Things That Destroys Timber
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Published by TOP4 Team
As timber is a natural organic material it can be considered as food by many organisms. In maintaining a house, or anything else made of timber for that matter, the aim is to prevent it from being destroyed. The main destroyers of timber that concern us are rot, borers and termites. Others such as fire and wear and tear are controlled by care.
Rot is a general term for various kinds of fungal decay of timber. Rot comes in a variety of forms, but the greatest problem concerns wet rot under floors of houses where there is a ready supply of water and a general lack of ventilation.
Being a fungal growth, rot needs moisture and food in the form of timber to survive. The spores of fungi are in the air constantly and uncontrollable, waiting for an ideal environment in which to thrive. Treatment of a rot problem will obviously include remedying water problems and providing adequate ventilation. Where this is not possible, treatment of timber with preservatives will be necessary to at least discourage infestation. Timber that has already been attacked by rot will need to be removed.
Timber, especially hardwood in close proximity to the ground, can also be attacked when quite dry; this is a surface attack called soft rot. In this case, the timber should be replaced with a naturally resistant species or a pressure-impregnated timber that is resistant to fungal attack.
The best method of control is to use timber with a moisture content of less than 20 per cent. Normal seasoned hardwood in Australia is around 12 per cent.
Cuttin out dry rot
Treatments such as pouring linseed oil or household bleach on to the surface of rot-affected areas are of little, if any, use. Even suitable treatments such as copper solutions are only of use on timber before it is affected by rot, not after the event.
The method of removal of rot depends on the timber involved, but it needs to be cut out and removed. The replacement of a beam in timber flooring is needed. A similar approach can be applied to the removal of any other pieces of timber.
The timber removed should be burned. Coat the remaining timber with a preservative solution such as Copper Naphthenate, Cuprinol or Blue 7. These substances are highly poisonous. Protective clothes should be worn to ensure no splashes affect the skin. New timber installed to replace the old should also be coated with these solutions.