Water Damage and Dry Rot

By | September 26, 2013

DIY Tips on Dealing with Dry Rot

Water damage and dry rot usually go together if your house has a lot of woodwork and if the water damage cleanup is not done properly or promptly. A home can easily get damaged by water, and one of the most dreaded effects of such occurrences is dry rot.

Fortunately, it does not grow on just any surface, but mostly on wooden areas. The bad news is, this means your walls and wood floors are at risk. Other woodwork that you may have to check for dry rot include wooden window shutters, window sills, staircases, wooden tables, and wooden chairs.

Aside from that, unlike mildew and mold, dry rot takes a longer time to occur. The good news is, you have more chances of ruling out the possibility of dry rot before it sets in. So as much as possible, act fast when faced with water damage in your home so you won’t have to deal with dry rot.

What is Dry Rot? 

water damage and dry rot

By definition, dry rot refers to the decaying of wood used in buildings and homes that have been exposed to water damage. Dry rot, like mold, is caused by the presence of moisture, which allows fungi to breed and thrive, leading to the deterioration of the wood material.

And since two of the most important parts of the house, which are the walls and the flooring, are often made of wood, dry rot is a serious hazard, one that can cause significant weakening in the very structure of your home.

When faced with a water damage and dry rot problem, the first thing to do is identify the source of moisture and dampness that caused the fungi to grow in the first place. If you do not resolve the moisture or dampness issue, any efforts in removing and treating the wood will be as good as useless.

How to Repair Dry Rot the DIY Way 

water damage and dry rot repair

Dry rot repair involves the removal of the infected wood, treatment of the remaining wood, and replacement of the removed part. For minor water damage and dry rot, you can decide to do the repairs on your own.

For this, you will need a wood stabilizer, a wood filler, a putty knife, and a paint brush, and some sturdy rubber work gloves to protect your hands while you work. Do not handle the wood stabilizer and filler with bare hands since these are toxic substances.

Here are the steps you should follow: 

dry rot wood stabilizer

Step 1: Removed the decayed part of the wood by using a saw or a chisel depending on the extent of damage. Make sure every inch of infected wood is removed; if you leave even an inch of fungi-affected wood, the fungi can just easily spread out again. If you’re sawing into a wall, make sure the surrounding structure is stable. If not, you will risk causing major damage to your home.

Step 2: Treat the healthy wood with a wood stabilizer using the paint-brush. The larger the area, the larger your paint brush should be to speed up the work. Make sure the paint brush you use has not been exposed or has not touched any fungi.

To be sure, buy a new one; just choose a cheaper kind because you won’t be able to use it anymore after this process. After applying an even layer of wood stabilizer all over the uninfected wood, leave it to dry for a few hours.

water damage and dry rot wood filler

Step 3: Once the wood stabilizer is completely dry, apply a thin layer of wood filler. Allow it to dry partially then add another layer.

Step 4: Finish up by sanding the wood and painting it the same color as the original.

Careful Planning Goes A Long Way

Different cases of dry rot differ in difficulty. Dry rot in hardwood flooringand walls will definitely be more challenging than dry rot in some piece of old wooden furniture. Thus, make sure to plan your dry rot repair properly before you begin.

Also, pick a proper time and day for the project. Dry rot repair should be done on a warm day and a dry well-ventilated location, preferably outdoors. This is because dry rot is caused by fungi, which can easily spread in humid conditions.

While you plan, however, don’t forget to include some techniques that will help prevent the onset of dry rot in the future. After all, prevention is always better than remedial action.