Is Dry Rot Worse in Cities?
23 May 2023
Dry rot is a nasty problem that can crop up in anybody’s home if the conditions are right, but the horrible fact is that some people are going to encounter it more than others.
These people are totally justified in wanting to know why their properties might be developing dry rot more often than others, and what it is in their property causing the dry rot to come back time and again. In fact, some ask a much more general question; ‘Is where my property located responsible for the dry rot?’
This is a big question, and one that needs a little bit of exploration, so here we are going to talk about whether or not dry rot can bemade worse by a city environment.
What Conditions Does Dry Rot Grow In?
If dry rot was able to pick its ideal conditions, they would be within an environment with timber that has reached a 20% moisture content level. This is the level found to be where the dry rot spores can survive, though that moisture level will need to be above 30% for the same spores to grow and spread.
Now, one element of the environment that is going to affect the growth of the dry rot spores is the temperature of the property they are in. Dry rot can survive in temperatures ranging from roughly 3ºC, up to around 40ºC. This is all well within what is regularly recorded throughout the UK, however anyone who lives in a city will be able to tell you that inner city areas often run a little warmer than the rest of the country.
For example, London is affected by the Urban Heat Island Effect – the UHI. This is where the hard surfaces throughout London such as buildings and vast uninterrupted areas of tarmac absorb much more heat than neighbouring, greener areas.
All this means that in urban areas temperatures are likely to be higher, and that may have a significant effect on the growth of dry rot.
The optimum temperature for dry rot growth is between 22ºC and 26ºC, Obviously this may seem high – summer temperature perhaps, However, remember than in urban environments the temperature can be noticeably higher all year round, so you may find your property within optimum dry rot growth temperature parameters for longer stretches of the year.
One other factor that can contribute to dry rot growth is ventilation – or the lack of it. Especially in spaces like basements, attics, or below floorboards, your timber is at risk of becoming damp thanks to trapped moisture rich air.
Will all of that in mind, it may be worth looking through your property to see if any of these factors are present or play a significant part in your property’s day to day routine.
Are Cities More Likely to Cause Dry Rot?
You might be forgiven for thinking that the pollutants within a city might be responsible for the facilitation of more mould spores travelling or growing in a city, leading to dry rot – but really this isn’t the truth.
Instead it’s more likely that the infrastructure and general environment of the city are going to contribute to the ideal conditions that allow dry rot to grow.
As mentioned, the higher temperature of the city could easily contribute to dry rot sitting within temperatures ideal for its growth.
Also, due to the nature of cities and how space within a property is utilised, it’s much more likely to find people living in basement flats, or using basement space more than they might in smaller towns or countryside properties.
Because of this it’s likely that properties in a city might develop basement or below ground cases of dry rot more frequently than properties in the countryside. Ensuring ventilation is achieved is a must, otherwise trapped condensation can quickly and easily affect any properties timber and lead to dry rot.
Finally, you have to consider a properties age and history. There are plenty of examples of older buildings in cities that still have their original features. For example, a Victorian era house might still have its original timber in place.
That same timber may well be more susceptible to the likes of dry rot simply due to its age, and in cities it is incredibly common to find properties over 50, 70, 100, or even 200 years old. In these situations we highly recommend that you have a properly accredited timber specialist look over the property’s timber just to ensure that none needs replacing, and what is installed is properly protected from the likes of dry rot, black mould, woodworm, or other conditions that may compromise their integrity.
Can Living in a City Make Dry Rot More Likely?
In short, there are several factors that can easily lead to your property developing dry rot. It isn’t the fault of the city itself, but rather the different conditions it creates. Higher levels of humidity, higher temperatures, dated buildings, and older timber all come together to create an ideal breeding ground for the spores that lead to dry rot.
Remember, your property doesn’t have to be in the city for it to suffer from dry rot. If you believe that you recognise the signs of dry rot in your property, don’t ignore them.