If one thing is for sure, you do not want dry rot in your property. It’s like the plague; it spreads and infects all in its path. The truth is that if left to its own devices, it can destroy a whole building.

A healthy building should never experience dry rot in its lifetime. Dry rot is a fungus, also known as Serpula lacrymans and requires specific environmental effects to flourish. Over the years, we have seen some alarming cases of dry rot in properties. Repairs have cost £100,000 or more in some cases, but thankfully your insurance company should cover you in the event of a dry rot outbreak.

Given the seriousness of dry rot, if you think your property might be at risk, you get a professional to assess the damage immediately and carry out a thorough survey of the property.

The environment for dry rot and why it can occur

Dry rot occurs in poorly ventilated areas in buildings and favours dark, damp conditions to develop. Dry rot can occur with moisture levels as low as 20%.

Dry rot can occur for a number of reasons; often leaking pipes (from washing machines, radiators, etc.), as well externally from gutters, downpipes and leaks from defects in the roof. Keeping on top of repairs and maintenance for your property is so important to mitigate the risk.

Old buildings (pre-1990) suffer from inherent defects in structural design arising from the extensive use of embedded load-bearing timbers in the main walls. These timbers are in the form of lintels behind brick arches over window openings, built over bays and larger openings to support the brickwork above. Also, they create wall plates taking the end bearings of floor joists built into main walls, and bond timbers used within thick walls close to the outer wall face to even the coursing of brickwork. All such embedded woods are susceptible to decay brought about by the effects of penetrating dampness. These places are usually out of sight, meaning that by the time signs of damage are noticed the fungus has already established itself.

Dry rot spreads rapidly through timber and also passes through other building materials to continue its growth; this is why it is so serious.

“Dry rot is known to multiply rapidly through a structure. I have seen it grow as fast as 10 feet in 2 weeks in ideal conditions and there are recorded growth rates of at least 4 meters in 12 months from the source.”

Robert Tiffin

Tell tail signs…

  1. Signs of timber shrinkage
  2. Change of texture in the wood
  3. Cracks in the timber in a cuboidal manner
  4. A musty smell
  5. Signs of mycelium – a fine white fungus found on the wood as well as brickwork if the dry rot has passed through it.
  6. Growth of orange fungus, often with red dust spores


Dry rot treatment

Whether there is ingress of water from external defects or a water leak, the cause of the moisture must be first be stopped. Without this, moisture will continue to damage the timber. Once the original cause of dampness is removed, the wood needs to dry out. The affected timbers should be removed, cut out and replaced with pre-treated wood. The remaining wood should be treated with a fungicidal spray to eliminate the risk of any traces of dry rot. If it suspected that the dry rot has also passed through other materials, such as masonry, then this should be treated accordingly.

Without a source of food (wood), growth will quickly cease, and the fungus eventually dies. However, research shows that in the laboratory, the food reserves in the mycelium may allow up to 20% growth before it stops spreading. This has important implications in control measures. Theoretically, it could enable it to infect the adjacent non-infected wood even though the source is gone, but mycelium left, for example, on damp brickwork. This makes it imperative to carry out thorough exposure work such as removing bricks to check if mycelium strands grow between the brickwork mortar joists, and where seen, continue to treat one meter beyond these areas.

If you have concerns about dry rot in your property, please contact us to discuss, and we can arrange a detailed assessment to provide the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Replaced Garage

Robert and the team replaced my old garage (with an asbestos roof) with a very nice larger garage. Everything was done when they said it would be. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. I would definitely use Tiffin again.

Barbara, Hertfordshire

Highly Recommended

Robert Tiffin successfully diagnosed and treated the increasing damp in the cellar of our old house, something several previous firms had failed to do. He was professional and efficient and provided an excellent report.

Susan, Middlesex

Excellent Work

Tiffin handled all the aspects of the job really well, keeping us informed and sourcing high quality materials. They did a good job of organising all the various trades to do their parts in an efficient manner.

Matt P, Buckinghamshire

Professional and polite service, fair and reasonable price

The “Tiffin difference” was immediately noticeable. We were left with a strong sense that Robert and the team were professional and reliable in their approach. We will be using Tiffin for our next project.

Craig R, Hertfordshire

Unhesitatingly Recommended

Robert Tiffin is helpful and professional. His advice is sound and he will save you money where he can. Not surprisingly, the people he employs are also hard working and professional. Schedules are maintained and when work is completed everywhere is left clean and tidy. I have no hesitation in recommending them.

John D, Buckinghamshire


Excellent advice on cause of damp in converted block of flats and successful repairs too. Extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of causes of building failure and damage and reinstatement for insurance purposes too. Highly recommended.

Steven Lazarus, London

Professional firm with high standards

Eco Tiffin sorted out my damp problem in an outbuilding, insulated and decorated it, turning it into a pleasant and very usable storeroom. Their knowledge and experience inspired confidence, and I felt that I was given honest advice about the most sensible way to pursue this project, without wasting money unnecessarily.

Neena Bush, Hertfordshire

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