Do you have a water leak inside your house?
Look for the root cause of the leak immediately. Wood rot can spread without you noticing and can become a major problem in your home if not detected and treated early.
Rotten wood can easily spread fungal spores to your uninfected and healthy wooden interiors. Soft, brittle and crumbly wood are the symptoms of wood rot. Sometimes, wood may be discolored. If you detect cracks in the paints or sealants coated on the wood, then it is wood rot. Wooden window frames tend to hold water remains and so door trim, window trim, window sills and window frames must be checked for rot. Exterior doors get lots of damage due to usage as well as rain water. Interior spaces around water heaters, dishwashers, toilets, bathtubs, bottom of sink cabinets etc must be visited for a thorough checking. When there is a leak found in these areas, then it is more prone for fungal growth. Wooden Decks and roofs can also be checked once for a year to avoid mishaps. Rain water accumulation must be avoided by maintaining proper gutters, downpipes and drainage. Overhangs above windows and doors can be added. Utilizing composite building materials without wooden fibers for construction is advised as a preventive measure.
What causes Dry Rot?
Brown Rot or Dry Rot as it is more commonly known happens when there is too much moisture in the wood and it eventually breaks down and becomes decayed, brittle and dry.
It is vital to reduce moisture content or eliminate excess moisture in your home to avoid the formation of fungal growth by leaving leaking pipes or wet window sills. It will eventually affect your health so it is imperative the leak gets attended to.
Recognising Dry Rot
Indications of dry rot include the wood turning dry, brown, brittle and sometimes discoloured. Wood shrinks, darkens and cracks first of all. Silky grey skin called hyphae or strands (yellow or lilac) develop under less humid conditions which can be peeled off. Then white, fluffy cotton wool mycelium develops and tear drops can be seen. Finally, fruiting bodies with soft and fleshy surfaces with spores develop. Spore dust is often seen above fruiting bodies with a pungent damp odour and active decaying activity.
Treatment of Dry Rot
Dry rot can be controlled by inhibiting the growth of fungus using fungicides like borate during construction or repair. Fused borate under wet conditions acts as a wood preservative. Dampness inducing conditions such as rising damp, dampness penetration through walls, condensation and wetting of basements must be controlled as they affect the timbers’ moisture level and induce decay.
First of all check for dry rot, discard of any damaged wood then treat the remaining timber with dry rot resistant coat solution and borate wood preservatives with glycol base. Epoxy treatments include the filling in of the channels of damaged wood to kill the rot and to restore the structural integrity and strength of the wood.
With expert advice, antifreeze using ethylene glycol can be used to prevent and kill dry rot. Dry rot can bring about a wide range of destruction to wood in the household. By drying out the moisture in the wood, the fungus gets killed too. Preventive methods and remedial treatments are then used to keep dry rot at bay.
What causes Wet Rot?
Wet rot is another wood decaying fungal problem that is caused by high moisture content. When there is excess moisture retained in the wood or timber, wood starts to decay. The cellulose and lignin of wood gets digested by fungal growth and the wood becomes useless and damaged. The spores thrive in the moist environment to form strands after which the vegetative mycelium is produced and further developed into fleshy fruiting body that contains spores in numerous quantities.
Wet rot differs from dry rot in many categories. Dry rot is caused by single species and classed as brown rot. Wet rot is caused by a group of many species of wood rots and can be subdivided into brown rots and white rots. Dry rots thrive in moisture content above 20%, but wet rot can thrive and spread only under enormously excess moisture content. When the moisture retained starts reducing to 20%, they fail to survive. Wet rot has to be close to the source of moisture to grow whereas dry rot does not. Dry rot is more destructive than wet rot but they both minimize the strength and integrity of the wood.
Recognising Wet Rot
Usually wet rot can be identified by a damp musty smell accompanied with cracking, softening, discolouring and distorting of timber.
The most common brown wet rot is Coniophora puteana and commonly called Cellar Fungus. The mycelium shows dark brown sheet with brown threads and cream coloured margins. Lumpy fruiting bodies produce spores which again repeat the cycle of feeding and proliferating and attack adjacent masonry. Wood shrinks and cracks becoming soft and brittle and taking on a darker colour. The most common white wet rot is Phellinus contiguus. The mycelium shows up as light brown sheets and brown threads appear from rotting wood. The fruiting body is brown and has corrugated appearance and is capable of attacking external masonry. Digested wood shows up as coarse with a fibrous appearance and lighter in colour.
Treatment of Wet Rot
Infected wood must be thrown out along with stopping the source of the moisture. Wood preservatives such as borate can then be sprayed or brushed onto the uninfected timber. New timber is then sprayed with Borate before being used.
How to identify signs of Woodworm
The term woodworm indicates and relates to the larval stage of many species of wood boring insects that thrive in the timber and multiply. The adult beetle lays its eggs on the cracks and crevices of the wood surface. The eggs hatch into hungry larvae which bore into the wood and feed on the cellulose of wood for many continuous years after which they travel to the surface of the wood by creating chambers and form pupa and turn into adult beetles and wood boring insects that tunnel to exit the wood. This life cycle continues unless it is found and eradicated. Woodworm inside the timber causes damage and loss of structural integrity. Holes and tunnels make the timber weaken and decay.
Most common woodworms are the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum) and Death Watch Beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum). Tell tale signs to identify woodworm infestation include:
- Small round holes in the woodwork
- Fine powdery dust around these holes known as frass
- Crumbly edges to boards and joints
- Adult beetles emerging from the holes or present around the house
- Dead beetles
- Egg and creamy-white coloured woodworm larvae
- Tunnels and chambers often hard to see
Woodworm infestation can be identified into type and class only by the professionals as varied woodworms like varied timber to feed upon and grow.
Treatment of Woodworm
Woodworm damage can be rectified by an expert team.
Accurate techniques involving medications for preservation and killing of the wood worms helps to protect the healthy woodwork of the household and other buildings.