What Is Dry Rot?

The first thing you might want to know is more about what dry rot actually is. The words “dry rot” don’t necessarily mean anything to someone without a lot of knowledge surrounding home repair.

This is a quick briefing on what dry rot is, so you know why it’s important.

A Fungal Infestation

Dry rot is a specific fungal infestation. The fungus most commonly called “dry rot” tends to be Meruliporia incrassate in North America and Serpula lacrymans in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

There are many reasons you may end up with wood problems similar to dry rot, but “true dry rot” refers to only certain species of fungi. Because other problems, like wood rot, can have similar problems but different fixes, it’s a good idea to see exactly what type of infestation you’re dealing with.

Because the scientific names of these different infestations can be so difficult to pronounce and remember, it’s likely that you’ll hear the “layman’s terms” instead. Ask the expert inspecting your home what they consider “dry rot” and how they distinguish it from other types of rot.

Significant for Structure and Strength

When dry rot gets into your home, similarly to other problems like wood rot, it seriously impacts the strength of the structure. That’s because it literally eats away at the wood, weakening it substantially over time.

You should treat dry rot with the same amount of importance you would use for any other type of rot in a wooden beam. It has a very significant impact on your home, and it’s important that you handle it as soon as possible.

Don’t assume that just because the dry rot doesn’t “look” serious it isn’t serious. If you’ve started to worry that your home may be at risk by dry rot, talk to an expert. That way, you can know the extent of the damage and know whether you’re handling dry rot. 

Not Actually Dry

It may surprise you to hear that “dry rot” isn’t dry. There are a number of different potential reasons that it came to be called “dry rot,” but regardless of the reason for the name, the fungus actually needs some amount of moisture to grow.

However, especially when opposed to high-moisture problems like mold and mildew, “dry rot” does live up to its name by a small amount. Mold and mildew, for example, require humidity levels nearing 70%-80%, whereas dry rot requires a moisture content in wood of around 20%.

This is a good argument for avoiding excess water in your crawl space or excess moisture in your home. If you keep the moisture content low as a whole, you can make sure dry rot doesn’t even have enough moisture to start growing.

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