in search of their next wet timber surface.

    There are two types of Wet Rot; Brown and White.

    The fungus will appear either white or brown depending on the situation, hence the name.

    White Rot occurs when the fungus digests the lignin, which bonds the cells of the wood together.

    It also consumes the cellulose, removing the dark pigment of the wood. This alters the colour and reduces the structural integrity of the wood, leaving it soft and spongy.

    Brown Rot occurs when the fungus can’t digest the lignin and instead feeds on the wood’s cellulose and sugars, resulting in a brown-like colour.

    What Causes Wet Rot?

    As you might expect, the presence of a high level of moisture in a concentrated area is the route cause of Wet Rot. The general consensus is that moisture content between 30-60% will provide the ideal growing conditions for the fungi.

    Several sources of dampness can occur; however, it can often go unnoticed, hidden behind skirting boards, under floorboards, or beneath fixtures and fittings.

    So keep an eye out for some of the usual sources around the house. These could include a broken pipe, a leaking appliance, a damaged roof or a weakness in a bath or shower seal.

    It is crucial to identify the source of the problem as, if this is not fixed, replacing the timber will only result in a short-term solution.

    If you suspect a problem, it is always best to invite an expert to take a look. They will give you an impartial decision and almost certainly identify the root cause of the problem.

    Ensure any new timbers introduced to a building are isolated from masonry by using a physical membrane.

    • Unprotected timber in direct contact with moisture.
    • It can affect any unprotected timber and joinery, so regular maintenance is very important.
    • Insufficient ventilation below suspended floors.
    • Possible leaks from pipes and domestic appliances.
    Wet Rot

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