Wet rot in N.I. homes

Wet rot, or Coniophora Puteana, (I know, lets just use the term wet rot) is the most common form of rot found in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It’s common because it needs wetter conditions than it’s friend dry rot and lets face it, our weather consists mostly of damp and wet.

Although dry rot is commonly regarded as being the worst type of rot to have in your home, you really don’t want the wet variety either. This is because the presence of any type of rot suggests there are issues with dampness in the building. Although dry rot is still the more difficult to get rid of, the presence of wet rot suggests that the dampness or water ingress into the building is worse as timbers within your home need to be a lot wetter for the wet type to take hold.

Where do you find wet rot in your home?

Wet rot, as the name suggests requires wet conditions, or to be more specific a moisture content of between 50 - 60%. This requirement for wet conditions can also be it’s downfall as it can’t survive in timbers where the moisture content drops below 43%.

What causes it?

An outbreak of this type of rot is caused by a spore from another outbreak of wet rot possibly in another property lands on timber within your property that has a moisture content of between 50-60%. The spore then germinates and sends out tiny strands  (hyphae) into the timber where it feeds on the moisture and sugar content within that timber.

Stopping it:

If you do have wet rot it can be stopped by finding the source of moisture ingress and stopping it. So it could be a matter of fixing a leaking pipe, reducing the condensation levels or repairing the fabric of the building to stop penetrating damp etc. The long and short of it is that you need to stop the source of moisture and allow the timbers to dry out.

Which is where a good surveyor comes in. They should have the experience and equipment to tell which timbers are wet and then they should be able to track the problem back to coming up with the cause of the damp ingress.

Surveyors role:

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As with any type of rot, it isn’t always immediately visible to the untrained eye.

Your surveyor should be looking for lots of different indicators that may point towards wet rot. They'll take moisture readings with specialised equipment (if your surveyor is just using the old 2 pin moisture meters you should probably be asking questions as these on their own only produce vague results at best). We use the latest moisture meters that use two different forms of moisture detection as well as a hygrometer to calculate relative humidity and dew point. 

I’ve come across lots of surveyors in my own experience who simply use the most basic “damp meters” (the ones with the two metal prongs) until they get a high reading. At which point they stop looking and ask you to get a specialist damp report. 

It is essential that your surveyor does NOT stop once they get high readings from their “damp meter”. This should be just the starting point.

They should then carry out other investigations to try to establish whether or not it is indeed damp or just high conductivity readings (which could be from many things such as ferris metals or salts etc.) by using different types of measurement device.

They should also be able to track the issue back as far as they can (within the scope of the chosen report) to suggest what the cause of the dampness is likely to be.

Given that most pre-sale surveys, carried out on behalf of buyers, are surface inspections, it's really important to choose a surveyor who will follow these clues right through to try to find out what the cause of the problem is.

If you’re considering buying a house in Belfast, Lisburn, Bangor, Newtownabbey or Carrickfergus, In fact anywhere in Counties Antrim or Down, simply request a call back and we’ll call you to go discuss your options.

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