Dry rot is a rongoid growth which, under conditions favourable to it, spreads over the surface of timber and causes the interior to crumble away. It may have the appearance of cotton-wool, or be black or a rusty yellow. Its presence is usually betrayed by the musty odour which it emits.
Dry rot may be due to the timber having been in an unseasoned or damp condition when built into the house. But good timber is liable to attack if placed in damp or unventilatcd positions. The ends of joints mortised into walls, for example, may develop it: or floors covered with linoleum and not ventilated properly underneath. Spores of the fungus may have been imported on a workmans tools, and for this reason it is most important to disinfect any tool which has been used for cutting affected timber.
Dry rot must be dealt with as soon as detected, for it spreads quickly and may, if left alone, do great damage. There is no cure; and the only safe course is to cut out all decayed wood and replace it with new material, after spraying or painting all the surfaces with a solution of sulphate of copper, or with carbolic acid or creosote. Corrosive sublimate may also be used; but, as it is a deadly poison, it must be handled with great care.
All surfaces with which the wood has made contact should receive attention before the new woodwork is put in position, and if ventilation seems defective it must be improved, for fresh air is an enemy to dry rot. Many cellars have no proper through ventilation, and if they are damp, dry rot may appear in comers or dead-ends. In such a case more openings should be made near these places to create air-currents.
Linoleum should not be replaced on a floor that has been treated for dry rot, nor be used anywhere else. The only safe course is to destroy it.
Earthenware, Mending Cracked. Where a strong mend is of more importance than appearance, procure strips of linen or fine canvas and smear them on one side with a mixture of gold size and plaster of paris worked into a fairly stiff paste. The strips are applied to the outside of the article along the cracks. When they are in place, some more adhesive may be rubbed in on the back and along the edges.
The adhesive takes some time to get hard, but then gives a thoroughly reliable joint, able to withstand heat. A fixed bathroom basin, so badly cracked and leaky as to be condemned, was mended in the manner described, and has been in continuous use for some years since, without showing any signs of leakage.