There is an airborne sickness that causes billions of dollars of damage every year, and it’s not just COVID-19. Dry rot is a pandemic affecting the health of millions of homes, and there is no escaping it.
Here on the Central Coast, dry rot spores permeate the air at all times. You probably breathed some in today without realizing it, but the repercussions are much higher if they find their way into your home. The coastal winds and moisture create conditions that are incredibly inviting for dry rot to take over.
Dry rot, or Serpula Lacrymans, is a Basidiomycete fungus in the Boletales clade. For those who aren’t mycologists, the Boletales are fungi whose spores are discharged from underneath their mushroom cap, and the Basidiomycetes are destructive fungi known for their unique adaptations for degrading and colonizing organic material.
Beginning as spores, dry rot colonizes wood with moisture levels between 20-30%, and begins to establish a fungal body in the material. The fungus feeds on the wood, and leaves the cell walls crumbly and brittle. Eventually, the spores connect together and create the body of the rot, called the mycelium. This has a whitish color and a fluffy texture, and will spread the fungus as far as it can. Once the fungus begins to run out of nutrients it starts to grow sporophores, which are pancake shaped patches that release spores into the air, starting the cycle anew.
Part of why dry rot is so successful at what it does is that it is able to transport water and nutrients across its body. This means that dry rot fungus can spread to areas lacking in moisture and nutrients, although it cannot transfer water to otherwise dry timber in order to wetten it. The branching hyphae, or roots, of the fungi allow it colonize areas that would be otherwise unreachable by other types of rot.
The way that dry rot branches out is what makes it so hard to stop, because it can spread to masonry or plaster and spread to more wood from there. While dry rot won’t feed on these surfaces, nor significantly destabilize them, it is possible for dry rot to remain on a non-wood surface after the dry rot affecting the wood has been removed. Because of this, there can be recurring dry rot colonies even after the obvious rot has been removed.
Whenever fighting a virus, you need to fully understand the virus before you can make a vaccine. So if your home contracts a dry rot colony, make sure to know your enemy. Here at R+Co., we have extensive knowledge of dry rot far beyond the scope of this article, and pride ourselves on the cutting edge technology we use as our vaccines against dry rot.