Wet Rot Treatment

Wet Rot Treatment

Even though it might be well hidden and covered from getting wet directly, the timber used to form the structure of your house or work premises is still vulnerable, and will benefit from some proper protection.

Wet rot is a fungus that thrives on eating timber, and loves the unprotected wood widely found in people’s homes.

It feeds on the moisture that penetrates into the timber, but its hunger isn’t confined to just wood. Because the parts of your home made from timber also meet areas covered in plaster, wallpaper and carpet – in other words, other organic materials – it loves to munch on these too.

This is why you often find that, although the original source of an area of wet rot is a small patch of wooden material, it will spread and damage other nearby areas.

While it is destructive, wet rot does not usually spread as widely as dry rot, but you should still be sure to apply a wet rot treatment urgently, because if it is ignored, it can affect a building’s structural integrity.

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Causes of Wet Rot

Wet rot starts when timber in a building’s structure is exposed to moisture, which can come from a source inside or outside that building.

The most dangerous factor is that modern building designs usually mean that this timber is concealed, by walls, ceilings or floor coverings, and so it is often impossible to detect when an area of timber is showing the early signs of wet rot.

The fungus needs a moisture content of at least 20% in the wood before it can start to attack it. That means if you find you have wet rot, you also have a significant damp problem.

Causes of such problems can be many, but most commonly, it happens when water enters a building through faults or defects in exterior fittings, such as drains, gutters, roof tiles or air bricks.

Moisture can also enter a property as a result of rising damp or condensation. The problems start when the timber is exposed to damp over a prolonged period, as this allows the wet rot spores to germinate, and creates the conditions under which it can spread more easily.

Effective Wet Rot Treatments

To be able to treat wet rot effectively, it’s vital that the root cause is found. Otherwise, existing wet rot problems easily spread to any new timbers.

Universal wood preserver products will offer some protection against wet rot and general wood rot, but in serious cases, professional treatment should be applied.

One such treatment is Lignum Fungicide and Insecticide, which, as well as wet rot and dry rot, is also effective in combating woodworm.

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Wet Rot Treatment FAQs

Wet rot is a generic name given to several types of timber-eating fungus. They thrive in buildings with large amounts of exposed, unprotected timber, and the fungus sustains itself by feeding on moisture and various nutrients contained in the timber.

There are two main types of wet rot: 

White rot: So-called because of the whiter appearance which becomes evident in certain types of wood, this results from the fungus digesting lignin, a polymer that bonds the cells of the wood together and gives it its natural stiffness.

When it eats the lignin, along with the cellulose also in the wood, the fungus sucks out the darker colours – so the wood appears colourless, and hence the name given to this type of infestation.

Brown rot: This type of rot is a result of hydrogen peroxide infecting cellulose particles in the structure of wood.

It is particularly dangerous because it can spread easily throughout not just the wood, but other areas in direct contact with affected areas.

Brown rot is also usually more obvious to the eye than white rot, because as its name suggests, it turns wood brown, but also in extreme cases, causes it to crack into small, cube-shaped pieces.

There are two big problems in identifying wet rot. The first is that it often starts in and spreads through areas of a property that you can’t easily see. 

Areas in which such problems commonly start include in a loft or attic, or underneath your floorboards.

And secondly, wet rot destroys the wood it infects from within, so sections of wood can appear sound from the outside, while the real damage is being done under the surface.

Timber affected by wet rot can become flaky and brittle. The excessive moisture which the wood has absorbed will also weaken it, and give it a sponge-like texture. Another tell-tale sign of wet rot is a darker colour to the affected area of wood compared with its natural, or treated, shade.

If wet rot develops in an area of your floorboards, you will often notice that they feel extra springy, which is a sign that the structure of the wood has started to break down.

Other tell-tale signs of wet rot include:
– A cracked appearance on the affected wood, which may crumble as you touch it when it is dry
– Small areas covered with fungus
– Shrinkage of timber in the affected area
– Damp and musty smells
– Flaking or cracking of painted surfaces. While this can be difficult to diagnose as wet rot, if you can push a screwdriver into the wood easily, that’s a sign that you have a wet rot infestation.

Unfortunately, wet rot most often develops in areas which we can’t easily see or reach. 

Very often, these areas are under our feet, and you might not even see that you have a wet rot problem there.

Wet rot is more likely to be harboured and to develop in areas that are in closest contact with sources of moisture or damp, because it needs moisture in order to develop and breed. However, the spores which cause wet rot are all around us, even in the air.

The spores which cause wet rot also have to incubate for a while before they develop into the wood-destroying fungi that they can become.

Poor ventilation in underfloor areas is also a prime cause of wet rot, so if you have a blocked drain or kitchen waste water grate, these need to be cleared quickly.

Remedying a problem area of wet rot doesn’t just involve fixing the damage it has caused – the source of the water ingress must also be tackled and fixed, to prevent the situation from happening again.

Ultimately, the affected wood will most likely have to be replaced, and the new wood is treated with an effective fungicide and insecticide.

Smaller areas can be cut out and replaced by a new, fungicidally-treated piece of timber, but wider areas of infestation will need to be completely relaid.

Only when the source of the moisture has been eliminated can effective treatment be given, either through the application of a fungicide, or replacement of affected timbers with suitably treated new ones.

If you have spotted any of the signs detailed above, get in touch with us at Watertight Homes straight away, and we will arrange for a member of our survey team to visit you and prepare a report recommending your next steps.

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