What is Dry Rot and How Can You Prevent it?

Jan 01, 2011
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What is Dry Rot?

Dry rot, also known as brown rot, can ruin any type of wood anywhere in or out of your home. Dry rot is the decay of wood in any wooden structures caused by certain fungi. The fungi is almost always caused by exposure to excess moisture and can usually be prevented. When dry rot occurs, the fungus breaks down the parts of the wood that give the wood strength and stiffness. Weakened wood is typically somewhat dry, which is where the this problem got it’s name from - dry rot. Weakened wood also may appear brittle and may have a blocky appearance. Dry rot will only affect timber that is damp, typically affecting timber with a moisture content in excess of 20%. For this reason, removing the source of moisture should form the core of any dry rot eradication strategy. Read below for more tips for prevention dry rot.

How Does Dry Rot Spread?

The dry rot fungus transports water from wet areas to dry areas allowing the fungus to grow in and infect dry wood. If not stopped the dry rot fungus will weaken the wood to a point that it could disintegrate.

How to Identify Dry Rot

  • Initially the fungus looks like cotton wool, and it may have water droplets on the surface.
    • Look for sunken or shrunken wood
      • Darkening and cracks in the wood structure
        • Look for affected wood that has flat "skin-like" growth. The skin may have a mushroom-like growth with shades of silver and gray. It may be patterned with patches of light purple or yellow and peels easily. (source: ehow.com)

        Treatment for Dry Rot

        There are epoxy treatments available that kill rot by filling in the channels of the damaged wood, killing the rot and restoring structural integrity. Commercial anti-freeze is also very effective at preventing dry rot formation as well as killing the fungus. Certain copper compounds, such as copper naphthenate, are available as a brushable solution and are frequently used when dry-rot damage is repaired by splicing in new wood; after removal of bulk rotten wood the remaining original surface is saturated with such a compound (typically green in color) before application of the new wood. (source: Wikipedia)

        Dry Rot Prevention

        Preventing dry rot is pretty simple. First, do your best to limit exposure of wood in your home to moisture. Take proper preventative steps to protect your wood by doing the following:

        • Siding - Have wood siding sealed properly and installed by a skilled siding installer.
        • Roofing - Have our roof checked once a year to identify and prevent and potential water damage, mold or dry rot.
        • Plumbing - Dry rot is commonly caused by plumbing leaks. Plumbing leaks can be prevented by checking underneath vanities and cabinets for leaks and checking around toilets for leaks as well.
        • Ventilation - Make sure your bathrooms, attic, and kitchen have proper ventilation. If not your house could develop lots of dry rot from too much moisture in the air.
        • Decks-Have your deck properly sealed.
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