Timber Decay – How to Spot it and What to Do

Timber is a fantastic material and it has many advantages. Your builders merchant in North Wales will tell you that there are many different types of timber and they all offer excellent benefits when constructing a property. However, like everything in this world – it doesn’t last forever. It will last for many years, but as it is a natural material it will start to decay unless it is looked after. The good news is that timber will last for many lifetimes if it is looked after well. That is why it is important to understand what timber decay is and how you should deal with it.


Spotting Timber Decay

Timber decay, otherwise known as rot, is caused by a biological attack that occurs within the wood by a certain species of fungi. This fungus might have been lying dormant in the timber for years until the right conditions present themselves. When the conditions are perfect – such as when there is a lot of moisture and oxygen in the wood – the fungi will start to grow. This is why it is so important to prevent the timber from getting wet.

When the fungus grows it will develop into grey or white sheets that resemble cotton wool, with tiny orange spots. Sometimes fruiting bodies that resemble mushrooms will start to grow through the plaster and the paint work. When these fruiting bodies start to produce red spores, which are usually the first visible sign of the problem.

The fungus will go on a rampage through the building, destroying anything in its path. It thrives in moist and unventilated conditions and it can quickly destroy a structure. One of the main issues is that it often occurs within the areas of the property that are less visible, such as behind panelling or in the floor voids. This means that it will do a lot of damage to the property before it is noticed. If the first sign you have of the fungus is when you start to see the red spores, it’s already way too late. The timber will be entirely decayed and it will crumble away between your fingers.

Keep a close eye on the structure of your building so that you will notice these issues before they become serious, so they will be much easier to treat.

Treating Dry Rot

If you have found dry rot within your home, you will need to remove all of the affected timber – including that within a metre of the infected area. There are chemical fungicide treatments that are available, but they are not always necessary. You will also need to dry out all of your timber as soon as it is possible. The better approach is to make sure that dry rot never occurs by preventing the damp conditions it needs to thrive.

Pay attention to the way that moisture can get into the timber and prevent this any way you can, by using flashing, drainage and adequate ventilation. Make sure that you use pre-treated timber products or durable hardwood species in problem areas. You can also apply aftermarket timber preservatives in order to kill existing decay or prevent decay. Another important thing to do is to apply a surface coating or a timber finish so that you can minimize the exposure that the wood has to moisture. Your timber supplier in North Wales can give you advice on which timber will have the highest resistance to moisture and would be the best choice for your building project.

It is possible to place remote monitoring systems at all critical points within your walls after building works. These areas can then be closed up but the moisture content of the inaccessible timbers can still be monitored. For example, they can be placed within joist ends, lintels, valley gutter soles or any other spot. The readings from the sensors can be taken by an automatic monitoring system which will determine the water content of the building materials.

Danger of Collapse

Keep in mind that if you discover that your structural timber is affected by decay, then the safety of your home is at potential risk of collapse. In this situation it is very important to have a building inspector determine if the timber is still structurally sound.

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