Serious case of dry rot fungi beginning to spread

What Surfaces Can Dry Rot Affect?

24 October 2023

Dry rot is a nasty problem, something no one wants to discover in their property and definitely not something you want to let spread through your home unchecked.

One of the questions plenty of people have about dry rot is what exactly can it do to your property, and what surfaces it can infest if given the opportunity? So, to help you find out exactly what surfaces might get ruined by an onset of dry rot, and why, we have written this article.

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Why Is My Property Developing Dry Rot?

Serious case of dry rot fungi beginning to spread

To understand why a property might see an infestation of dry rot begin to develop, you need to know the conditions that the dry rot fungus thrives on. Dry rot, being a fungus, needs to feed just like any other flora, and just like any other flora dry rot feeds on moisture.

So, if it follows that if your property has a damp or condensation problem, it may well develop a dry rot problem. Damp, be it rising damp, penetrating damp, or condensation based, is the presence of excess moisture in your property where it shouldn’t be.

So, if for example you have rising damp, then you are going to find that the moisture rising up into your properties walls may transfer to your properties skirting boards, filling that particular timber with an excess of moisture.

This is precisely the kind of environment that dry rot thrives in.

Oversaturated timber is a breeding ground for dry rot. Once the moisture content of the timber reaches 20% it becomes perfect for dry rot growth.

First, the fungal spores are carried into the property and land onto the compromised timber via air currents. Then, once the spores have landed, they begin to grow, first into hyphae which can be considered the ‘root’ of the rot, then into mycelium which allows the rot to spread and feed on other timber, and then into sporophore, which is the fruiting body of the dry rot which releases new spores so that the dry rot can begin the process all over again.

Once the dry rot has grown to its hyphae stage this is when it begins to feed. As we mentioned before, dry rot does feed on the moisture present within timber, but to get a little more in depth the fungus actually thrives on cellulose, found within the moisture in the timber. The dry rot will produce an enzyme to split the cellulose from other enzymes found in the moisture. This then leads to the timber becoming dry and of an unsound state.

Why do we mention this? Because the presence of the cellulose within the moisture is what dictates if dry rot can grow.

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Can Dry Rot Affect My Carpets or Fabrics?

Image depicting how to detect signs of dry rot

The question that most people want to know the answer to when it come to dry rot is how can affect fabrics and furniture in a property where an infestation is spreading?

The answer, unfortunately, is a little bit complicated.

As we mentioned before, it’s the cellulose within the moisture that the dry rot is after. So, the two main prerequisites for finding dry rot within fabric, carpet, and other softer textiles become the presence of damp, and the materials themselves being cellulose based, or containing cellulose.

If you do own a carpet (for example) that contains cellulose within its composition, and that carpet is attached to the same wall featuring the rising damp from the example before then its incredibly likely, in fact nigh certain, that the dry rot will make the jump from the skirting board to the carpet.

It might happen because the hyphae or mycelium physically grows and spreads itself onto a new platform or surface physically, a process you will most likely be able to see as the hyphae and mycelium stages of dry rot are rather noticeable and nasty.

Or, it could be that the dry rot releases its spores, and these tiny spores spread through the property and come to land on the damp, cellulose rich carpet. If this happens, then the dry rot life cycle will start again, with new fungal life beginning from spore in your carpet rather than your timber.

That only covers the fabric elements of your home though. What about your furniture?

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Can Dry Rot Affect My Furniture?

Closeup of wet rot decay and damage to a skirting board within a property

You may have already guessed that the question of whether your furniture can be affected by dry rot hinges on the composition of the furniture itself, whether its damp, and whether it is cellulose based.

Most furniture may not be affected by the consistent damp that feeds dry rot, so in most eventualities even if the furniture is cellulose based, it would still need a moisture content of around 30% for widespread dry rot growth.

However, there are instances where your furniture could be affected by dry rot. For example, take kitchen counter tops. A wooden counter top that is in close proximity to a leaky tap, kettle, or pipe, could be an ideal place in which dry rot could grow if the source of the moisture is not tackled.

It might not even be a steady stream of water causing the damp either. You may well find that condensation heavy rooms provide enough moisture to cause damp problems, so you might find in condensation heavy rooms (typically your kitchen, your bathroom, or your bedroom) your furniture is more prone to dry rot than in other rooms.

Take your bathroom. Lets say you have a wooden cabinet used for storage, and your bathroom routinely mists up after a shower, a bath, or even just using the sink. Over time, this condensation is going to permeate the timber making up that cabinet, and make it the ideal place for dry rot spores to land and grow.

In these situations you may well find that your furniture is compromised and vulnerable to dry rot growth, but if you are unsure it can be incredibly beneficial to seek the advice of an expert.

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How Often Will Dry Rot Release Spores?

If you do suspect that your property may be more vulnerable to the spread of dry rot, then you might be concerned about the frequency at which dry rot fungus releases new spores so that the infestation can spread.

The bad news is that the answer is a lot. Typically, the spores of dry rot take around ten days to germinate and begin to grow, and once they reach the sporophore stage of their life cycle, they can release spores for days on end.

This problem compounds too.

The more spores released, the more dry rot is likely to grow, the more mycelium created, leading to more spores being released. This can have quite a noticeable and nasty effect, leaving surfaces covered in orange, dust-like spores.

Obviously, this is not ideal. Plus, with the fast growing nature of dry rot, you never know just how quick or far a new infestation will spread – or if the spores will find purchase in your property, and begin a new infestation on a previously uncompromised section of timber.

For fast, effective, and lasting results when it comes to dry rot, we always recommend that you engage the services of a PCA accredited surveyor. A survey will be able to highlight the extent of the dry rot problem, and also provide you with a report detailing the next steps that will need to be taken to eliminate the dry rot from your property.

If you would like to book a survey with Timberwise, you can call our team directly on 0880 288 8660, or fill in the form below and we will be in touch.