Wet Rot Treatment

Wet Rot Treatment

Even though it might be well hidden and protected from direct contact with moisture, the timber used to form the structure of your house or work premises may still be vulnerable. Sufficient damp proofing is crucial.

Wet rot is a fungus that thrives on eating timber, and loves the unprotected wood found widely in people’s homes.
It feeds on the moisture that penetrates into the timber, but its hunger isn’t confined to just wood. Sections of the timber found in your home connect to plaster, wallpaper and carpet – in other words, other organic materials – and 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 as soon as possible. If it is ignored it may affect the property’s structural integrity. DIY treatments are often unreliable, so get in touch with us today for expert advice.

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Causes of Wet Rot

Wet rot begins when timber in a building's structure is exposed to moisture, which can come from a source inside or outside the building.

In modern buildings, timber is concealed by walls, ceilings or floor coverings. It is often impossible, therefore, to detect when an area of timber is showing early signs of wet rot.
Before a fungus can begin to attack, the wood must have a water content of at least 20%. If wet rot is detected, you will also have a significant damp problem.

Wet rot may have a number of causes. Most commonly, though, wet rot occurs when water enters a building through faults or defects in exterior fittings, such as drains, gutters, roof tiles or air bricks.

Moisture may also enter a property as a result of rising damp or condensation. These problems start when the timber is exposed to damp over a prolonged period, as this allows the wet rot spores to germinate, creating 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 are useful, offering limited protection against wet rot and general wood rot. In more serious cases, however, professional treatment should be applied. One such treatment is Lignum Fungicide and Insecticide, which is effective against fungal growth, wet rot, dry rot and woodworm. We also offer dry rot treatment.

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Wet Rot Treatment FAQs

Wet rot is a generic name given to several types of timber-eating fungus. Timber-eating fungi thrive in buildings with large amounts of exposed, unprotected timber. Cellar fungus is particularly common. 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: White rot is pale in colour, resulting from the digestion of lignin. Lignin is a polymer that binds the cells of the wood together.

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, hence the name “white rot”.

Brown rot: This type of rot results from hydrogen peroxide, which infects cellulose particles in the structure of the wood.

Brown rot is particularly dangerous, as it spreads easily through both wood and other organic materials in contact with the infected areas.

More obvious than white rot, brown rot turns wood brown and may, in extreme cases, cause the wood to crack into small, cube-shaped pieces.

There are two big problems in identifying wet rot. Firstly, wet rot often starts in and spreads through areas of a property hidden from view. Wet rot infestations commonly begin in lofts, attics and under floorboards. 

Secondly, wet rot destroys the wood it infects from within, so sections of wood may appear sound from the outside, but significant damage is being done under the surface.

Timber affected by wet rot may become flaky and brittle. The excessive moisture which the wood has absorbed will also weaken it, resulting in a sponge-like texture. Another tell-tale sign of wet rot is when the affected area becomes darker.  

If your floorboards develop wet rot, you may notice that they feel springy – this is a telltale sign that the structural integrity of the wood has started to deteriorate. If left untreated, rot may cause structural damage. 

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. Try gently pushing a screwdriver into the wood. If the screwdriver sinks, you may have wet rot. 

What areas are most commonly affected by wet rot?

Unfortunately, wet rot most often develops in areas which we can’t easily see or reach. Wet rot may develop in your attic, loft or floorboards. It is more likely to develop in areas in close proximity to sources of moisture. High moisture content is required for the fungus to develop and breed. 

The spores that cause wet rot are all around us. These spores must incubate prior to developing into wood-destroying fungus. 

Poor ventilation in underfloor areas is also a primary cause of wet rot. Blocked drains and kitchen wastewater grates must be cleared quickly. 

Remedial measures don't just involve fixing the damage it has caused – the source of the damp must be identified and resolved to prevent reoccurrence.

The affected wood will most probably have to be replaced, and the new wood treated with an effective fungicide and insecticide.

Smaller areas can be removed and replaced by new, fungicidally-treated pieces of timber, but wider areas of infestation will need to be completely relaid.

Only when the source of moisture has been eliminated can effective treatment begin, 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 immediately, and we will arrange for a member of our survey team to visit you. We’ll create a comprehensive, jargon-free report detailing your next steps.
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