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Landlord lessons: dealing with wet rot and dry rot

Thursday 19 March 2015

Damp and mould can have serious consequences for both landlords and their tenants – with potentially dire effects on the latter’s health and criminal prosecutions costing the former upwards of £20,000 if a failure to act is in evidence.
 
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Continuing its series on damp Simple Landlords Insurance takes a look at the causes and effects of wet and dry rot with a few tips on how to deal with both.

What is wet rot?

Wet rot is a form of fungal decay which can affect timber in both historic and modern buildings. It is caused by a variety of fungal species which feed and grow on food within the timber but is perhaps less worrying than dry rot, which can grow through brickwork.

How do I know of my property has wet rot?

Timer affected by wet rot will be darker or bleached, depending on the fungal species, and may have minor cracks along the grain which can also be cuboidal in shape. Fruiting bodies, technically known as sporocarp, may be the first sign of an outbreak and often look like balls of cotton wool.

What are the common causes of wet rot?

Wet rot generally grows on timber that has a high moisture content or which has a continuous trickle of water on it. This dampness combined with a lack of ventilation provides ideal conditions for an outbreak.

What is the best way to deal with wet rot?

It is vital to find the source of moisture that is causing the dampness and feeding the fungus and remove it. Once moisture is removed the wet rot will die.

The affected timber should then be dried out and treated using a fungicidal treatment.

Rotted wood should then be replaced with a timber that has been treated with a preservative.

What is dry rot?

Dry rot is a form of fungal decay which, like wet rot, affects both historic and modern buildings but can spread through thick brick walls via mortar joints in search of timber food sources.

How do I know if my property has dry rot?

Affected timber is brown, dry and brittle enough to crumble in the hand.

It feels lightweight and hollow-sounding when tapped. Cracks will be deep and have a cuboidal pattern, deeply crossing the grain.

The fruiting bodies found in it are mushroom-shaped and yellow in their early stages and turn to brown and red when mature.

These can normally be found at the junction of brickwork and timber with strands which are of a white-grey cobweb appearance.

Dry rot is usually found in dark places and prefers damp, still air such as is found in cellars.

What are the common causes of dry rot?

Damp combined with a lack of ventilation provides ideal conditions for dry rot to set in. It generally happens when timber comes into contact with wet brick.

What is the best way to deal with dry rot?

It is vital to find the source of moisture causing the dampness and remove or reduce it. Increasing the temperature within a room and drying out the moisture will kill fungus. Affected timbers would need to be treated using a fungicidal treatment.

Rotted wood would need to be removed within 450mm of a visible outbreak.

If you are worried about wet or dry rot in your property then a damp and timber survey may be needed to assess the damage.

You can have a specialist inspection survey completed by qualified and accredited surveyors and engineers Property Assure. The firm promises straightforward, honest advice provided by independent and impartial qualified and accredited experts.

For more information please phone 0844 257 9696.

If you found this guide useful then please visit the Simple Landlords Insurance News section for more helpful tips and advice.

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