Weather pattern sees wet rot and dry rot take hold in UK homes

[November 2017]

The Property Care Association (PCA) says that the mix of rain throughout the summer combined with mild temperatures has provided the right conditions for wet rot and dry rot to flourish this year.

If left untreated, wet rot and dry rot can cause wood to lose its strength – and in some situations, if areas such as floorboards are affected, timber decay can lead to structural dangers.

Steve Hodgson, Chief Executive of the PCA, said: “This year to date has provided very favourable conditions for rot to take hold.

“Our members have reported increases in the number of cases in homes across the country.

“Both wet rot and dry rot can both appear from nowhere. Often, they start to emerge from hidden places such as behind radiators or under floorboards. leaving householders unaware for some time of the issue.

“Homes which have been empty and uninhabited for some time are also vulnerable.

“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.

“Wet rot is commonly seen on untreated wood exposed to the elements, such as window frames, and it will not spread beyond the area of dampness.

“Dry rot presents more of a problem. The name is a bit confusing as a moisture content in excess of 20 per cent is needed before it 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.”

“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 provide sources of excess moisture and basic property maintenance is often all that is needed to dry out the affected timber.”

According to the PCA while basic property maintenance can prevent rot breaking out in the first place, if it is found expert help should be sought as soon as possible.

Mr Hodgson added: “Wet and dry rot control and eradication has evolved over the years to make the problem much easier to address.

“Modern techniques now act to preserve the existing timber and minimise the level of structural works.

“However, careful assessment is needed to address the issue promptly and accurately and it is critically important that the two types of decay are distinguished since they require different treatment.

“Such works should be highly targeted and carried out by experts and, if in doubt, a member of the PCA called to advise on the issue.”

The PCA is an approved scheme operator for TrustMark, the scheme supported by government to help property owners find reliable and trustworthy tradespeople to make home improvements.

More information can be found on the PCA website here.