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What Is Wet Rot? Find Out More
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 Wet Rot 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 its 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 Wet Rot.
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.
How to identify Wet Rot
So if you are trying to identify the problem, what are you looking for? The problem can exist for a while before it is uncovered, which means it is spreading while you are unaware.
Discolouring of wood
The first sign is the discolouring of the timber. As aforementioned, the wood will turn white or brown depending on the type of wood and the fungus attacking. Left unchecked, the white coating that starts to appear will blossom into small, off-white mushrooms.
White Rot itself doesn't smell; however, the damp conditions that create the perfect breeding ground for Wet Rot will undoubtedly make a musty smell.
If you start to get that damp, musty smell, it is crucial to identify the source and any potential areas it might be affecting.
The obvious result of Wet Rot is the decay of your timber. The fungus breaks down the cells and reduces their structural integrity. It is not always easy to see on the surface, but you will start to see the effects of dampness in the paintwork of the skirting boards, window frames or floorboards etc. Damp can also create a cuboidal pattern on the wood, another telltale sign.
In the more blatant scenarios, the wood will be crumbly to touch. If you suspect you have a problem or have identified a source of dampness and would like an assessment, get in touch with the team, and our specialists will give you an expert opinion.
How does wet Rot spread?
The difference between Wet Rot and Dry Rot
People often mistake Dry Rot for Wet Rot. They are similar in that they both require damp conditions to thrive. However, the Dry Rot fungus (Serpula Lacrymans) can start germinating in just 20% moisture. Once the source of moisture is removed, Wet Rot will stop growing, while Dry Rot can continue to exist.
Dry Rot is a far greater threat to your property, is a more aggressive form of wood rot, and crucially, Dry Rot will spread via other surfaces like masonry and other brickwork.
Thankfully they are not interchangeable; Wet Rot does not turn into Dry Rot or vice versa. However, they both have a similar impact on the wood's structural integrity, rendering it unsafe.
Both can go unnoticed for prolonged periods, so the quicker you investigate any damp related issues, the better.
Contact your local Wet Rot Specialist
If you think you have a problem with Wet Rot and would like some advice or would like one of our specialist to attend to provide you with a survey then just get in touch with our office on 01732 884 535.
Alternatively, just follow the link below and fill out our online Wet Rot Survey request and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
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