Causes of Dry Rot

Dry rot is a dangerous problem which affects properties throughout the United Kingdom. It is triggered by specific circumstances present in many types of buildings. Dry rot development requires a spore with the right amount of oxygen, a certain temperature, as well as sources of food and water.

Due to the similarities of the damage caused, dry rot can often be mistaken for the presence of a carpenter ants or termites. Carpenter ants make specific cavities in wood which can’t occur with dry rot. Subterranean damage caused by termites can generally look like dry rot, but what makes it different is the obvious presence of live termites, termite galleries, as well as keeping the wood in a wetter state.

What is known today as Dry Rot comes from the Latin name Merulius Lacrymans, and from what is known, it has been present since the 18th century. The Latin name means “tears of the Blackbird”. It was believed that blackbirds were spreading fungus and fungi. Damp conditions and high air humidity are perfect for dry rot, which is why it is often hard to detect, since it occurs in small, closed, out of sight areas around the property. For example behind door casings, under the floor, plaster voids, cellars etc. Another bad characteristic of dry rot is its ability to spread undetected without showing visible symptoms for months, or even years. Dry rot can make serious damage, which is why it’s essential to start treating it the moment it’s detected. Your first course of action when suspecting dry rot is to have a professional dry rot survey carried out as soon as possible.

How to Identify Dry Rot

As mentioned, dry rot spreads in hidden areas. It can cause a serious headache, especially because it appears and spreads through paths that are not visible to you. Provided the appropriate conditions are met, dry rot can occur in literally any part of the property that has timber in it.

So what can you do to detect it?

There are four stages in the Dry Rot Life Cycle, and they all have specific symptoms that can help you spot it. The four stages are:

Mycelium Growth

Mycelium has the appearance of a white/grey cotton wool-like texture. In its search for new food sources, mycelium can travel through different kinds of materials found in your home, including wood, very quickly. This is why it’s extremely important to be able to spot it in its early stages before the damage becomes big.

Fruiting Body (or Sporophore)

Visually, this dry rot stage can be theoretically easily detected because it looks like a pizza. However, they can appear in different shapes, not only circular, and in different sizes, depending on the progression. Fruiting bodies generally have rusty red colour in the middle, with the outer parts in white. They also release specific spore dust which should be a clear signal of dry rot somewhere in the surrounding area.

Affected Wood

When the affected wood is actually visible, dry rot becomes easier to diagnose. Dry rot dries out the wood, sucking all the moisture out of it. The affected wood will then be extremely dry and shrunken. It will also be very brittle and disintegrate easily when touched. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if the wood is of great structural importance to the property.

Dry Rot Smell

If the affected wood is not visible, the best way to identify dry rot is through its smell. It usually has a distinct damp, musty smell. The smell is not always a guarantee of dry rot, but it can point to damp issues.

Are You Experiencing Dry Rot Issues?

If you suspect having dry rot problems after reading about the symptoms and causes you should seek professional help right away. Southern Damp Proofing specializes in dry rot identification and treatment and can carry out a survey of your property. Visit the website for more information.

How to Treat Dry Rot?

Southern Damp Proofing is an experienced company in treating and eliminating dry rot problems. Contact us at your convenience to have your property checked.

Dry Rot Survey

Our company is regulated by the PCA and Trustmark, so you can be sure we are capable of providing expert service.

How to Contact Dry Rot Experts

For possible dry rot issues, contact Southern Damp Proofing immediately via the website, or call 020 7971 1329. You can also have us call you by using our contact form on the website.


Frequently Asked Questions – Dry Rot Causes

How Fast Can Dry Rot Grow?
The speed at which dry rot spreads depends on the environmental conditions. There are five factors: dry rot spores, moisture, oxygen, temperature and food source. The more factors involved, the faster the infestation. No two examples of dry rot outbreak are identical. The best course of action to determine the gravity of a dry rot problem is to have an expert perform a thorough survey of your property.
Does Dry Rot Affect New or Old Properties?
Dry rot can occur in all types of homes, regardless of when they were built. If there is condensation building up in a property, whether it is a house, an apartment building or a country home, there is the risk of damp which can lead to dry rot.

Environmental conditions vary from property to property. The highest rate at which dry rot can spread is 300mm per month. Dry rot requires the building timber to be damp and moist. So, if you keep damp away, you keep dry rot even further.

Why Does Dry Rot Occur?
Dry rot occurs when a particular area of the property is damp for a prolonged time and the moisture level is above 20%. Some of the problems leading to dry rot are:

  • Rising Damp
  • Penetrating Damp
  • Condensation
  • Plumbing leaks