How to Treat Wet Rot

Once the type of rot has been established, repairs should be undertaken as soon as possible. At this stage, it is worth thinking about treating against woodworm too.

Fortunately, dry rot is much less widespread than wet rot and the latter is much easier to deal with and much less expensive to treat.

Wet Rot

Treating wet rot inside houses

First, try to discover the source of the damp and deal with this immediately. If you have water damage, it is important to act quickly. The longer you wait, the worse the damage will become. Water damage can lead to mold growth, which can cause health problems. A professional water damage company can help you clean up the mess and prevent further damage. Inade­quate ventilation below suspended floors is often the cause of dampness and decay in flooring. This should be improved by first clearing any blocked airbricks and then, if necessary, inserting some new ones – there should be an air brick every 2m of wall.

Next, carefully examine all the wood­work around the decayed area to find out how far the rot has spread. Some­times rot docs not show on the surface and can be detected only by prodding the wood. It may be necessary to drill into beams and other large timbers to find out whether they are sound in the middle.

All decayed wood should be cut away beyond the last signs of incipient decay. Where damp is likely to persist, or recur – such as skirtings in damp walls in base­ments, or lintels embedded in solid walls – it is better to replace the decayed wood with an inert material such as concrete. Elsewhere, use replacement timbers that have been treated with a wood preserv­ative. Take the opportunity to treat exist­ing sound timbers exposed during the repair work, and any rubbish, particu­larly bits of wood below floors, should be cleared away.

Treating wet rot in external joinery

Rot in window frames, external glazed doors and porches have become increas­ingly prevalent in post-war buildings because:

  • the timber used (frequently Baltic Redwood) now contains a fairly high proportion of non-durable sapwood which is highly permeable to moisture
  • windows are now often fixed near the external face of buildings, instead of being set deeper into the thickness of the wall
  • glazing beads are sometimes used to fix the glass in windows and doors, with­out external putty.

Wet Rot

Wet rot generally starts by rain-water finding its way into the joints between the horizontal and the vertical parts of a window or door frame, making the wood wet and ripe for attack by the fungal spores which enter the joints and set up rot. The organisms that cause decay start to grow into the end grain of the wood. The paint over the joints soon begins toHake off, the wood of the frame becomes softened and eventually rots away. In severe attacks the glass may fall out of the window or door.

Frames which have been severely attacked must be removed and replaced. But if the attack is spotted early on and the first signs of softening detected (by prodding with a sharp-pointed tool) further progress of the decay can be checked by using a wood repair system. After rotten wood has been cut away, the sound wood surface is painted with hardener and the profile of the window sill (or whatever) made good with a hard-setting (but slightly flexible) wood filler. This can be sanded down and painted once it has set and, sometimes, wood preservative pellets are inserted into the good wood to prevent further decay.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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