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Old 07-13-2008, 10:16 PM   #1
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


I am repairing the base of a hollow column that I had worked on about 5 years ago. The glue that I had used did not hold up, allowing water to get in. When I had repaired the base before, I installed 2" X 8"s (pressure treated) inside to brace and strengthen the base up to about 2 1/2 feet, and fortunately, the 2 x 8 is still good and solid. I am going to do some repair work on this, but right now, the outer wood (1" x 12") is wet, so drying is a must before the work is done. Part of the wood was wet-rot (all soft and rotted wood has been removed), and the smell of mildew is strong. Is there any way I can kill this mildew before I make repairs? The outer 1" X 12" is really for cosmetics, because the 2x8s inside are supporting the weight. Most of the old repair that was done before is still good and solid, so I would rather not have to replace the entire side, I'm just planning on using an epoxy filler for the repair.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Bofus

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Old 07-14-2008, 12:01 PM   #2
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


It depends on how bad the mildew is, but usually a solution of bleach and water is about as effective as any over the counter mildew cleaning solution.

You will definitely want to kill/remove all of the mildew though, because it will eventually work its way back through the paint or stain if you just paint over it.

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Old 07-14-2008, 05:55 PM   #3
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Thank you Charlesfor the reply. My only problem is that these columns are hallow, and I am sure that the mildew is where I can not reach. The rotten wood goes into a cement base, and even though the rotten wood has been removed, there is mildew inside that I can not see or reach. Would it damage the wood by saturating the wood with bleach, and letting it dry? I would be unable to rinse the bleach off the wood inside the column, and I am wondering if I could be creating another problem.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:22 PM   #4
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Hollow columns need to breath. Add holes at the top and bottom.
convection air currents will not allow moisture to be trapped.


Dig out the rot and treat with timbor. soak the inside of the columns the best you can with pump sprayer in the new upper holes.... TIMBOR ( boric aid +) let dry and bondo ... paint

or plan on replacing your columns $$$$$$$$

good luck Timbor can be had at a DIY pest control outlet..
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:54 PM   #5
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


IMO Borates won't affect mildew; bleach would be better, spray it on and let it dry...but that's not the problem. That's a bandaid not a cure...

Your wood is sitting in concrete. Won't last. High alkalinity, porosity and all that. I don't know if the moisture is coming from below, wicking up or if the column is sitting on a porch off the ground, and the moisture coming in from the top or sides - either way, the wood+concrete would get wet and the columns would be sitting in that for long periods.

Concrete and wood, even PT, should be kept apart.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:42 PM   #6
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


I agree that there are much better ways to do this, however, the house is about 100 years old, and this concrete has been here this way since the late 20's. What had happened, is when I made some repairs about 5 years ago, I had used interior/exterior spackling compound to fill the counter-sunk screw heads, which was a BIG MISTAKE! A few months later when things got a little damp, the spackling compound started to swell, popping the spackling out. I had to remove this and instead, I used Bondo, which worked great. The big problem was, it appears I missed a screw head at the base, and this allowed the water to get in. Every time it rained, the water dripped down the side of the column, entering the opening, saturating the wood on that side of the base. The wook acted like a wick, and even after I removed all the rot, the wood remaining is still real wet. Before I do anything, its going to have to dry real good for a week or two, if not longer. The problem is, if I spray anything into the base, I will not be able to rinse it out. Once it drys, will the bleach cause any problems with the good wood?

I feel that I can stop the water from entering the base, I just have to correctly treat the wood, before the repair, or the repair will not hold up. As far as the bondo goes, I have used it many times, and have never encountered any failure with it. Like evrything, it has its limitations, so I was also going to be using an epoxy filler as well.

Thank you for all the advice, and as you can tell, it is still a learning experience with me.

BTW, I have some borate concentrate, that is mixed with water. This can be used for insect control, but I have heard nothing about the wood rot due to moisture, or mildew.

Last edited by bofusmosby; 07-14-2008 at 09:47 PM. Reason: To add something
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:55 AM   #7
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Whatever mold is inside of the column will go dormant if the moisture problem is corrected. If there is no direct access to the inside of your home from the columns, you wouldn't have to do anything. Take away the moisture problem and the mold will go away. Timbor will definitely kill off any active mold and the spores it's producing. So will a 10 percent bleach solution. Both depend on getting proper application. Timbor is a good long term solution as the residue will continue to kill off fungi. Regardless of which you choose, allow them to dry before closing up the holes.
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:34 AM   #8
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Boric acid and sodium perborate are products containig boron mined from the earth in a number of parts of the US by, amonst others, USBorax. From what I remember, USBorax is one of the largest, if not the largest supplier of boron chemicals in the world.

USBorax make a product called "Timbor" and "Timbor" is marketed as a pest control agent on their documentation - not as a mold product. Certain other companies use borates in a whole lot of wood preservation products and many of them claim borates as "mold-inhibiting". Now there may be a number of legal issues why a product is not sold as a mold-inhibitor and therefore justification why it isn't sold as such but my feeling is that Timbor is not a particularly good one.

If you have some, sure go ahead and use it. But a more effective way IMO is the use of bleach in this situation (not all). But don't mix them and don't use them together . Not all of us are chemists!
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:20 AM   #9
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


From the photo (thank you for posting that) You have a rot problem.

If you have mildew inside the columns with minimal access.... a bleach solution may not be effective.

The spore casing of mildew is very hard. Beach works ( and is my weapon of first choice... availability and low cost.) BUT you must mechanically break the spore casing for bleach to be effective.( i.e. brush, rag or sprayer) N-DEW, RX? etc. lots more money, but residue and misting effective.

Timbor will give you protection from the microbes that are active in the rot process.

Masonary and wood contact should be avoided as described above unless the PT is rated for contact. Best practice is to avoid direct contact.

Noticed you had grout at top of column base to eliminate water table.
Think about wood trim for this.

What is the long term effect of bleach on wood? This is subject to variables .... concentration and exposure. As wood contains tannic acid and bleach is a base.... I know neutralizers are recommended before applying any finish on bleached wood.

Think about adding vent holes or spaces at top and bottom of your hollow columns. These are typically required for warranty on new wood columns.

Good luck with your restoration.
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:23 AM   #10
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Big Bob

Yes, I had added the cement/grout, thinking it would help steer the water away, but seeing that concrete and wood don't get along too good together, I guess the wood would be a better method. Thank you for bringing this up, I'll have to get some wood for the finished product. I plan on getting some vent registers for the columns, and plan on putting one on the top and bottom of each column. I was thinking of using maybe 1" diameter, hopefully this will be enough. Does this present a problem if vents are installed (top and bottom) on the same side? If it put them in on opposite sides, then I am worried that water might be able to get in.

If I use the borate solution, should I waite until all the wood is dry, or can it be used while the wood is wet, causing a better saturation. But, then again, if I use bleach, I suppose the wood must be dry before this is done.

Thank you fotr any more advice you can give.

Bofus
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:35 PM   #11
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Mother nature this time of year is not going to help you dry the columns.
Unless global warming has effected the daily 3:15 pm thunderstorm Tampa was blessed with this time of year.... years back when I lived there.

The 1" soffit type vent you propose will be quick and much better than nothing. Drill your holes and use the leaf blower to help get the drying started. Tie a small rag on a coat hanger and probe the interior of the columns for the mildew you think is there.

Your chemical treatment will be more effective on dry wood. Chemical will be absorbed in wood deeper.

Contractors usually make a 3/4"or 1 1/2" thick PT x ? spacer (Depends on size of column)spacer at very top and at base bottom all four sides during installation.... (or during repair like you did 5 years ago.)
New Round columns usually offer a notched base and sometimes a notched cap.
The lower or higher your vents are will aid the woods end grain venting (drying).
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:16 AM   #12
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How to remove mildew from wet wood


Thanks for the input Bob. Yup, the rain has been right on schedule here in Tampa. I have the base covered in plastic, with the back vented. I was thinking of putting a small fan out in front of it this wekend, to try to speed the drying. I feel its going to be at least a couple of weeks before I can even think about starting the repairs. By then, I should have those small register vents to install. Also, that will give me some more time to figure out exactly what I will be doing. Good idea with the coat-hanger. This way, I'll be able to tell if there is any standing water inside.

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