What Is Dry Rot and How To Prevent It

It’s a nice summer day and you’re out barbecuing with friends. The next thing you know, your barbecue falls through the deck. Your fun afternoon turned into an emergency in a heartbeat.

Why did your deck fail under the weight of the barbecue? The main culprit is dry rot.

What is dry rot? It’s the natural process of wood decay. Neglected wooden structures develop dry rot to complete the life cycle.

Rotting wood in your home leads to serious injuries for your family. The damaged barbecue could’ve been a child, instead. Prevent them and your home by learning how to spot and stop dry rot.

What is Dry Rot?

When trees fall in the forest, fungus spores break down the wood’s cell walls. The fungus turns wood into Swiss cheese. Sometimes homeowners mistake dry rot for termite damage.

Dry rot fungus latches onto wooden parts of your home within days of water damage. Wood with over 20% excess moisture is a perfect habitat for the fungus.

As with most fungi, dry rot spreads by airborne spores. When one part of your house is affected, the wood rot is sure to spread. If it’s not stopped, the wood holding up your home will turn into soil.

How to Find Dry Rot Around Your Home

You need to inspect any wood exposed to humidity or excess moisture. Grab a flashlight and check your attic and crawlspaces. Dry rot in these areas can collapse the roof or flooring.

What should you look for? In its early stages, dry rot looks like raw cotton. Mature wood rot looks like silver mushroom skin.

When you see something that looks like wood rot, poke it with a screwdriver. If the wood sinks in or crumbles, it’s infested with wood rot.

Methods to Prevent and Treat Dry Rot

The easiest way to keep your home safe from dry rot fungus is moisture control. Don’t ignore any small leaks around the house. This includes any leaks in your roof gutters and sprinkler system.

What is the best dry rot treatment? For ages, the most popular treatment method was copper compounds. Research shows they don’t work as well as borate wood preservatives.

Before you attempt any dry rot treatment, take out the affected wood. If your treatment fails, the mold spores will spread. Once the dry rot is gone, treat the surrounding wood, and replace what you removed.

Taking care of your deck is easier than replacing a rotted window frame. Every year or two, coat the deck with a wood sealer. Don’t use a wood stain instead of a sealer; wood stains don’t repel moisture.

Protecting Your Home From Dry Rot is Easy

What is dry rot? It’s a giant headache for homeowners who live in humid climates.

Wood rot may lurk in hard to reach areas like your roof deck or crawlspace. On top of being difficult to reach, working on your roof can be dangerous. Call in professional help to deal with dry rot in these areas.

Do you need more advice about protecting your home? Browse through our Home Improvement section.