Warm, wet weather provides right environment for rot to set in!

Warm, wet weather provides right environment for rot to set in!

An increase in wet and dry rot in homes across the UK could be on the cards following the recent warm, wet weather. A short winter and the deluge of rain in spring, combined with higher temperatures, have all provided a perfect breeding ground for wet and dry rot to thrive.

According to The Property Care Association, the best way to address the problem is to ensure basic property maintenance is carried out. Steve Hodgson, Chief Executive of the PCA, said: “In cases of wet and dry rot, the source of the problem is excess moisture entering a property.

“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 basic property maintenance is often all that is needed to dry out the affected timber. Wet rot is caused by wood being in contact with damp masonry. Exposure to high levels of water over long periods leads 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 a problem is dry rot. A bit of a misnomer, the term dry rot can be 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 masonry, to affect timber away from its original source. However, they can only do this if the masonry or covering plasterwork is damp.”

Although the wet and dry rot can cause worry for the owners of an affected property, the PCA says treatments have evolved over the years to make the problem much easier to remedy – but careful assessment is needed to address the issue promptly and accurately.

Mr Hodgson added: “In the past remedial treatment may have required structural operations and chemical sprays, rendering homes uninhabitable for days and possibly leading to the loss of timber and plasterwork.

“However, over the past ten years or so, there has been a sea change in timber treatment methods, with modern techniques now achieving pinpoint accuracy – and minimal impact on a property and its occupants. If timber treatment is to be less intrusive, it is essential that any problems with rot are diagnosed accurately in the first place. This is the job of the specialist surveyor.

Modern techniques place emphasis on the preservation of existing timber and minimising the level of structural works – but while we can benefit from advances in technology in this field, it is important to find a specialist that can ensure works are kept on track.”