Most people believe that wood rotting fungi (true dry rot) needs a lot of moisture to penetrate through dry woods. Fungi need moisture and cannot live without it. However, it’s been proven that even the smallest amount of moisture is enough for fungi to start their attack on dry woods and destroy them. These ‘wood attacks’ can be treated with dry rot treatments but they can be expensive.
What is Dry Rot?
Let me share to you a little bit about the history of dry rot. Dry rot is term coined to describe the damage found on cured and dry timbers used to build ships and buildings. They believed that an internal fermentation has caused the damages because the timbers looked dry on the outside. Dry rot makes use of the moisture leaving affected parts dry. Nowadays, dry rot is referred to as brown rot.
Dry rot refers to the wood decay caused by wood rotting fungi particularly known as true dry rot. There are three main types of fungi; wood-decaying fungi, sap stain and mold. They mainly attack the cellulose of a damp timber. To be able to penetrate through the wood, a minimum moisture requirement of 20% – 30% is needed. True dry rot basically makes use of the moisture and supplements the moisture they need to continue the process. They can carry the moisture and can easily spread all throughout dry timbers at its sides. Dry rot can destroy up to 150mm of wood in a month. If not given appropriate action, dry rot can extensively inflict damages in your wood columns, walls, ceilings, and so on.
How to Identify Dry Rot?
Identifying dry rot is very important to prevent further damages to your wood. In addition to, it is also important to properly identify dry rot to prevent wrong treatment methods which can waste both your time and money. It can easily be misidentified as termite infestations.
Typical indicators of dry rot are the following:
- Shrinking of woods due to reduced amount of moisture
- Dark colored woods
- Cracks in a cuboidal manner
- Active decaying process visibly seen
- Silky grey or mushroom colored skin
- Teardrops appear on wood cracks
- Fruiting bodies appear on affected areas
- Rust red colored spores around the fruiting bodies
- Smell of mold and mildew
It is recommended to consult timber professionals when these dry rot indicators appear in your house. Dry rot in wood can easily spread and can easily inflict heavy damages on your timbers.
Dry Rot Treatments
Any wood can be at risk of dry rot as long as it contains moisture. Even though the woods you used are cured. As part of dry rot control methods, keeping your woods dry can avoid dry rot. Major causes of wetness are caused by leaks. However, keeping your woods dry cannot be attained as a long-term goal. Moisture would always develop as time passes.
You may not be able to identify dry rot directly if external damages do not blatantly appear. Treatment of dry rot ranges from remedies to repairs which can cost more than the original cost of the material. It includes with the use of mold inhibitors, epoxies, and wood replacements.
Things you will need for the treatment; any pointed device or tool, flat screwdriver or scraper, paintbrush, wood hardener, mold inhibitors, sandpapers, wood glue, chisel, hammer, and a tape. Initially, use a pointed tool or device to inspect the wood to be treated. Clear indications of dry rot were already stated above.
If dry rot wood damages are only found on the surfaces, remove the damages with the use of a screwdriver or whichever is convenient. Using a paintbrush, apply enough wood hardener and let it dry. Create a mold around the damaged area with the use of hardboard scraps. Mix epoxy with the dry rot hardener and fill the damaged area. Allow the epoxy to dry and remove the molds. Finally, sand the epoxy patch.
If dry rot has extensively destroyed the whole part, you will need to replace it. First, you will need to cut a piece of wood enough to fit on the damaged part. Use chisel and hammer to trace the wood size. Apply wood glue to the adjoining surfaces and clamp them together. Let the wood glue dry. Finally, use a sandpaper to finish the surface. Make sure that the treated areas do not have holes for water entries. Seal the treated area with wood glue or any other desired material.
Mixture of borax and boric acid can also be effective in preventing and killing wood-rotting fungi. Boric acid can readily bought in drug stores or roach poisons in your favorite department stores while borax can be found in cleaning supply stores. Mix 6 parts of borax to 4 parts of boric acid in a large pot. Stir the mixture evenly on low heat until crystals disappears completely. Apply the mixture carefully to the affected areas or areas you wish to prevent from dry rot.
These dry rot treatments can be done at home. With careful planning, you can easily kill wood-rotting fungi and prevent them from inflicting damages to your home.