Dry rot is a sign of excess moisture in your home. This process of decay is not only an aesthetic problem; the resulting fungal growth destroys components in wooden structures that provide strength and resilience.
In the following paragraphs, you will learn what dry rot is, its typical signs, and how to deal with it in your greater Dallas/Fort Worth area home.
What is dry rot?
Dry rot is wood decay that can destroy wooden structures in your home. It is caused by fungi and sometimes called brown rot.
Wood relies on hemicellulose and cellulose to maintain its structural integrity and strength. However, dry rot causing fungi breaks down these molecules. As a result, this process leaves the wood brittle and weak. Long-term decay can lead to the total disintegration of the affected wood.
Dry rot is actually a misnomer because it affects the wood in your home that has become damp. The moisture content tends to exceed 20% before the decay starts affecting the timber. Common reasons for dry rot include:
- General high humidity in the area
- High moisture content in the particular building
How does this fungus spread?
The dry rot fungus produces spores that travel through the air. The germination begins after landing on wood that has high moisture content. For sustained growth, these spores also need oxygen and warm temperatures. The ideal growth temperature is around 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
The fungus is resilient—dry rot can grow 9–10 feet in a year. There have even been cases of this fungus penetrating cracks inside a brick wall! Note that as long as the moisture content is high enough, dry rot can start weakening wooden surfaces.
What are the signs of dry rot?
The most common places for spotting dry rot damage include roofs, spaces under the floors, and cellars. Decaying wood looks brittle, crumbly, and cracked. The colors turn darker. Often, the shade looks abnormally brown.
The fungus itself resembles cotton wool. If your home is humid enough, you will see tiny water droplets on its surface. The decayed wood may have patches of fungus growth that look like flat gray mushrooms. These areas may also show speckles of yellow, orange, and purple.
There are cases when people confuse dry rot with damage from insects, such as termites or carpenter ants. Not seeing any live insects is one way to rule out pest damage.
Why is dry rot a big issue?
The fungus eats and digests the fiber content that makes wood beams and timbers strong. When the rot has eaten the cellulose compounds away, the damaged wood looks crumbly and dry. That is where its name comes from.
Your home could start suffering from structural problems due to dry rot. The wood-destroying fungus can affect critical components that offer structural integrity to your home:
- Floor and ceiling joists
How do you get rid of dry rot?
Your main goal should be to find out the underlying reason for excess moisture.
The fungus will not grow on dry wood. There is no point in taking any other steps before solving the moisture issue. Otherwise, the fungal growth will just return.
There are many treatment options for dry rot once you have solved the underlying problems. You can use commercial antifreeze to destroy the fungus and avoid any further growth. People use epoxy treatment to fill in holes within the damaged wood as well. In this way, the whole structure acquires more resilience.
How can you avoid dry rot in your home?
Every dry rot situation comes with unique circumstances. Nevertheless, you can still follow general guidelines to lower the risk of facing dry rot issues.
- Insulation: Does your home have proper insulation? When the insulation is improperly installed, dry rot can spread much more easily.
- Roofing: Check your roof at least once a year. See if there are signs of mold, water damage, or dry rot.
- Ventilation: This is one of the most typical reasons for dry rot. Poor ventilation in a pier and beam crawl space can interact with other risk factors, resulting in a serious case of dry rot.
- Gutters: Ensure that your rain gutters properly direct the water away from the building. Leaky or improperly installed gutters allow rainwater to affect your home’s foundation and walls.
- Sprinklers: Ensure sprinklers have correct positioning. Lawn sprinklers will spray a bit of water on your home’s external covering when placed the wrong way. The moisture levels will soar when all of this extra water hits the house on a regular basis.
- Leaks: Always check your home for leaks. Some of these might be hidden from plain sight. Any leaks, even the smallest ones, contribute to higher humidity in your home, which is the main risk factor for rotting.
- Crawl space: In a pier and beam house your crawl space may contribute to excessive moisture in your home. Check for any exposed dirt flooring or standing pools of water. Confirm that the crawl space has proper drainage.
What are the typical mistakes when dealing with dry rot?
This fungus can be hard to exterminate. Let’s take a look at some of the usual mistakes you should avoid when removing dry rot from your home:
- Replacing dry rotted wood with untreated materials
After you have removed all the dry rotted and dampened wood, you should use fungicide on the replacement materials. Also, apply an antifungal solution to any remaining structures and joints. Skipping this procedure greatly raises the risk of another fungal takeover.
- Not removing the dry-rotted wood completely
You should remove all the wood and materials that got damp. The rot travels through the various materials and it might be difficult to spot where it stopped moving. Otherwise, the dry rot fungus can return quickly and damage the new timber.
- Ignoring the moisture issue
Excess moisture is a requirement for fungal growth. Removing and replacing the dry rotted materials is not enough. You should find out the underlying reason for dampening. It is vital to eliminate the cause of dampening before replacing the affected structures.
The bottom line: what is dry rot and how do you avoid it in your home?
Dry rot is a fungus that weakens and destroys wood. When wooden structures in your home feel damp to the touch, it is a good indicator that dry rot fungus could easily grow on these surfaces.
The best way to avoid dry rot in your home is to prevent excess moisture. When you already have a dry rot problem, follow all the precautionary steps to avoid the return of fungal growth.
For any further questions you may have, contact Granite Foundation Repair at 214-865-8609.