Some home problems that require repairs appear highly visible, constantly reminding you that they need attention. However, wood rot is often hidden, able to grow and feed. When undetected, wood rot can begin to affect your health as well as your home. In very serious cases, however uncommon, wood rot can become so widespread that it affects the structural integrity of the building.
Because of the risks associated with unaddressed wood rot, it’s important that you as a home owner know how to recognise wood rot in all its stages. If you live in an area with average to high humidity, we advise you to inspect your home and property thoroughly for any signs of wood rot at least once a year.
If you notice any of the following six signs, have them evaluated and treated by a wood rot professional immediately.
1. Damaged or Decaying Timber
In your search for wood rot, one of the most common and sure indicators is soft wood. If the wood feels spongy to the touch or is brittle and crumbly, it’s probably damaged or decaying due to rot. This portion of timber likely needs to be removed to keep the rot from spreading. Another common sign of damaged timber is a section that appears shrunken or darkened.
2. Large Patches of Spore Dust
Dry rot spores appear at many properties, sometimes without accompanying rot. However, large and concentrated patches of spore dust are a cause for concern. If you find large areas of fine dust that’s orange, rust red or brown in colour, ask a professional to help you clear away the spores.
3. Fine Strands (Hyphae) on Timber
After a certain point in the wood rot’s development, rot spores develop fine grey strands known as hyphae. These strands look similar to cobwebs and extract the moisture from the surrounding timber, eating away at it slowly.
4. Grey or White, Wool-Like Cushions
While mould and mildew are not the same as wood rot, dry rot can cause what’s called white mycelium. White mycelium looks similar to the white mould you’d find on old leftovers. These silky, wool- and cotton-like cushions are produced when the rot needs to spread. The mycelium cushions range in colour from pure white to grey.
5. Mushroom-Like Fruiting Bodies
The fruiting bodies that look rather like mushrooms or pancakes are nearly impossible to miss and indicate a problem that’s existed for a long time. The surfaces of these bodies have wide pores. These wide pores indicate that the rot has fed off the timber as much as possible and is now producing new spores to start another cycle.
6. Damp, Musty Smell
As with most forms of rot, wood rot produces a noticeable damp and musty smell. This smell accompanies any active rot, so if you start to notice the odour in your home, it’s wise to look for the above signs in order to find the source.
Where to Look
While searching your property for signs of wood rot, there are a few key locations to check. It’s important to note that wood cannot rot if it does not get wet, so wood that’s exposed to humidity, rain or other sources of water has the highest risk of rot. Paint can protect wood, but if you notice any cracked or chipped paint, be sure to check the wood underneath in case any moisture got trapped there.
For more areas to check for signs of wood rot, read our blog on the topic.
If you notice any of the above signs in your home or on your property, do not hesitate to call a wood restoration professional. The sooner the problem is addressed, the easier it will be to fix and the less time the process will take.