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Dry rot treatment

Dry Rot – What you need to know

The wood destroying fungus Serpula Lacrymans, commonly known as dry rot, is seen all over the world. It can be devastating; destroying timber wherever conditions are perfect for it to thrive. Although it is seen in nature destroying trees in forests and woods, where it is a particular concern is in your home. This article will explain what dry rot is, how to identify it, and how to eradicate it.

So what is dry rot?

Dry rot is a fungus, its spores are everywhere, invisible to the naked eye. These spores are generally harmless, and are only able to thrive in wood with a moisture content over 20%. However, when these spores come into contact with timber in the right conditions, they begin to germinate rapidly.

This fungal growth eats away at the nutrients in the wood, making the timber become darker and more brittle. Timber infected with dry rot is dangerous, particularly if it is load bearing, and can lead to permanent damage within a property, even resulting in structures collapsing. What is more it can spread like wildfire, it has been known to grow at as much as 1 metre in as little as a month!

Dry rot does not feed on masonry and other services, however it can spread through brickwork and masonry to reach more timber to feed off, meaning that it is extra important to catch and treat dry rot quickly.

How to identify dry rot

At first, dry rot appears as a white, almost cotton-wool like sheet called mycelium on timber and brickwork. This is followed by a fruiting body called a sporophore. These fruiting bodies are often a rusty red colour in the centre with a white colour around the outside. It is sometimes the rest dust (spores) from these fruiting bodies that can be the first noticeable sign of a dry rot problem.

Looking at the qualities of the wood itself is often another way that dry rot can be identified. The wood will have dried out, be dark in colour and have shrunk considerably. The wood will be brittle, cracked and be easily broken.

A common indicator of a dry rot problem can also be the smell. Dry rot emits a musty, damp fungal smell, which is also usually associated with damp.

Dry rot treatment

The first step is to call a professional such as Keith Rennie to survey your property, and diagnose that it is indeed dry rot that is the problem. Once this is done, and dry rot has been confirmed, the next step will be twofold: identify any sources of moisture entering the affected area (such as leaky gutters or roof failure), and to remove the infected timbers. Often surrounding plaster will also need to be removed in the process, to ensure adequate treatment.

Once this is done, the surrounding area may need to be chemically treated with fungicides in order to prevent reinfection when new timber is installed. New timbers will then be installed and pre-treated to ensure dry rot does not return.

Preventing further attacks

A lot of the work undertaken when treating dry rot is also an attempt to ensure it does not return. One of the key aspects of this is making sure that the area is well ventilated, and that issues such as condensation are kept under control, as well as the relevant fungicide treatments.

Think you might have a dry rot problem? Contact Keith Rennie today!



Woodworm: the truth behind this household pest

What are Woodworms?

Woodworm is the term applied to the infestation of a wooden item with the wood boring larvae from a range of species of beetle. There are many species of beetle known to be the cause of woodworm infestations worldwide, however the most commonly seen variety in Scotland is the Common Furniture Beetle. Other species of beetle, such as the Death Watch beetle, House Longhorn Beetle and Powderpost Beetle tend to thrive in warmer environments further south and are rarely seen in Scotland.

The Common Furniture Beetle lays its eggs into small cracks or holes in wood. Once they hatch into larvae, they bore into the wood itself, eating away at the starchy grain under the surface. They live under the surface until they are ready to pupate, usually for 3-4 years, before moving closer to the surface, eventually boring through the wood and emerging as adult beetles. The resulting 1-2mm holes (these are often compared to the size of holes in a dartboard) in the wood and also dust spillage (known as frass) is often how woodworm infestation is first spotted.

woodworm

Common Furniture Beetles target mostly softwood timbers commonly found in floorboards, loft timbers and old unfinished furniture. They thrive in areas that are damp, as this beetle is generally seen in the wild in moist deadwood. Therefore, if the timber in a dwelling is damp, the risk of a woodworm infestation is far greater than in a well ventilated damp free setting.

Prevention is always better than cure, and this can be done by ensuring that the property is kept well ventilated and by reducing humidity. Woodworm can only thrive in dampness, preferring moisture content within the timber over 18% and able to tolerate it down to levels around 12% for a short period of time. A woodworm treatment professional might use a timber moisture meter to gain a reading of the moisture level within the wood and give an indication of whether or not an infestation is likely to be present.

If you suspect areas of your property may be subject to a woodworm infestation, the first step is to contact a professional in this field who will be able to diagnose if it is indeed a live woodworm infestation and determine which timbers need to be treated and/or replaced. If the structural damage is deemed significant enough to require replacement timber, this will usually be done with pre-treated timber to reduce the risk of a repeat infestation. Currently unaffected timbers will usually also be surface treated with pesticides.

Treatment of woodworm may seem pointless, as all larvae under the surface will eventually emerge through the wood, however the treatments used by woodworm specialists result in the adult beetles becoming unable to breed further, significantly reducing their population. As adult female beetles like to lay eggs in the previously excavated holes in the wood, this sterility in the emerging beetles massively reduces the chances of a repeat infestation in the same timber.

Overall, if your property is displaying signs that might indicate a woodworm infestation, it is always best to contact a professional in this field to investigate further. It is dangerous to attempt chemical woodworm treatments yourself.

Think you may have woodworm in your property? Contact Keith Rennie today!



DampTreatment Scottish Borders

Identifying & Tackling Damp in Your Property

Discovering you have damp in your property can be quite a worrying situation, as it can cause not only structural problems within the property itself if not adequately treated, but in some cases it can actually become hazardous to the health of you and your loved ones.
The three most common forms of damp are rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation. Each type has its own set of symptoms and requires its own unique treatment plan in order to eradicate it and, where possible, prevent further occurrences of the condition. This article will discuss each type of damp in turn, describing in detail the cause, symptoms and treatment in each case.

Rising Damp

Cause:

Rising damp is caused when ground water on the exterior of a building moves up the wall by a capillary action, penetrating through to the inner surface of the wall. This is particularly common in older buildings which may have an inadequate or failed damp proofing course in place.

Symptoms:

Usually seen in ground level rooms and basements. Can be identified by tide marks on the walls, and discolouration of wallpaper. Wall may feel wet to the touch. Plaster may start to bubble and flake. May cause skirting boards and wooden flooring to develop rot.

Treatment:

The best course of action if you suspect rising damp in your property is to contact a damp proofing expert for an opinion. They will usually conduct a thorough survey of the property to identify the cause of the issue and its best treatment plan, as each case is different. Installation of a new damp proofing course and renewal of the affected plaster is sometimes adequate, however there are alternative treatments available such as electo-osmosis and membrane systems.

Penetrating Damp

Cause:

This form of damp is usually a result of leaking pipes or faulty guttering, leading to large amounts of water on the exterior of the wall which penetrates through to the interior of the property.

Symptoms:

Penetrating Damp can affect walls, ceilings and floors in any part of a property. Usually presents as damp patches on the wall itself, which may get worse when it rains. Tide marks on wallpaper and salt deposits are also common symptoms of penetrating damp. Failed plaster can also be due to penetrating damp, as well as wet or rotting woodwork in the vicinity.

Treatment:

Treatment of penetrating damp will generally depend upon how early it is identified and the level of damage it has caused. Fixing the root of the problem to prevent water penetrating the wall is usually the most prudent solution, as well as renewing the interior plaster/woodwork where required. If damp has affected structural parts of the building then more work may be required, including dry/wet rot treatments. It is always best to get the opinion of an expert before proceeding with any work, as they can best advise you as to the best course of action.

Condensation

Cause:

Condensation is caused by a range of factors including lack of heating, ventilation and insulation. Too much moisture in the air can lead to it building up on other surfaces, which over time can lead to the growth of mould, which in turn can cause health implications to those living in the property.

Symptoms:

Excessive water forming on walls, ceilings and windows leading to the development of mould growth is the most common way to identify that you may have a condensation problem in your home. Mould on other surfaces such as carpets and wallpaper may indicate that the issue may be severe and will require immediate action to prevent further damage.

Treatment:

Ensuring you have adequate ventilation, heating and insulation in your property is the key to controlling condensation. Excess water in the air can also be controlled using a humidifier in some cases. Humidifiers remove water particles from the air and help to reduce condensation. Ensuring rooms, particularly kitchens and bathrooms, are well ventilated when in use can also go a long way to prevent condensation occurring.

In summary, when in doubt, contact a reputable expert in the damp proofing industry. They will be able to diagnose the problem for you, ensuring your property gets the correct treatment to eradicate the problem. Don’t let damp ruin your home, take action today!