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Wood Rot vs Termite Damage: What’s Eating Your Home?

Homeowners may wonder what is causing the damaged wood in their homes. Besides termites, the main threat to structural timber is wood rot. Specifically, wet rot and dry rot are two types of fungal decay. It is crucial that damage from termites and wood rot is distinguished, it requires professional diagnosis and different kinds of treatment.

In this article, we go through identifying wood rot and termite damage, and explain the main differences between wood rot and termite damage. So keep reading to learn more.

Signs Of Termite Damage In Wood

You may notice clear evidence that termites are active in your house. Some outward signs of termite damage in wood include:

  • Excessively squeaky floors.
  • Buckling wooden floor boards.
  • Blisters in wooden flooring that look like tiny bubbles.
  • Sometimes you may see wood shavings, or wood that looks splintered.
  • Swollen floors and/or ceilings.
  • Hollow-sounding wood when tapped on. When termites feed on the cellulose in the wood, the wood becomes brittle and hollow after some time.
  • Small but visible pinholes in the wall.
  • Discolored or drooping drywall.
  • Areas that look like there’s been minor water damage.
  • Peeling paint that looks like water damage.
  • Visible mazes within wooden furniture or walls. Parts of the infested wood will look like they’ve been entirely carved and tunneled-through by termites.
  • Besides, you may notice a smell similar to mold or mildew caused by a termite infestation.

What Is Wood Rot And How Do You Know You Have Wood Rot?

There are two main types of wood rot, namely wet rot and dry rot. Let’s discuss both of them.

Wet rot is a species of timber-eating fungus, the most common type being Coniophora Puteana, but there are many other variations of this fungus.

Wet rot will be found in houses that have unprotected timber elements. It is most often found in roofs, basements, and in timber parts around windows.

Wet rot is caused by moisture being absorbed into the wood and occurs when excess moisture is present in the wood over a long period of time. The fungus feeds on moisture and draws nutrients from the moist wood, which helps it to sustain itself. It spreads by emitting spores into the air that land on a fresh wet wood surface that it will feed on again. So in general, this type of decay affects wet wood, causing it to soften.

When looking for wet rot, pay attention to:

  • Patches on wood that appear darker than surrounding timber.
  • Soft and spongy wood.
  • Fungus growth accumulated in certain areas of the wood.
  • Shrinkage of the wood.
  • Cracking timber that crumbles to the touch when dry
  • A damp, musty smell.

Dry rot is another type of wood-destroying fungus and it’s the most harmful form of fungal decay. It doesn’t require any source of moisture to spread as it’s able to produce moisture through the digestion of wood.

It attacks wooden structures where it feeds on key parts of the timber that give it its strength. Once the fungus spreads, it will severely damage the structural integrity of your house.

It is not easy to identify dry rot, especially when it’s still in its early stages. It is only later in the life cycle the clear evidence of dry rot occurs, showing symptoms such as fruiting bodies and mycelium, which is a root-like structure of the fungus. Dry rot covers the affected wood like a cobweb.

So if you want to identify dry rot, look for:

  • Fluffy and fine mycelium spreading all over the timber. It resembles a mass of white cotton wool with thread-like branches. Brittle strands can also develop.
  • Mushroom-like fruiting bodies. These are soft and fleshy, and look like pancakes with wide pores, usually orange in color, and rust-colored in the center
  • Around fruiting bodies, there might be red dust from spore dispersal.
  • Shrinkage of the wood.
  • Timber areas that have darkened.
  • Dry and crumbly wood that will crack and split into small cubes.

All in all, dry wood rot is more dangerous than wet wood rot as wet rot is limited to the damp area only. If you believe you may have dry rot, it’s vital to schedule a professional inspection and treat it as soon as possible. If the dry rot is not identified and treated in time, it may be necessary to remove and replace all of the affected wood structures. However, wet rot still needs to be treated as it can affect the structural integrity of your house.

Does Wood Rot Always Attract Termites?

First of all, all termites require wood and most termite species need a lot of moisture in order to survive. This is why the wood that’s been exposed to large amounts of water over extended periods of time and is rotting, is particularly attractive to these pests. So you may safely assume that wood rot always attracts termites.

Dry rot can attract a colony of termites. These insects treat the softened wood as their ideal habitat and food source to sustain.

However, while wet wood begins to rot, termites don’t usually start consuming dry wood straight away. So if you notice some parts of your wood are damaged, there’s a good chance it is a fungus and not termites. But if the wood that’s suffering from damage is wet, this could be a sign that you’re dealing with a termite infestation.

Chem Free Exterminating has been serving Los Angeles and the Orange County region since 1989. Our experience in eradicating termite infestations, combined with our professional services, brings high customer satisfaction ratings. Contact us today for more information on termite removal, and possibly an inspection. We will give you peace of mind!