Be vigilant for wet and dry rot

A national trade body is urging householders to be vigilant to the issue of wet and dry rot.

Wet and dry rot thrives in damp and humid conditions and this year’s weather pattern – comprising of a short winter, a deluge of rain in spring and a warm summer – provides the perfect conditions for it to take hold.

According to the Property Care Association (PCA) issues with dampness can impact on a property’s structure if not properly addressed.

But the trade body says that specialist investigations to establish the exact cause are key to limiting damage and ensuring localised, non-invasive treatment is carried out.

Steve Hodgson, Chief Executive of the PCA said: “The fact this year’s weather pattern is similar to that we encountered last year means wet and dry rot is being given an extended window to thrive.

“Wet and dry rot is caused by excess moisture and broken roof tiles, blocked gutters and leaking water pipes, as well as poor ventilation of timber surfaces, can all be sources of excess moisture and dampness in buildings.

“Usually basic property maintenance is all that is required to dry out the affected timber, but if the issue is a longer-term one, then further problems could be present.

“If the building fabric is allowed to remain wet for a long time then wood decay in the form of wet rot can be more serious.

“This is caused by wood being in contact with damp masonry with exposure to high levels of water over long periods leading to a natural breakdown process, seen in all natural organic materials.

“Commonly seen on untreated wood exposed to the elements, such as window frames, wet rot will not spread beyond the area of dampness.

“More of an issue is dry rot. The name is misleading as a moisture content in excess of 20 per cent is needed before such fungi will develop.

“Filaments of dry rot fungus are capable of spreading some considerable distance, over and through cracks in masonry, to affect timber away from its original source. However, they can only do this if the masonry or covering plasterwork is damp.”

More details are available from an area of the PCA website setting out the issues relating to wet and dry rot at

http://www.property-care.org/homeowners/timber-treatment/

Mr Hodgson added: “Clearly, the discovery of rotten timbers in a building can present concern for the occupant.

“Once the existence and extent of a timber problem has been established, the main priority must be to focus on its cause.

“It is crucial that the type and cause of fungal decay are correctly identified before any corrective action can be considered.

“For these reasons, it is important that a detailed diagnostic inspection is carried out by a competent specialist.

“Innovation and best practice from PCA members with regards to the investigation of fungal decay and also, where necessary, its eradication have moved on significantly, making the remediation process in some situations less damaging.”