Active Services, Specialist Building Treatments, Surveying and Contracting, Tel 01822 841005, 01752 256717

Problems with Wood

The two destroyers of wood are Insect Attack and Fungal Decay. Both of these can cause structural weakness to your home. Below, we show you how to identify the commonest forms of timber damage and also how Active Services can deal with them.


There are many different types of wood boring beetle, which are known under the generic term of Woodworm. Active Services are qualified to identify the type of infestation and recommend the correct treatment.

Infestations are recognised by the appearance of tiny holes in the furniture and timbers within the property. This can be accompanied by the presence of bore dust or 'frass' indicating that active tunnelling is present inside the wood causing internal structural damage.


Our first job is to identify the type of infestation and to investigate the structural integrity of the timber. We then spray a virtually odourless preparation on the affected timbers to kill the emerging insects and to prevent further larvae from penetrating the wood.

woodworm treatment

On heavy dimensional timbers a deep penetrating emulsified wood paste preservative may need to be applied. Remedial work usually takes from one to two days.

However, the one situation where the number of holes does not indicate the structural damage is in the case of the Deathwatch Beetle. The beetle can and does complete its life cycle, including breeding within the timber and is able to make the timber hollow. Special methods of control need to be undertaken.


Occasionally, we find that beautiful ancient timbers are so severely affected that they are unable to undertake their load-bearing role. In these cases, we treat the wood so that it remains a visual delight and at the same time arrange for the load to be carried by other means.

This type of 'cosmetic surgery' is very much at the centre of our aims of preservation and conservation.



Fungal Decay is a generic term which covers the type of wood rot such as dry rot and wet rot. All timber which has moisture content greater than 20 percent will decay. Fungal growths are encouraged and appalling damage may ensue. All fungi thrive on moisture whose source can be Rising Damp, Penetrating Damp or Condensation.


The most important thing about Dry Rot is that it can only grow when it has moisture.

Dry Rot is the worst type of threat to the structure of your home. It is secretive in nature and has often travelled much further than the initial signs would indicate.

The fungus grows and forms a mass whose strands can spread over two metres through masonry, walls and under floors to find a new food source. These voracious strands are resistant to drying out and conduct water to the next part of the growing, fungus.

Signs of Dry Rot

Other first signs are shrinkage or cracking in the timbers. Sometimes the appearance of a rust-brown dust which can be traced to a growth that looks like a mushroom. This can appear anywhere in the affected area.


Unless treated immediately, Dry Rot, which can remain active for years, can lead to structural collapse.

In depth investigations need to be carried out, often over a large area, to trace the extent of the damage.

Once identified, a system of treatment is available to you. This includes spraying, pasting, replacing rotten wood with pre-treated timber, and applying barrier renderings and coatings.

Equally important, the source of the infection must be identified and isolated. If this is not done, the fungus will quickly re-establish itself and enjoy eating through your new timbers.


The processes involved in identifying and treating dry rot are such that it is impossible to say in advance how long the remedial process will take.

It follows, therefore, that no fixed price can be given until thorough investigations have been conducted.

We are able to give a fixed price to investigate the full extent of the dry rot damage. Only after this investigation are we able to give a price for treatment and reinstatement.

The hard fact though, is that the work must be done as soon as possible if your home is to be preserved.

dry rot

dry rot

dry rot


Wet rot

Wet Rot is often mistaken for Dry Rot. Signs are similar but Wet Rot is not as destructive.

It can only occur in excessively damp situations and does not have the secretive nature of Dry Rot.


Treatment of Wet Rot is similar to that of Dry Rot but far less disruptive.

As with all forms of rot, it is vital to identify the source of damp and eradicate it.

There are also other types of fungal decay, all of which have the same cause and are similarly treatable. Active Services will be able to recognise them when we carry out our investigations.

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