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What Does Damp Do to Timber Structures?

Timber structures have been used in construction since we learned to use tools all those millennia ago and are popular due to their strength and durability. However, there are a few things that quickly degrade timber structures if left untreated which can lead to expensive problems in your home, such as structural weaknesses and even potential collapse.

timber-dampWhile a fire might spread through a wooden structure rapidly, damp can be one of the worst conditions to affect your property’s timber beams. Similarly, it can happen without you being aware, leading to further problems including wet rot and dry rot.

Many properties in congested cities like London are more at risk due to their older infrastructure and studies have shown that pollution in cities can increase the amount of rainfall received. This can spell bad news for leaky roofs with exposed wooden beams - a classic feature of many period properties.

How Does Damp Affect Timber?

Wood is made up of a huge number of fibres which are designed to hold plenty of water to provide moisture to the tree. Water getting into your property, either through a leaking roof, seeping through porous brickwork or from a split pipe is absorbed by the fibres in the timber, causing the wood to weaken and providing the perfect growing conditions for mould, fungus and rot.

Wet Rot

Timber structures that become overly sodden with water, with a moisture content of at least 20%, are likely to be affected by wet rot. Wet rot is the most common type of fungus attracted to damp conditions and will only occur in areas currently affected by damp, meaning it won’t spread to other dry areas of your home. It is considered to be a less damaging type of rot due to its reluctance to spread, however, it can still attack your timber, damaging fibres and turning wood from a firm structure into a spongy, unstable material.

Dry Rot

Dry rot is widely considered to be a much more harmful type of fungus to experience in your property and occurs in timber with a moisture level between 30-40%. While dry rot requires a damp timber to become established, it can rapidly spread to other areas of your home including doors, door frames and skirting boards. Dry rot makes wooden structures crumble and can leave large decaying cracks along the timber grain, affecting strength and durability.

Both wet and dry rot require professional treatment to find the source of the damp, remove the damp problem and prevent the problem from reoccurring, prior to treating and repairing the timber structures. If you are concerned about your property suffering from wet or dry rot, our London team is available to offer advice or organise a survey for your home. Give us a call on 0208 535 7536 today.

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