Dry rot hidden behind an air brick

Dry Rot treatment for a homeowner in Oxford

3 July 2019

Always be aware that with a mix of rain and high temperatures throughout this coming summer, it will provide the right conditions for wet rot and dry rot to flourish. Undetected, undisturbed, and unnoticed, the notorious dry rot is continuing to creep into our nation’s homes!  With over fifty years of experience within the property preservation industry, our team of surveyors have unearthed dry rot in all sorts of unimaginable areas. Below we have an example of how dry rot can lurk behind the scenes in areas of a property.

Timberwise were called out to a property in Oxford after the home-owner had noticed what they believed to be a form of wood decay growing on his kitchen units. With a trained eye, the Timberwise team knew from looking at the characteristics of the decay, it was clear that there was definitely a dry rot outbreak present.  But, it wasn’t until Timberwise’s asked the customers builder to remove an air brick that the full extent of the dry rot outbreak was revealed.

How do I identify dry rot?

Behind the air brick, lay a large fruiting body is otherwise known as a sporophore. These fruiting bodies can appear in an array of shapes and sizes dependent on the conditions present. Most of these round-shaped fruiting bodies are a rusty deep red colour (the spores) with the outer parts of this growth being a much lighter white colour. The spore dust from these fruiting bodies can be the first indication to a property owner that dry rot is present and a fruiting body is lurking somewhere nearby.

What causes dry rot?

Before any treatments can be made to the affected area it is always important to identify the cause of the dry rot. In this case, it was apparent that the lack of ventilation caused by the use of hardwood to block the air brick was a major contributing factor to the growth of dry rot. This, combined with surrounding damp cavity wall insulation had caused moisture to linger providing an ideal environment for dry rot spores to germinate. Dry rot germinates from spores that have perfect living conditions for growth – such as damp, humid areas with a plentiful food source of cellulose or lignin within the timber.

Did you know?

In 2017, 897,000 homes  had problems with damp. Damp problems were more prevalent in the rented sectors. These properties were, on average, older and therefore more likely to have defects to the damp proof course, roof covering, gutters, or downpipes, which could lead to problems with rising or penetrating damp affecting at least one room in the property.*

What if the customer had ignored the problem?

If dry rot is discovered or even just suspected, it is important to act quickly before the problem escalates throughout the property. Until further investigated it’s not obvious how serious or extensive the outbreak is. Dry rot can spread substantially in areas out of sight, such as concrete floors, brick walls and under floorboards.

Are you concerned about the possibility of a dry rot outbreak in your property?

Dry rot must be treated by a specialist, when looking for local tradesmen be sure to check if they are members of the Property Care Association (PCA), Which? Trusted Traders and checkatrade. That way you can be certain they have been vetted and monitored and to meet the standards of trading.

As members of the Property Care Association (PCA), they will be CSTDB qualified. Holding the Certificated Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) qualification means Surveyors have the knowledge and expertise to diagnoses timber infestation/decay and dampness in buildings. By choosing a CTSDB qualified damp and timber specialist member you can feel rest assured you are in safe hands.

Do not hesitate to give Timberwise a call on 0800 288 8660, or alternatively request a dry rot survey online. Our experienced and certificated surveyors will locate your problem, judge its severity and produce a suitable and tailored solution to ensure your property is free from danger and protected for the future. The report will identify what risk your property is at, and what measures you can put in place to help prevent any future outbreaks from occurring.

Originally published 8th December 2015, updated 2nd July 2019. 

*English Housing Survey – Headline Report, 2017-18