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Wood decay fungus (fungi – plural)

By: Jasna Aleksandrova

One of the most destroying organisms that can affect wooden structure of your home is wood decay fungus (wood destroying fungus). Researches around country show that wood decay fungi causes more damage to wooden structures of our homes than all termite attacks, floods and fires combined. This is a big problem and should be treated with care. To grow and survive, as every leaving organism on the planet, wood destroying fungi requires four basic elements: oxygen, favorable temperature, water and food. This terrible destroyer is likely to occur when the moisture content of wood exceeds 20%, temperature reaches between 32 and 90 degrease Fahrenheit, and there is adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen. The wood decay fungi feeds off of cells in wood by secrete enzymes that break down fibers in to a usable food. Breaking down the fibers of wood significantly reduces its strength, resulting in rotting, and destroying the structural integrity of the wooden components in the crawl space. If the condition continues over a longer period of time weakened, sagging floors, and rotted sill plates can occur. Proper sealing and encapsulating the crawl space is necessary to control excessive moisture and to prevent insect attack, mold and wood decay fungus to grow. There are four recognized wood decay fungi.

Water conducting fungi

Water conducting fungi is a type of brown rot fungus that do not need water leak to grow. Most wood decay fungi relay on a water source to obtain required amount of water to grow. This is not principle with water conducting fungi because they have developed a special form of root like tubes that conduct water. That’s why even in situations where wood is protected from water leaks and moisture it can be affected by water conducting fungi. When established on the wood they can quickly spread and destroy not just wooden construction, but also the flooring, walls, and even sealing and attics, and do so in a short amount of time like year or two.

Brown rot fungi

Brown rot fungi destroy the hemicelluloses and cellulose in wood. Without these two substances only lignin of the wood that hold cells together remain and causes wood to dry, shrink and show brown discoloration. This is where brown rot fungi got its name from. Affected from brown rot fungi wood becomes fragile, tends to crack and when crushed it can turn to powder. What is more important is that wood may be greatly weakened even before evidence of destroying can be seen. That’s why attack from brow rot fungi is considered to be very serious.

White rot fungi

White rot fungi causes rotted wood to feel damp, soft and spongy. This happens because white rot fungi destroy all three main components of the wood: cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. It can be recognized by appearing white, like it`s been bleached. When attacked by white rot fungi wood usually don`t crack. It only shrinks, becomes spongy and collapse under load.

Soft rot fungi

Soft rot fungi are least dangerous when decomposing of the wood is in question. They occur when the content of water and nitrogen is very high. Soft rot fungi degrade only cellulose and hemicelluloses. That’s why they look like brown rot fungi, but rarely attacks wooden structure of the house. Window frames, wet floor and fence posts close to the ground are common places where soft rot fungi appears.

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