Good boy! The dogs who sniff out damp and dry rot in buildings

Dry rot, damp, mould and other horrors can ruin a home, especially an older, or even historic building. Over the years many methods and tricks have been tried out to locate dry rot in houses, but as the damage is often hidden, how do you find dry rot without ripping the place apart?

Step forward man’s best friend and dry rot’s worst enemy: Damp dogs.

Yes, I am being serious, and April fool’s day was ages ago.

There now exists companies who locate dry rot, often hidden in large buildings, by ignoring modern technology and gadgets, and using dogs instead…..At first glance, yes it does sound a bit of shaggy dog story, but it’s true, so let’s look at the work of dogs in locating dry rot.

How man’s best friend is helping to save older buildings.

Before you start to stockpile “Pedigree chum” for your home improvement project, these dogs are specially trained sniffer hounds who can easily locate the smell of dry rot, using their enhanced sense of smell, and can pick up traces of the damage, often hidden under floorboards, in roof spaces or behind skirting boards.

Dry rot is notoriously hard to find and is often discovered at it’s advanced stage, often meaning that the damage has already been done and expensive repairs are then needed. These dogs can locate the problem before it becomes a big problem.

What is dry rot?

Dry rot is known as “Serpula lacrymans”.

It is essentially decaying wood, normally caused by a fungus that eats away at the wood, destroying it’s strength and tensile structure, resulting the wood softening and losing it’s strength, which if the wood refers to the beams holding up the roof, for example, you are in trouble.

The “rot hound” is able to smell the start of the decay long before the problem becomes untreatable, so if you own a large building or a manor house, it is worth getting the dogs in (!) to survey the property just to reassure yourself that the rot does not exist.




Where do I find a rothound?

As you can imagine, this type of service is not to common and won’t be found on the high street. They are often used by surveyors, and often in large country piles. In fact the National trust has employed these amazing animals (and their owners of course) to look for rot in their many old houses, with surprising success, so I am told.

£20 per hour and all the dog biscuits you can eat?

Dog’s have been man’s best friend for 1000’s of years and we think training dogs to sniff out dry rot is an amazing idea! If you also think so, please comment at the bottom of the page.

Who uses the services of damp sniffing dogs?

Anyone who owns or manages a historic building, a property where the scourge of dry rot is more likely to appear, can use these services. Unless you yourself own a very large and old home, it is unlikely that you would need to use them.

The national trust, the charitable trust which maintains some of Britain’s most treasured stately homes, often uses the dogs, especially as it spends around £50,000,000 a year (!) maintaining it’s houses, so any instance of dry rot not found and repaired would be a terrible strain on their resources.

 

Woof! Woof woof! GGRRRRR. (Translation: No, I am not employed by Dulux so don’t ask)

So as you can see there are many way to deal with damp and dry rot, some of which, as we have learnt above, come from thinking outside the box and finding new and innovative ways to combat the typical problems that owners of older homes can face.

If you have used a “damp dog” before, why not get in touch and tell us what happened?

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PS. If you are looking for one of these dogs DO NOT CALL US (!), we do not use them and have no need to, but after a speaking with the wife, we could perhaps lend you “Condensation cat”, (!) although we are still on the look out for a “Damp proofing dog” and will update you when we find one!”