How to identify fungal decay. AKA Wood rot.

Commonly known as wood rot, fungal decay occurs when exposed, moist timber becomes a great home for timber devouring fungus.  

Fungal decay is often confused for termite damage, but there are tell tale signs that distinguish it from termite damage. 

1. Moisture

It may seem confusing, as termites also also exist in areas of high moisture, however, unlike termites, the fungus needs a constant supply of moisture which it cannot supply in itself; termites can bring up moisture from remote sources.

So when you see wood rot, you'll notice that it is either exposed to the elements, or is in an area where high moisture prevails, either through leaking plumbing or ground levels. 

 The downpipe above this window provided all the moisture required for the window below to rot.

The downpipe above this window provided all the moisture required for the window below to rot.

 And Voilá, wood rot galore! 

And Voilá, wood rot galore! 

 This doorway was right next to a leaky section of the house, the water ingress caused severe wood rot  

This doorway was right next to a leaky section of the house, the water ingress caused severe wood rot  

2. Lack of mudding. 

Termites always seal off their workings with mud, so if there is a damaged area with exposed timber components, then it's unlikely to be caused by termites and is more likely fungal decay.  

upload.jpg

3. Weak, fibrous timber. 

The fungus attacks the lignin, which binds the wood fibers together, once broken down the timber loses its strength completely and can be pulled apart by hand. 

A simple test is to try to make a splinter with the suspect timber,  if you can't then it's more than likely fungal decay.  

 This severely rotted timber came apart easily in the hand, a sharp splinter could not be made with it.  

This severely rotted timber came apart easily in the hand, a sharp splinter could not be made with it.  

 Fungal decay has eaten away at these floorboards. Often the effect is more devastating than termites! 

Fungal decay has eaten away at these floorboards. Often the effect is more devastating than termites! 

 The small shavings of timber are a giveaway that termites didn't eat this. Fungal decay coupled with ants were the culprit.

The small shavings of timber are a giveaway that termites didn't eat this. Fungal decay coupled with ants were the culprit.