Dry Rot in Whetstone

IMG_true dry rot under stairsThe village of Whetstone in Leicestershire is renowned as the site of the factory where Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle’s (OM KBE CB FRS FRAeS)  jet engines were developed. He has been credited with single-handedly inventing the turbojet engine.

But something far, far slower was decaying the timber in a local terraced cottage in the village.  The current owner Mrs Moulds discovered fungal decay to her laminate kitchen floor and contacted Rentokil Property Care to investigate the problem.

The property was surveyed by Midlands Branch manager Mark Kirk CSRT CSSW, whose detailed survey found evidence of decay by the True Dry Rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans). In unventilated conditions the cotton wool like fungal growth can have water droplets on it. Hence the name Serpula lacrymans which is derived from the Latin words serpula for “creeping” and lacrymans, meaning “tears”, as the water may appear as tear like droplets on the tips of the hyphae.

The fungus can develop in poorly ventilated spaces with high moisture content. Although the Dry Rot fungus feeds on wood, it is quite effective at colonising non-wood building materials such as plaster, brick and stone in search of more timber.

dry rot fruiting bodiesThe signs of Dry Rot in the cottage showed that it had spread from the adjacent staircase and wall panelling into the kitchen.  The original cause of the outbreak was due to poor ventilation to the under stairs timbers, where the bottom two steps were boxed in and were situated above a damp earth floor. Further investigation under the floor revealed infected building debris had been left behind by previous builders.

Rentokil Property Care’s effective solution to treat the Dry Rot was to remove and dispose of the lower staircase timbers, damaged laminate and infected plaster.  The masonry was sterilised, and a new solid floor laid in the under stairs area. Then the stairs were replaced, a new air vent fitted to ventilate the enclosed two bottom steps (known as kite winders) and the affected walls were re-plastered.

Rentokil’s Dry Rot treatment offered Mrs Moulds a long term 30 year guarantee, giving her peace of mind that her stairs were protected for some time to come.


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