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What causes wet rot, and how should I deal with it?

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Wet rot is caused by either the fungi Coniophora puteana (black) or the fungi Fibroporia vaillantii (white). Wet rot flourishes in damp conditions, and as a result it's commonly found in bathrooms, basements and outbuildings. Generally speaking, wet rot is not as destructive as dry hot, however left untreated it can cause structural damage to a building.

Wet rot is the most common type of rot in timber and in plasterboard - more so than dry rot, which is caused by woodworm.

How wet rot forms

In order for the fungi responsible for wet rot to form, a regular source of moisture ingress is required. Bathrooms, kitchens, basements and outbuildings provide the perfect environment, although wet rot won't usually occur within well-kept buildings. It's often leaks that cause wet rot, so regular checks of your gutters, fascia and soffits, stone pointing and plumbing systems are recommended.

Identifying wet rot

Tell-tale signs of wet role include:

  • Damp or wet patches on timber or plasterboard. These will appear darker than other parts, due to being wet. If you prod these patches with a screwdriver or a knife, then you will find the material soft and your instrument may penetrate it.
  • Dark strands forming on the surface of the affected material. This is common of Coniophora puteana fungi. The strands will be a mixture of brown, black or grey.
  • White strands forming on the surface of the affected material. This is common of Fibroporia vaillantii fungi and they may look like very old, brilliant white cobwebs.
  • Damp musty smell. Some cases of wet rot are smelt before they are seen, and the smell can best be described as like an old, rotten comic book.

Fixing wet rot

If you have wet rot, the good news is wet rot can be treated, usually at a stage before any serious damage has occurred.

The first step to wet rot treatment is to stop the source of water ingress. Once this is achieved, wet rot will die on its own, as soon as the affected areas dry out. However, wet rot may have caused structural damage to the affected areas, so removing the timber or plasterboard and replacing it is advisable. This should be treated against germination and all areas that harvested wet rot fungi should be treated with an anti-fungal spray.

It is also advisable that you treat any timber previously exposed to water ingress - but not affected by wet rot - with a protectant, to prevent the formation of dry rot.

Need wet rot treatment in Berkshire? Give us a call on 01635 250 852 today.

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