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What Is Basement Dry Rot and How Do You Treat It?

What Is Basement Dry Rot and How Do You Treat It
What Is Basement Dry Rot and How Do You Treat It

As you may know, moisture in your basement can indicate structural problems in your home and promote mold and fungi growth. Dry rot is one thing that can negatively affect the look of your basement as well as the air quality. What is basement dry rot, and how do you treat it? You’ll find the answers in this post.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a condition in which structures break down and crack due to certain fungus species. People used to think that it didn’t require any moisture to form, but in reality, dry rot requires moisture. This is why it’s common in basements, where wet conditions often prevail. Dry rot can affect dank wood, concrete, and mortar surfaces. Dry rot doesn’t need as much moisture to grow as other fungi and can develop in conditions containing only a fraction of the dampness levels required by common organisms like molds. In that sense, it’s drier than the norm.

Mould and wood rot on a window frame and wall

What Does Dry Rot Look Like?

The fungus that causes dry rot is called Serpula lacrymans, and it looks like an orange-brown growth that often has white edges. The dry rot life cycle consists of four main stages.

Fungal growth
  1. Mycelium growth – Mycelium growth will appear as a white or grey cotton wool-like substance. Mycelium can spread extensively across numerous building materials in search of a new food source, like wood.
  2. Fruiting body (Sporophore) – The fruiting body or sporophore can be identified by its “pizza-like” appearance. Most of these round-shaped fruiting bodies are a rusty deep red color, while the outer parts appear as a lighter white color.
  3. Affected wood – Dry rot removes the moisture trapped inside of wood. If you notice shrunken, warped, or brittle wood, you can bet you’ve got dry rot.
  4. Dry rot smell – Another indication you have dry rot is the damp, musty, fungal smell. The dry rot can start to affect the air quality in your home.

How To Prevent Dry Rot

Now that you know what basement dry rot is let’s move on to how you can treat it. To stop dry rot from spreading and developing in the future, you need to locate the source of the moisture. The best way to deal with it is to waterproof your basement. Basement waterproofing professionals can take action to prevent unwanted moisture from collecting in the space.

For instance, they can apply epoxy injections to seal up existing cracks in the basement walls. Furthermore, basement professionals can set up a sump pump to move water from the ground around your basement to a community drain. This will prevent more cracks in the basement from forming. The measures that a basement waterproofing company takes depend on the kinds of gaps and openings they find as they evaluate the source of the dry rot.

Dry rotting wood timbers with rusted nails in sunrise lighting on an old farm structure.

The Real Seal

If you’re having dry rot issues in your basement, call The Real Seal for basement waterproofing in Chicago, IL. We can locate the structural issues leading to unwanted dampness and address them appropriately so that they won’t reappear.


Austin Werner

Austin Werner is the Owner of The Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing and foundation repair company. Austin believes that having a highly trained and happy team is the key to success. This is reflected through hundreds of 5 star customer reviews his company has received online.

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