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How to Identify Dry Rot

How much do you know about dry rot? One of the most common decay issues that can affect the wood in a house, it is also one of the most serious. Left unchecked, it can become very destructive, threatening the structural integrity of a home. Fortunately, by educating yourself about dry rot early signs, you can treat it and stop its progression through your house.

So, what is dry rot? A type of fungal timber decay known as Serpula Lacrymans, dry rot happens when wood becomes too wet, providing a hospitable environment for fungus to grow and attack the timber. Airborne fungal spores that come into contact with wood with a moisture content over 20 percent will germinate, sprouting grey root hyphae strands. These then grow into mycelium, which looks like a thick, cotton wool covering the timber. As it spreads, dry rot fungus will destroy any wood in its path, whether structural timbers, door frames, skirting boards, or flooring, sucking out the moisture and leaving the wood weakened. It can happen to any property, regardless of age, and without proper treatment it can cause the building to collapse.

How do you know if you have dry rot? Keep an eye on areas you don’t normally notice, like under the stairs or in the attic or crawl space. You might notice a damp, musty, fungal smell, or you might see timber that seems to be shrinking and warping. Sometimes, wood that is dry rotting will have cracking against the grain or will be dry, brittle, and easy to break by hand. You might also see the fungus itself, and this can look different in different stages. Dry rot spores look like red-rust, orange, and brown dust, while the hyphae will look like grey strands extending across wood, masonry, and soil. Mycelium growth looks cottony, and the fungus’s fruiting body will be mushroom like, resembling a flat, fleshy pancake.

If you can spot it in the early stages, you will be in for less dry rot repair. If dry rot has taken hold in your house, though, there are steps that must be taken to eliminate it.

  • The source of moisture must be found and remedied.
  • The affected area will then be removed, with care to get rid of every trace of fungus, even if this means removing a sizeable amount of timber.
  • Once this is accomplished, the damaged wood can be replaced.

The best way to handle dry rot fungus, though, is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Make sure to fix leaky pipes or plumbing at the first sign of dampness, and clear your gutters of debris to prevent dampness from getting into your home. Allow fresh air to circulate through your house, and use fans in the kitchen and bathroom when you are cooking, showering, or bathing. It is also highly recommended to homeowners to periodically have your paint and caulking around doors and windows inspected by a professional to ensure a nice and tight seal where water could potentially infiltrate your home.

At MightyMite Termite Services, we’ve earned a reputation as experts in California termite control, but we also know how to tackle dry rot. Because dry rot fungus damage can resemble a termite infestation, customers often call us to come out for an inspection, and we are happy to come take a look, free of charge. Then, whether you have termites or dry rot caused by fungal overgrowth, our professional exterminators can help, without introducing any toxic ingredients into your environment. Our treatment methods and products are designed to be safe for your family and have a low impact on the environment. What’s more, our industry best “no call-back rate,” combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing best practices to solve our customers’ termite and dry rot problems. For more information, email, call us today at 408.335.7053, or contact us through our website.