Dry rot—it sounds contradictory, right? How can something be both dry and rotting? Don’t let its puzzling name distract you, though; dry rot is a serious siding and roofing problem, and left alone, it can quickly spread throughout your home, decimating everything in its path.
Tony’s Lifetime Exteriors is here to shed a bit of light on this troubling topic, from what it is to how to deal with it to how to prevent it from happening in the future.
This term is actually used to refer to a wide variety of exterior and interior problems, but there’s one thing that’s undeniable: dry rot, to put it bluntly, is mold—a destructive type of mold, in fact. While most mold species tend to make pretty localized infestations, types of dry rot are unique in that they can extend their “roots,” called mycelium, meters away from the central colony. This part of the fungus rapidly drains what it touches of moisture and nutrients.
That spells bad news for anything it happens to want to feed on. But the good news is that dry rot eats only one thing: wood. While it can reach across non-wood objects, it feeds solely on that organic compound, making other materials pretty much impervious.
Dry rot does require some moisture to grow, as does all fungi, though it uses very little. It also has a preferred temperature very similar to those many homes are kept at, making it a particularly dastardly foe and tough to eliminate in some cases.
Again, the term is used rather loosely in the roofing, siding, and interior worlds; a variety of mold species, all of them problematic on various scales, can be dubbed “dry rot.” Though in some cases it might be hard to find, it’s easy to spot if you’re looking straight at it. Look for peely growths in shades of orange, brown, or yellow, or gray, root-like structures. Some species may resemble foam insulation in everything but texture.
And it goes without saying, but dry rot needs wood to feed on, so you should primarily search for it in pertinent locations like pure wood siding or roofing. Attic structures, if your roofing isn’t properly maintained by a roofing contractor, can also be at risk.
Aside from knowing what it looks like, a variety of tools and procedures can help you locate this destructive group of fungi if you worry that your home has a problem.
For one, it often will have a musty smell. You’re more likely to notice this smell in a poorly ventilated space that harbors dry rot, such as your attic. In fact, a lack of ventilation can actually lead to mold issues, as we’ve talked about in our roofing contractor blog, “Poor Roofing Ventilation: Descriptions and Consequences.” Enclosed spaces are therefore the first ones you should check if you fear fungi.
Wood that gives easily when prodded with a screwdriver is often infested. It will often flake away in chips, so be careful if you’re using this method to spot dry rot—though the mold may have already done structural damage, you don’t want to do any more yourself! Always call a pro for serious mold remediation; check out the CDC’s website for more information on that topic.
Proper home maintenance is key to preventing any sort of mold damage, dry rot included. Because it can target both interior and exterior home facets, a comprehensive approach is needed to protect your belongings and loved ones.
As we stated earlier, dry rot only feeds on wood. While mold may grow on other siding types if they are left in the shade and neglected, they will not have nearly as extensive a damaging potential as dry rot. If you’re serious about keeping your home in one piece—and who isn’t?—your best bet is to opt for replacement with a reputable siding company immediately if your home is currently clad in wood siding.
That doesn’t mean you need to part with the lovely looks wood siding provides, though! Many types of vinyl and engineered wood siding have similar appearances while faring much better in terms of fungal defense. They’re also affordable, meaning you don’t need to break the bank to ensure a stable home.
It’s easy for a leaky or poorly ventilated roof to become a hotbed for mold problems. Since you’re probably not up there frequently, fungi can fly under the radar for quite some time before the problems become so severe that they seep into other household areas.
Monitoring is, of course, critical, but so is keeping up with storm damage repair and seasonal roofing inspections. To do its job and protect your family while keeping mold out, your roof needs to be in strapping good health—and only a pro has the know-how to make sure that happens.
Whether you’re in need of new siding or roof repair, our Sauk Rapids team can provide it. Give us a call today at 320-252-9086.