Do you suspect that you have a problem with dry rot in your home? It is an issue that can cause much damage and if it isn't taken care of promptly, it will only continue to get worse. Like many homeowners, you may not be fully aware of how to identify dry rot. To be certain, there are many issues which may have a similar appearance. If you know the signs of dry rot, it can help you to take appropriate action.
Before we discuss the signs of dry rot, it is good to discuss preventing the issue. Although dry rot may be an issue for many homeowners that is only discovered after there is a problem, it is also a preventable issue in many cases. According to the Ohio State University, dry rot can often be avoided by building on a well drained site with adequate cross ventilation under the building. It is also beneficial if you choose a decay resistant species for building materials and install a vapor barrier to keep condensation from reaching the wood (Source: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3300.html)
Dry rot is a type of fungus (Serpula Lacrymans) that can be found in most parts of the world. It can occur in nature, affecting timber but it is often a problem that occurs in buildings and ships. There are a number of other types of fungi which can also affect wood in a similar manner, such as wet rots. Dry rot, however, is a problem all to itself that can lead to structural damage that is widespread. Here are some ways to identify it.
Shrinking/Cracking - Dry rot will cause wood to shrink and crack. The appearance of the cracks will be cubical in nature (Source).
Fruiting Bodies - As a type of fungus, dry rot may sprout on the outside surface of the wood that is affected. These "fruiting bodies" may be shelf-like in appearance and may look somewhat like a fleshy pancake. The surfaces of the visible manifestations of the fungi typically have an orange surface with wide pores.
Spores - You may see dusty spores that have a red color near the fruiting bodies.
Odor - As the decay continues to progress, you may smell a damp, musty odor in the area.
Dry rot will affect timbers when they are damp. That is why one of the most important things to do when you have dry rot is to remove the source of water. Once the wood is dry, the fungi will no longer remain active and the problem will be controlled. At that point, you should take measures to ensure that the moisture is not a problem again in the future. Using a professional contractor can help to ensure that the job is done properly.
Although dry rot is an issue for many homeowners, it does not need to be a problem that causes permanent harm. Provided you take measures to prevent, control and treat the issue, according to the circumstances, you need not worry about it causing additional damage.