Mold Problem

October 29th, 2007 by Potato

We’ve got a bit of a mold problem in the house here. When we first moved in, we had a water leaking into the basement problem, which lead fairly directly to mold growing in the laundry room. Our landlord did a somewhat sloppy fix of the problem by spraying the leaking wall with blue expanding foam, but it did seem to keep 99% of the water out of the laundry room. However, the mold continues to grow there. It’s a little unsettling, and from what we’ve read on the internet, if mold continues to grow after being killed back by bleach and mold inhibitor a few times, it’s probably there to stay and we’ll need a professional.

It’s a bit of a pain, but the laundry room is at least a fairly localized, stable problem (and is much more livable after we got a UVC lamp to kill the spores and improve the smell).

The rest of the basement is unfinished, and smells terrible. It’s always had a bit of an unfinished-basement, confined-space, stale-mildewy smell to it, and we can smell that whenever the furnace or A/C first clicks on and blows skanky air around the rest of the house. However, that room has gotten much worse in the last few months. Somehow, water is getting in there, and it doesn’t make any damned sense. The interior brick wall (a wall between rooms, not one that faces the outside) is sweating/dripping with water and swelling. When the brick foundation swells and cracks like that, it starts making me a little nervous about the structural integrity of the house as a whole. The smell has gotten much worse as well, along with what looks to be some creeping mold (the mold in the laundry room is white/grey and quite fluffy, the mold in the furnace room doesn’t look nearly as fluffy, more of a scum).

We’ve been complaining to our landlord about it quite a bit, and she has been less than helpful. In fact, she’s been downright batty about the whole thing. She seems to firmly believe that opening windows will solve the problem (never mind that there are only two openable windows in the basement: one of which we were robbed via, and the other one opens half under the deck, and so doesn’t offer much in the way of bulk fresh air flow). Then she suggested that we get a fan, thinking that airflow would dry up the water and stop the mold. “Opening the door to the furnace room should also help,” she said “because before the renovations there was no door there.” We were not about to leave that door open full time, for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that there’s no reason why that would help clear the mold in that room (as opposed to spreading it through the rest of the house, as well as giving the cat a way in to roll in the mold and get herself disgusting). Then, to prompt us to use a fan, she came by and dropped one off (a very obviously used fan that was probably just sitting around her basement).

She’s been quite laissez-faire about the whole thing, saying things like “well, it’s and old house, and that’s just what happens to them.” Old houses might be susceptible to mold invasions, but that’s not an inevitable fate of older homes. There are many gorgeous century old homes in this neighbourhood, and with proper upkeep they’re quite habitable. When Wayfare pointed out that we both have mold allergies, she said something along the lines of “well, you hardly ever use the basement anyway, so can’t you just get like a surgical mask and wear that whenever you go down?” That was particularly not helpful.

A dehumidifier has been one good suggestion, and we tried that. There’s an old one hanging around in the furnace room that was purportedly used by the previous tenant to solve the water-coming-through-the-walls issue, but I didn’t trust it (I figured it was probably just full of mold waiting to be blown around), so I bought a new one. We ran it for two days and despite the fact that there were visible water droplets on the wall, it didn’t take any moisture out of the air — either high humidity is not the problem (and it doesn’t feel that humid in there), or the room is too cold for a dehumidifier to be effective. So we managed to return it, since it wasn’t helping. She bought us another one now anyway, but we have to go up to Sears and pick it up (if I thought it would actually do something, I wouldn’t mind…).

Then, Wayfare went by her office to drop off our rent cheque, and our landlord was all excited. She had bought something for the house:

Vinegar and Baking Soda

A big thing of vinegar, and two boxes of baking soda. Yes, we will have a giant carbon dioxide volcano and that will fix our mold problems. She figures somehow that if bleach didn’t kill the mold, vinegar will (“it’s a handy household cleaner” — yeah, it is… for windows), and the baking soda will help remove the smell of death!

Me, I figure that combined with some red and green food colouring, we just got a cool Halloween prop. (Who wants to see the vampire bubble blood? Who wants to see the doll projectile volcano vomit?).

No word yet one when she’ll get someone who knows something about mold to take a look at the situation (her admittedly unreliable step son is supposed to come by some time before the end of the year to look at the problem and suggest further craziness). We’re starting to wonder if we should cut her out of the loop and start talking to her husband, who seems to have a clue but simply doesn’t care as much. My dad says that mold can be bad for the resale value of a house, and also for the health of its occupants, and if she’s dragging her feet like this then we should go over her head to a tenants’ protection association of some sort, or hire a mold specialist ourselves, without convincing her of the necessity first, and then just sending the bill to her.

One Response to “Mold Problem”

  1. Ben Says:

    Just mix the vinegar with the baking soda and throw in a handful of popsicle sti…err anti-mold rods, and you should be good to go!