The House Sponge: Occurrence, Threat and Possible Damage

Science calls it " Serpula lacrymans , for the average consumer it is known as a dry rot. Scientists find the dry sponge extremely fascinating, but homeowners are not at all delighted with the mushroom. Where he appears, trouble is inevitable. The fungus has been causing damage for hundreds of years and is causing headaches among those affected.

Myths and Facts

Around the House Sponge , many myths clash, one more fascinating than the other. One of the fascinating myths played in the 17th century: At that time the dry rot sprouts whole fleets of warships had attacked and put out of action before they could go into battle. Another myth that shows the destructive power of the mushroom goes back to the Second World War. The house sponge is said to have infested several floors of residential buildings and brought them to collapse.

How does it happen, however, that a fungus , which is actually at home in the forest, suddenly settles mainly in human dwellings. This is to be described among other things with its indescribable adaptability. The dry rot has adapted to its new home: Its shape ranges from the several centimeters thick mycelium mats to spiderweblike mycelia. In addition, the fungus forms string-like strands, which bridges distances of several meters under the floor and penetrates walls in part. In the strands, the dry rot transports nutrients and water to the growth front.

Particularly dangerous is the fruiting body of the fungus, which is just as adaptable. Depending on the shape of the house and its surroundings, it forms nodular outgrowths, flat coverings or horizontally protruding hats. The bodies form hymenia (fruit layers), which produce incredible amounts of spores as spore carriers. These are dispersed from the air and cover, as finely brownish dust, furniture, floors and other furnishings.

Because of its versatility and adaptability, the dry rot has become a dreaded organism that can infest homes and apartments. Rumor has it that the mushroom has the power to overgrow and destroy dry wood. Its spread would even be possible if it adheres to the soles of a worker's foot and is carried into an unfinished building. But what is really wrong with the myths? Is the fungus really capable of such destructive things? The answer is very clear: yes. It is not without good reason that renovators and wood preservation experts are right when they cut well-injured wooden beams generously (about one meter above the visible edge).

Where the dry rot

Previously, the dry rot was found in damp, poorly heated half-timbered houses. Today, the rotten sponge mainly spreads on ground floors and in the basement and vacant real estate. Also at risk are new buildings that have problems with condensation on thermal bridges or water entry points. The starting point of the problem usually begins with an infection in the basement, in which softwood is installed. The infection also affects oak, beech and other hardwoods later on. The mushroom threads and strands of dry rot penetrate walls, thermal insulation materials and porous mortar in masonry and joints. In its water-conducting vessels, called rhizomorphs, , the fungus transports moisture to moisten and then degrade dry and new wood.

In addition to solid wood, the dry rot destroys other cellulosic materials such as paper, straw, particleboard and fiberboard , Fiber mats, textile fabrics and reed insulation materials, provided that the materials have a high moisture content. For this, the indoor humidity would have to be more than 90 percent. The fungus, on the other hand, can not degrade wood with a moisture content of less than 20 percent. Optimum growth conditions are best enjoyed by the dry rot when the temperature is 21 ° C and the wood moisture is between 30 and 40%. At temperatures above 26 ° C, the fungus turns into dry rigidity, where it can survive for up to ten years until it dies.

Why it damages one's health

The first danger assumes that the fungus will be destroyed by his Aggressiveness damages the structure of the building and thus provokes a collapse hazard with a high accident risk for all residents. The fungus itself or fruiting bodies and mycelia are harmless to humans. In contrast, the spores occurring in large quantities can lead to allergic reactions. A large spore occurrence is also an indication that the wood of the property has been massively damaged.

Also problematic are old, dead fruiting bodies, which are attacked by mold fungi such as Fusarium, Cladosporium and Aspergillus. These, in turn, can trigger malaise, allergies, headaches and, in the worst case, mycoses.

Fungal infestations detected: mandatory notification and dry rot

If fungal infestation is suspected or detected, then homeowners have to act swiftly: on the one hand, there is a requirement in many states to register the real dry rot, on the other hand, they must start as soon as possible with the house sponge refurbishment. The Registration requirement is regulated in the building code of the federal state. Currently, the obligation to register applies only in Saxony and Thuringia.

Im & sect; 16 & nbsp; Protection Against Harmful Influences & ldquo; The Saxon Building Code states:

& bdquo; (1) Structural and other installations and facilities as defined in & sect; 1 Paragraph 1, sentence 2 shall be so arranged, designed and fit for use that water or moisture, plant or animal pests and other chemical, physical or biological influences do not give rise to dangers or unreasonable nuisance.

(2) Become part of buildings Wood or other organics contaminated by the domestic goat, real dry rot or termites, the persons responsible for the proper condition of the building must immediately commission a specialized company to combat and correct the damage on the basis of an expert's assessment, and the Building Inspectorate to commission and complete the contract & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp;

& nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; needed, which can effectively and thoroughly eliminate the fungus. This is important because in most cases the fungus is detected very late. To get rid of the fungus, the company must:

treat the wood with sponge remover or replace it completely,

  • clear the masonry, clean it and then treat it and
  • investigate how it came to fungal attack.
  • Take care

Preventive Measures: To Prevent Renovation

Anyone wishing to avoid a

Houshold Sponge Remediation should have their woodwork regularly check. Take a look at the building structure and especially the sewage system. If this does not work properly and water drips somewhere below the house, the environment described above for the dry rot occurs. If it comes to a water damage, it must be remedied quickly. Make sure that no moisture remains. Another preventive measure is the right ventilation, not only in the apartment, but also in the basement and attic. Only with fresh air the moisture is expelled and the fungus does not find an ideal environment to grow. Finally, some tips to prevent:

in the basement for good ventilation

  • Do not store demolition wood in buildings
  • Do not store firewood and packaging materials in damp basements, on floors or walls
  • Check wall and room surface moisture regularly
  • Avoid low vapor permeable floor coverings
  • Artikelbild: By Andreas Kunze (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (//], via Wikimedia Commons