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Dry rot: signs, causes and how to treat it

Read on to discover early dry rot signs, and how to get dry rot treatment before it causes damage.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

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Key Steps

  • Dry rot signs include darkened, shrunken wood; mushroom-coloured peeling skin; orange, pancake like growths; and a musty smell.

  • Call a professional to have a dry rot survey.

  • Treat the source of moisture causing dry rot, such as roof leaks or burst pipes.

  • Prevent dry rot by treating timber with fungicide.

Dry rot in your house can cause real damage, so it’s important to spot dry rot signs quickly so you can deal with it as soon as possible. This article will explain top dry rot causes, the signs to look out for and how to get dry rot treatment.

If you suspect you have spotted dry rot signs in your home, it is important to call in a professional. To avoid getting dry rot, treat all timber with fungicide.

What are dry rot causes?

Dry rot is caused by a wood-destroying fungus. It is found all over the world and although it can affect forest timbers, most often it’s known for destroying timbers in ships and buildings. It can be caused by a number of sources of water in your home, such as high levels of condensation and rising damp.

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How to spot dry rot: early signs

There are a few dry rot signs which will make it easy to distinguish if timber decay has been caused by dry rot or another wood-destroying fungus. It is important to be able to tell the difference, because dry rot can travel through building materials other than timber, meaning left untreated it could spread quickly through a building. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Wood shrinks, darkens and cracks.

  • A mushroom colour skin (often grey tinged with lilac or yellow) develops under less humid conditions.

  • This “skin” can be peeled.

  • Mycelium (a white, fluffy, cotton wool like substance) develops under humid conditions.

  • You notice teardrops on the growth.

  • You notice strands developing in the mycelium. These will be brittle, and crack if you dry to bend them.

  • There are fruiting bodies growing on the surface of the wood. These are often soft, pancake-like, orange in colour and have wide pores.

  • You can see rust red spore dust around these growths.

  • There is a musty, damp smell around the decaying wood.

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How to get dry rot treatment

If you do not get dry rot treated as soon as you discover it, it can cause widespread structural damage. 

  1. Call a professional timber treatment company. They will be able to carry out a survey if you suspect you have dry rot and treat it if need be.

  2. To remove dry rot, the first step is to remove the source of moisture.

  3. Have a look for leaking washing machines, bathrooms, pipes and more. Ensure that you have these fixed as soon as you can.

  4. If the moisture is coming from your house, you may need to look for leaks in your roof, rising damp, or dampness penetrating through walls.

  5. Allowing the timber to properly dry out will help control the dry rot.

  6. If the cause of the moisture can’t be rectified, you must take measures to ensure that the timbers remain dry in the long term. 

  • Affected timbers should be removed.

  • These should be replaced with pre-treated timber. 

  • All non-affected timbers, which could be at risk should be treated with an effective fungicide. 

  • If you know dry rot has passed through your masonry, you will need to ensure masonry sterilisation is taken care of.

Thanks to our guide, you will now be able to spot the early dry rot signs and get some dry rot treatment sorted quickly to prevent real damage to your home. Visit Cleanipedia for more wood care tips, including how to remove wood stains and how to clean wood floors.

Originally published