How To Identify Dry Rot

What does dry rot look like and what can you do as a homeowner to identify the problem? Dry rot becomes problematic and difficult for property owners when a dry rot outbreak progresses in non-visible areas of your property such as your stairs, loft, attic or flooring.

Dry rot can be found in any part of your home where there is timber so long as the environmental conditions exist for the outbreak.

Graham Malpass

Accredited to

Graham Malpass

Senior Surveyor CSRT CSSW
North West

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The Dry Rot Life Cycle consists of four main stages, each with their own tell­tale signs that can help you identify a dry rot outbreak.

Mycelium Growth

Mycelium Growth

Mycelium growth will appear as a white or grey cotton wool like substance. Mycelium has the ability to spread extensively across numerous building materials in search for a new source of food - in this case, wood.

Fruiting Body

Fruiting body (Sporophore)

The fruiting body or sporophore is easily identifiable with its ‘pizza-like’ appearance. These fruiting bodies can appear in an array of shapes and sizes dependant 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.

Affected Timber

Affected Wood

As dry rot’s sole purpose is to dry out and remove moisture from the ood, a good indicator of a dry rot issue is the affected wood itself. This will look dried out and will have therefore shrunk as a result. This wood will most likely be brittle and warped and the grain of the wood will have cuboidal shaped cracking features.

How To Identify Dry Rot

Dry Rot Smell

The most common symptom of dry rot, even without physically seeing the outbreak, are the presence of a damp, musty and fungal smell. The smell may not necessarily mean there is a dry rot issue, but would certainly indicate an issue with dampness; however dampness can often lead to dry rot depending on the extent of the issue.

Wet Rot -vs-Dry Rot

Dry Rot vs Wet Rot

The indications of a dry rot attack share close similarities to those of a wet rot outbreak, often leaving property owners uncertain and confused. The correct identification is essential as a dry rot attack tends to have far more serious consequences. Here we will explain the main differences between dry rot and wet rot.

Dry Rot Vs Wet Rot

Concerns with Dry Rot and Wet Rot

Firstly, there is only one true type of dry rot, in contrast to wet rot where there are many variants! The main difference between dry rot and wet rot, however, is the amount of growth of mycelium and the ability of the fungus to spread onto building materials. Dry rot has the ability to spread over relatively dry timber and other building materials in a property to find a source of food (in this case damp wood), Wet rot, on the other hand, cannot spread in this manner. The spread of a wet rot outbreak is confined to its moisture source, meaning it cannot progress throughout a property unless it has direct contact with moisture.

If you are concerned about the possibility of a dry rot outbreak in your property, or to request adry rot survey, do not hesitate to get in touch with Timberwise.