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Fungal Decay in Building Timbers
Wet rot can affect buildings of all ages and if decay is discovered it should be identified and remedial action was taken without delay.
Fungal decay occurs in timber which becomes wet for some time and is the result of the attack by one of a number of wood-destroying fungi. The most well known wet rots are Coniophora puteana the Cellar fungus and Poria vaillantii the Pore or Mine fungus. Many other fungi also occur and some have recently been particularly linked with decay in door and window frames.
Wet rot occurs more frequently, but is less serious; decay is typically confined to the area where timber has become and remains wet.
Fungal decay always arises because the wood has become wet, usually, timbers will be in excess of 20 per cent moisture content. Finding the source of dampness and eliminating the ingress of moisture and promoting drying is always necessary.
The main differences between dry rot and wet rot are the degree of development of mycelium on the wood surface and the ability of the fungus to spread into other timbers via adjacent masonry. It is important that the two types of decay be distinguished since they require different treatment.
This type of rot is caused principally by Coniophora puteana. Poria vaillantii is another important wet rot fungus and a number of less common fungi also occur. While each fungus has its own unique features, the general appearance of wet rot is similar – as is the treatment. Wet rot is typically confined to the area of dampness because the mycelium does not spread into walls.
Identification and Treatment
As we have shown it is very important that the type and cause of the fungal decay are correctly identified before any corrective action can be considered. It is for these reasons that it is important that a detailed diagnostic inspection is carried out by a competent specialist. This inspection should be followed by the submission of a report that details both the cause of the decay and the proposed remedial action.