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What to do if your house has a dry rot infestation

Whether you’re buying a property that has a dry rot infestation or you’re trying to sell a home, dealing with dry rot can be difficult. Compared to wet rot, dry rot is far more dangerous and can spread quickly without showing signs of damage. In other words, you may not realise there’s a dry rot infestation straight away. There are a few ways to tackle this problem if you discover an infestation in your home.

Dry rot explained

Before you can tackle a dry rot infestation, you need to understand what the issue is. Dry rot is an aggressive form of fungal growth which can deteriorate the integrity of wood or timber quickly. Despite the name, it’s caused by damp timber and structural materials, which can be caused by high levels of condensation or water entering the home from a leak.

While it can be a concern, especially if you’re buying or selling a home, it doesn’t need to be something that destroys the property – there are ways to treat dry rot, and the earlier it’s identified, the more affordable and simpler the treatment is.

Dry rot and damp are some of the first things a buyer will look for when investing in a property, so they’re important things to check for in your property. There are a few signs that a home may have dry rot, including:

Seek professional help

The first step is to have the property surveyed by a professional to check that there is dry rot present. They will be able to identify any signs of dry rot and examine the extent of the problem, to devise a treatment programme that will fully clear the fungus from the property.

Identifying the problem early can help significantly if you’re selling a home – if a buyer detects dry rot, they will be in a good position to renegotiate the price to a much lower figure, so it’s much more cost-effective to treat the problem beforehand. A RICS accredited surveyor will be able to visit the property and assess it fully, providing you with a report with recommendations on how to proceed.

Devise a treatment plan

Mild dry rot can sometimes be treated simply by cleaning the area and applying a wood treatment solution, along with a fresh coat of pain. This can be a budget-friendly solution but could be the difference between thousands of pounds on your final home value. It’s a good idea to treat unaffected timber with a fungicidal treatment though to prevent spores from settling in in other areas of your home too.

However, depending on the extent of the infestation, you may need to remove and replace a lot of the structural timber in the property, which will require a professional to ensure your home is structurally sound throughout. It’s not just the infected wood that needs to be replaced in this situation but also any wood within a metre of the site, along with the new wood being treated with a fungicide. The masonry may also need to be replaced if the fungus has spread to the plaster and mortar.

Take preventative measures

Once the treatment programme has been carried out and your home is free from dry rot, you need to maintain your home for the future. It’s vital that you keep rooms well-ventilated to avoid condensation from building up and invest in a dehumidifier to keep the moisture levels in the air to an appropriate level. Dry rot only develops on surfaces with a moisture content of 20% or more, so keeping damp at bay is critical for preventing dry rot from settling in.

Be watchful of cracked piping too, especially any pipes within internal walls, and broken guttering as this can allow water to get inside your property, providing a perfect environment for damp and dry rot. Appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers can also be an issue here, so check regularly for faults. The key is to prevent water from overflowing and seeping into your property, so regular maintenance checks are the way forward.

Final thoughts

You may have spotted dry rot in your own home, or you could be in the process of buying a property where dry rot is a concern. Whatever your circumstances, it’s important that you have an expert check the property to not only confirm if dry rot is present but also examine how widespread the issue is.

While you may be tempted to investigate the issue yourself, it can sometimes be difficult to understand how deep the issue goes and if it’s not treated fully, the problem will simply reoccur. A full investigation by a professional surveyor should be your top priority if you’ve spotted the signs of dry rot to enable you to treat it as quickly as possible and prevent structural damage from developing.

For further information about having a survey on your home or for impartial advice, contact Cosey Homes today.

UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
Cosey Homes offer the full range RICS home surveys from Level 1 - 3 with national coverage provided by our experienced local property surveying team.