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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Dry Rot in Central Oregon: Where, How & What to Do

6/28/2021 (Permalink)

More than 90 percent of all new homes are designed with wood serving as the primary material. Both natural and abundant, wood gives homes their shape while enhancing certain design elements that are pleasing to the eye.

Its most essential responsibility, however, is establishing a home’s structural integrity.

From beams, trusses, and joists to roofing, siding, and window frames, both builders and homeowners rely on wood to protect the longevity and safety of the structure while also protecting what, to most of us, is the most significant investment of our lives.

That’s why we at SERVPRO of Bend have determined that safeguarding a home from an all-to-common issue like dry rot is so critical.

If left undetected and untreated, dry rot can jeopardize a home’s structural integrity as well as its value. This can lead to safety issues, diminished home values, and thousands of dollars in future repair costs.

What is Dry Rot?

First off, the term “dry rot” is a bit of a misnomer.

Dry rot is a type of wood decay caused by a fungus called Serpula lacrymans. This type of fungus feeds on wood and timber, and for it to grow and spread, it needs a higher-than-normal level of moisture.

So, for dry rot to occur in a home, an excess moisture level must first exist. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways for such levels of wetness to penetrate a home. These can include a leaky roof, undetected drippings from a pipe, or high moisture levels at or near the foundation of the house.

However, the moisture gets there, over time, it can permeate the wood that helps the fungus grow and breed. As it does, the fungus feeds on the wood, causing it to weaken and rot.

Despite this moisture-dependent structural breakdown, the affected wood can often feel dry and stiff to the touch.

To make matters worse, dry rot can spread through moisture-rich areas due to the release of airborne spores. So if your home’s crawl space is excessively humid, all the wood near your home’s foundation is at risk of dry rot.

This certainly isn’t a pleasant thought.

What Are the Signs of Dry Rot?

Unlike seemingly more extreme water damage caused by sudden pipe bursts, roof damage, or waterline leaks, dry rot often appears silently. But don’t let that fool you.

Under the right conditions, dry rot can spread quickly. It’s a fungi that is known to cause damage in areas of homes in, near, or around:

  • Windows & Doors
  • Basements & Crawl Spaces
  • Wet Rooms (Bathrooms, Kitchen, Laundry Room, or any room with a plumbing fixture)
  • Attics (Caused by roof damage or improper ventilation)
  • Outdoor Siding & Decks

Regardless of where it occurs, the signs you may be dealing with (or soon will be dealing with) dry rot are relatively obvious. They include:

Wet or Moist Areas: Areas that are humid or improperly ventilated are prime spots for dry rot, whether that’s under your home or in the attic. Also, if you find leaks or condensation anywhere in your home – around windows, under sinks, near pipes, etc., you should also consider the possibility of dry rot.

Damp Smells: As a fungi, dry rot – as it grows and spreads – puts off a relatively distinct smell often  described as damp, stale, or “mushroomy.” If you notice such smells in your home, be aware that dry rot (or, at the very least, water/moisture damage) may be the cause.

Swelling or Discoloration: If hidden around windowsills, in walls, along floorboards, etc., dry rot can cause areas of the interior to swell, discolor or become softer to the touch. Such signs can also show up outdoors, often near the bottom or along the seams of siding.

Wood Discoloration or Fungal Growth: An obvious sign to be sure, if you see this under a sink, in the attic, or under your home, you’re likely witnessing dry rot in action. In turn, this should cause you to spring into action.

What Do I Do?

If you suspect dry rot is eating away at the wood in, under, over, or around your house, don’t assume the damage is already done. You must limit the damage before it spreads any further.

This includes, of course, determining the source of your home’s excess moisture and correcting it, so your dry rot issue doesn’t return.

At SERVPRO of Bend, our mold removal team is trained and highly experienced in dry rot and mold remediation, applied microbial remediation, water damage restoration, and applied structural drying.

After taking care of your source of water or excess moisture, our team will:

  • Inspect and assess the damage
  • Contain the area using a negative air pressure system
  • Filter the air in the infected areas
  • Remove the fungi materials
  • Clean and restore the area and its contents

We provide these as both scheduled and emergency services. And, if you require these services as part of an insurance claim, know that while it’s OK for an insurance company to suggest a service provider, it’s your right to choose the mold remediation service provider you desire.

To learn more or schedule your initial mold assessment, call us at (541) 385-7044.

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