Wood is an extremely versatile and widely used material in building and structures. Not only is it strong and easy to work with, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing in a range of building types thanks to its natural finish.
This appearance and adaptability do come at a price though; wood can also be a vulnerable material that needs to be protected, particularly against threats such as wet rot. Wet rot (and dry rot) are among the main threats to wooden structures, and so it pays to be aware of the dangers of wet rot and how to spot it.
To help you keep your wood in the best condition possible, our BC Profiles team have put together a list of top Wet Rot FAQs.
What is wet rot?
Wet rot is caused by a combination of fungal species that decay and affect the wood in high moisture conditions. Though it’s not considered as destructive as dry rot, it can still cause plenty of structural damage and is also able to spread to the likes of carpets, plaster and wallpaper.
The wet rot fungi, the most common of which is named Coniophora Puteana (A.K.A cellar fungus), obtains its food by breaking down the cells in the wood. Over time, this causes the wood to lose its structural integrity and the onset of rot.
What are the causes of wet rot?
As we’ve already touched upon, wet rot occurs when timber is exposed to excess moisture for extended periods of time. This can affect anywhere within the property, so long as the two main components of wet conditions and wood are present.
The common causes of wet rot are:
- Broken or leaking plumbing and pipes
- Damaged or leaking roofline
- Blocked or leaking guttering
- Damaged sealant on baths, sinks and showers
- Poorly plumbed appliances
You should strive to find the cause of your wet rot woes as soon as possible before any further damage is sustained, so it’s a good idea that you get to grips with spotting the signs of wet rot too.
What are the signs of wet rot?
If you want to get on top of things, first and foremost, it’s important that you know how to spot wet rot. Thankfully, there are telltale signs that wet rot may be taking hold in your timber, though we would always recommend the advice of a professional to determine whether you’re dealing with wet rot or dry rot, given that many of the signs are not dissimilar.
Common signs of wet rot include:
- Darkened areas of timber
- A cracked surface that may crumble on contact
- Soft, spongy timber
- Signs that the timber has shrunk
- A damp, musty aroma
- Patches of fungus growth on the timber
How can I treat wet rot?
Many people will ask, ‘can I treat wet rot myself?’, but to properly deal with the problem, we would always recommend seeking the help of a qualified professional. The reason for this? It’s vital that you not only address your wet rot problems but also that you find the root of where excess moisture is stemming from too.
This can be a time-consuming process that requires a certain amount of experience as well as specialist tools, dealing with your wet rot incorrectly or with the wrong equipment can cause much more serious, expensive and long-lasting structural damage to your home.
Treating wet rot
Wet rot treatment involves the use of wood treatments, fungicides and insecticides, typically it also involves the following steps:
- Identifying the area of infection, the type of rot and also the extent of the damage
- Find out the cause, starting with the source of the excess moisture
- Drying out the area from which the wet rot has occurred
- Specify the extent of the decay and which treatment methods are needed
- If wet rot has affected the structural integrity and strength of the timber, it will need to be removed and replaced
- Treat the affected area with wood treatment such as hardeners and preservatives.
Wet rot vs dry rot
So, what are the differences between wet rot and dry rot? They are both caused by different types of fungi, Coniophora Puteana and Serpula Lacrymans respectively.
Dry rot is the more serious of the two as it does not rely on damp conditions to flourish and will cause more serious damage and decay within a building. It spreads much faster and wider than wet rot and can destroy the majority of timber work if left to its own devices.
Wet rot is more common, however, it’s also less serious and more easily treated. You’ll usually find that wet rot is contained within areas where the timber has been exposed to excess moisture rather than spreading to the surrounding areas of wood.
For more info on dry rot signs, treatment and prevention, take a look at our Dry Rot FAQs.
If you’d like more information relating to preventing the causes of wet rot, why not explore our dedicated blog posts on How to Damp Proof and How to Seal a Bathroom? For more expert advice and how to’s, follow our team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.