Wet Rot

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Wet Rot - how to diagnose

Wet Rots are extremely easy to confuse with the one and only Dry Rot, so it is important to look for several typical characteristics - a single piece of evidence can be misleading.

If in doubt contact one of our Qualified Timber Surveyors on 01626 872886 and send us some photographs of the site. Try not to destroy the evidence of Wet Rot until a firm diagnosis has been confirmed - you may also wish to advise your Building's Insurers, in case the water that caused the rot came from a leak that may be covered by your Buildings Insurance Policy.

Wet Rot must be taken seriously because it can long term structural damage and insect attack, but unlike Dry Rot, which can travel across dry areas, Wet Rots are entirely limited to the wet area and cannot travel. Always consult a Qualified expert - we can provide Contact Details for PCA Surveying and Contracting Members in your area.

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Wet Rot - main features

Look for these typical parts of the Wet Rot Life Cycle:

1. Strands - called 'hyphae' - like thin tree roots -

from brilliant white to black - flexible when dried out, according to type.

(Unlike Dry Rot, where Strands snap easily when dry).

Wet Rot strands of Coniophora Puteana

2. Skin - called 'mycellium' - can be a brilliant white colour to

black (NOT silvery to dirty off white, like Dry Rot).

Wet Rot skin of Poria

3. Mushroom - called a 'fruiting body' or 'Sporophore'

- rarely seen in Wet Rots, but never rust red like Dry Rot.

These are Elf Cup, a plaster fungi associated with very wet areas.

Plaster fungi Elf Cup

4. Dust - called 'spores' - rarely found. But wood boring insect dust is

often found with Wet Rots, especially Wood Boring Weevil,

which leaves tiny, ragged edged holes.

Wet Rot with Wood Boring Weevil

5. Wood shrinkage - called 'cubing' - the wood forms lots of small ,

cubes with a slow loss of volume and sometimes creasing

(unlike Dry Rot which cracks deeply along the wood grain

and forms much large rectangular cubes).

It is unusual to find all of these together in one attack area,

so try to uncover the full extent of the rot and look closely for

each type of symptom. Remember that Wet Rot,

which requires a long term, very high moisture content

can often be found in the same area as Dry Rot simply

because some parts are wetter than others.

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Not Wet Rot - Dry Rot examples


1. Strands - dirty off white to silver grey - brittle when dry

- Dry Rot - Serpula Lacrymans

Dry Rot strands on wood - note the deep cracks along the frain and the concave curved shrinkage

2. Skin - dirty off white to silver - Dry Rot - Serpula Lacrymans

Dry Rot skin hanging from a wall under a timber floor

3. Mushroom - vivid rust red colour, with off white edges.

Very distinctive, but rare - confirms Dry Rot.

Dry Rot mushroom or 'fruiting body'

4. Dust - dust coming from a Dry Rot mushroom,

or Sporophore - very distinctive, but rare. Confirms Dry Rot.

Dry Rot Spores covering objects like a brown sprayed paint


5. Shrinkage - large rectangular cubing, deep splits along the wood

grain. Easily mistaken for a Wet Rot.


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Site written by: David Moore

David Moore, B.A. (Hons.), C.T.I.S., C.R.D.S. Technical Author