Common Causes of wet and dry rot in Buildings and Structures

Common Causes of wet and dry rot in Buildings and Structures

Damp proofing is the process of preventing and/or repairing damage caused by moisture ingress to a structure or building.

In most cases, it is applied to the exterior of a building to keep water out and protect the interior from rot, decay, and mould. However, there are also many interior applications for damp proofing.

In any case, it is a vital part of construction and building maintenance. Damp proofing can be applied to new or existing buildings with varying levels of effectiveness depending on the issue, size, and extent of damage and decay.

A common example would be treating an area that has been continuously exposed to rain, but many other issues might require damp proofing. Placing a new water-resistant barrier and/or fill material (such as dry sand) can prevent moisture from reaching the structure or building.

This is one of the most important steps in constructing anything that will house people; it is directly related to the common causes of wet and dry rot in buildings.

What is wet and dry rot and how do They Differ From Each Other?

Wet rot, also known as spongiform decay, is a wood-destroying fungus that lives off and feeds on cellulose, a substance found in wood and other organic materials.

The fungus can infect any wood, but it is most common in damp weather. Dry rot is the fungus that lives in decayed wood, but it does not feed on cellulose.

It prefers to tunnel through the wood and feed on decaying material or insects living in moist, decaying wood. Dry rot comes in three forms: white, brown, and black.

The difference between wet rot and dry rot is that white rot is easy to spot, as colonies of mushrooms grow on the wood surface, while dry rot tends to stay within the wood and is only identified by the presence of black spots, or scurf. It is important to identify the type of rot present as this determines the best treatment option.

If you would like a more in-depth read on the differences, then read our blog post ‘What is the difference between dry and wet rot?’

What are Some Common Causes of wet and dry rot in Buildings and Structures?

The most common cause of wet rot is moisture.

Moist environments are ideal breeding grounds for the fungus and can lead to damp conditions. Moisture is often the result of water rising or settling to lower levels, or it can be caused by leaking pipes, blocked gutters, damaged roofs, or leaky basements.

Dry rot, on the other hand, can be caused by several causes, including insect infestations, flooding, exposure to chemicals, faulty plumbing, or dead animals. Structural movement is another common culprit, and it also contributes to damp conditions, as musty, unpleasant smells and the decay of wooden beams and joists will indicate.

Since wet rot is commonly found in buildings, and it often occurs following heavy rainfall, it is advisable to incorporate some preventative or waterproofing measures into any construction or renovation. Dry rot, on the other hand, is always found in old buildings, and it tends to develop in wall cavities.

Since dry rot only occurs in wood, it is more frequently found in dry goods like furniture, crates, and pallets, but it occurs on almost any wooden surface. Dry rot is a more destructive form of rot than wet rot, as its spores can contaminate building materials and wooden objects, which in turn can spread the fungi to other sections of the building.

It is easy to identify dry rot by the presence of black spots, or scurf. The golden rule for dealing with wood is to treat it like any living organism.

Moisture, light, and air are the three essential elements needed to sustain it. Water and air are absorbed by the wood’s pores, causing it to swell, while the light is essential to photosynthesis, a process in which plants convert light energy into chemical energy.

Dry rot is one of the many parasites that take advantage of these vital elements of wood. Wood treated with chemicals like preservatives or preservatives is less likely to be affected.

What Should you do if you Think you Have wet or dry rot in Your Structure?

If you suspect that your property has wet or dry rot, you must first identify the source of the moisture and correct the problem before attempting to remove the wet or dry rot.

A specialist should be consulted if your building has structural or landscape issues. If the problem occurs in a cavity, such as a wall, it is critical to have a specialist assess the situation.

Structural deterioration should not be overlooked because it can result in issues such as foundation fractures or water leaks. Wet rot can be treated directly, such as by removing it and filling the resulting cavity with cement, or by sealing the spot.

If the problem persists, a damp proof course should be installed; for this, you can contact a damp proofing company, who will offer a variety of services to try to solve the problem, including structural repairs, wall or floor crack filling, membrane installation, and more, in short, anything that can help to solve any damp problems you may have.

Are There any Long-Term Effects of Having wet or dry rot in a Building or Structure?

Fungi can lead to wet and dry rotting, and numerous moulds can cause problems.

Wet rots are most common in damp, poorly ventilated environments and can cause structural damage, premature structural failure (which can sometimes cost thousands to repair), other problems such as mould, wood rots, and sometimes even respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis. Dry rots, on the other hand, are most common in dry, warm environments, such as walls.

Dry rot can cause structural damage, such as wood rot, as well as respiratory problems. This includes wood rots ranging from minor to severe.

When structures are treated with chemicals such as preservatives, the structure suffers and the structure’s life is significantly reduced. In short, wet rots, dry rots, and the chemical treatments used to treat them can reduce the life of any building or structure, so immediate action is required.


Wet and dry rot are two different types of moulds that grow on building materials such as wood.

They can cause significant damage to structures, but they differ in how quickly they spread and the type of material on which they will grow. The easiest way to tell if you have wet or dry rot is by identifying its smell; wet rot smells like raw potatoes while dry rot has a fruity smell.

If you suspect you might have either mould, call an expert who can diagnose it for sure so that repairs may be made immediately before the problem becomes worse. While there aren’t any long-term effects from having one type of mould over another, once repaired both should be prevented from returning using preventative measures outlined by your contractor.