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Old 07-16-2008, 06:38 PM   #1
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Moldy bathroom


Our upstairs bathroom (kids) has had a musty smell. I found that they routinely spilled water outside of the tub. I removed the lanolium floor, and 1/4 inch plywood underlayment. there was no tar paper layer. I found and removed the mold. I can see that water would have also gone under the shower/tub and the built in cabinets. I'm sore there was water, so there probably is unseen mold. Do i need to remove these built in structures or is the mold ok left sealed away from site and future water? What layers do i need to rebuild the floor properly?

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Old 07-16-2008, 07:35 PM   #2
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Moldy bathroom


The bad news is you have a moldy shower and there's nothing I know of that will completely remove the mold from the wood, and paper if there's any, and the drywall of course. Bear in mind all mold needs is food (plenty of that), moisture (plenty of that) an other mold to procreate with (plenty, too).So you will always have molds giving off spores etc and contaminating the air you breathe. It may become a health concern for these kids, you too.

You can't clean up 'here' and leave some 'there'...in no time it'll be as if you never cleaned. Same for bleach applications. Bleach may be good on painted surfaces but not on wood in a bathroom. Unfortunately, I'd have to say it's tearout time. You are one of millions of people whose bathrooms are mold factories and were not designed with the technology that would do away with that problem.

You ought to be looking to make that bathroom waterproof; the floor is the obvious place to start but don't disregard the walls and behind the tub. You might just bite the bullet now, have the whole thing gutted and replaced with a waterproof system. Would take about a week...$5-$10 grand depending on what you put back and how exotic you want it to look like. Could be a DIY project with a buddy. Need plumbers help and an electrician of course, and people with experience to lean on.

But do-able.


Last edited by ccarlisle; 07-16-2008 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:03 PM   #3
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Malherbe:

Question: Was the 1/4 inch plywood you removed rotten? That is was it weak enough to break apart with your fingers?

If it was, then cut out a small section of that underlayment and check the condition of the subfloor under where the underlayment was rotted to see if it's rotted too.

Personally, I disagree with Ccarlisle. There are millions of species of mold and fungii on this planet, and they are NOT all equally hazardous. The mold that grows on bathroom walls is not the same kind of fungus (called Serpula Lacrymans) that causes wood rot, and that's not the same kind of mold that grows on bread and produces penicillin. But, as Ccarlisle said, every living thing needs food and water, and every living thing will die without food and water. My point is that if you install a pair of "Spash Enders":

http://www.plumbingstore.com/newideas.html

you'll stop 99% of the water getting on the floor, and the remaining mold in the floor and walls will simply die off in time.

With the wood rot fungus, it remains dormant for up to 2 years under relatively dry conditions, but will eventually die if the moisture content on the wood it's growing on remains at or below 16 percent for more than 2 years. Typically, you need a moisture content in the wood of more than 30 percent before the wood rot fungus will even grow healthy enough to reproduce and spread. Anything under 30% and it becomes dormant and will eventually die. At lower moisture contents, say below 20 percent, it'll die within 2 years. Unless there's some other source of moisture getting into your walls, the mold and mildew will die in time.

Also, if you have ceramic tiling on your walls, it might not be a splashing problem at all. If you have a water leak into your ceramic tiles, and the water runs down the wall behind the tiles, it will be caught in a trough between the bottom row of tiles and the lip that goes around the tub. In that case, that water will end up leaking onto the back of the wall at the front and back of the tub below the top of the tub (between the top of the tub and the floor). If the wall is damaged in these areas, I'd suspect a leak in your ceramic tiling before I'd suspect splashing. If the wall is fine at the front and back, then I'd suspect splashing.

What you need to do is take off the linoleum and see if the wood is rotted at the front and back corners of the tub. If you can break the wood to pieces easily with a screw driver, it's rotted. Remove that rotted wood and check the subflooring below the underlayment for rot as well.

Then, tell us what you find.

Also, if the wall at the front and back of the tub is badly deteriorated, then I'd say you need to install a "tub surround" over your ceramic tiling to stop the leakage through the tiling.

Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 07-16-2008 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:34 AM   #4
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Nestor: I work in the water damage restoration business and I would not take the approach that you suggest.

You seem to trivialise the combined presence of molds and children; I don't like mixing those two things together - mostly as I personally feel that my generation has done enough to the environment to (perhaps) have caused the current level of respiratory illnesses that affect our kids these days. So in a small way, I try to reduce the needless use of all chemicals except where strongly warranted, and to promote clean air solutions where needed.

So, yes, I put all "bathroom molds" in one basket; I don't, for example, advocate sending in a mold specialist to establish whether or not the particular mold in the OP's upstairs bathroom is toxic or not. May be the correct procedure but IMO is not acting as a responsible professional in my field. But there is no need for me to make the difference between a beneficial mold and the ones that I see on 100% of my mold-related bathroom jobs; rightly or wrongly I condemn them all!

I assure the OP that there is no penicillin being cultured underneath your tub, nor are you likely to be making yeast for bread. Do know that mold is a very tenacious item and getting rid of it is difficult - if not impossible - and that there is a chance that these very same molds are contaminating the air in your house. Is that a risk? maybe...but as someone in the industry, I tell you that it is not a risk worth taking - especially with kids.

Nestor, to my surprise, suggests temporary, band-aid solutions (like the surround) to water problems, with the additional information given that, under certain circumstance, some molds will die off. This is false security. He mentions that some will die off in 2 years under "dry" conditions of under 20%RH. Well, he may correct, I am almost sure he is. But that information is irrelevant in this context.

Malherbe, you may never ever reach 20% RH in your bathroom in your lifetime. You will, on the other hand, always have mold growth-supporting conditions. What is done nowadays is to make those conditions minimal by waterproofing the entire room (if necessary) to ensure that mold does not find a suitable environment to grow in. That process may involve the entire tear-out of the room, including the floor and walls and rebuilding it so that high humidity conditions are lessened. Ceiling fans, waterproof walls, complete drainage are just some of the areas that are touched in a re-do.

Is that economically feasible for you? is it in your budget? I have no idea...some might say "it is only money" and you can always get money. If you think your health is as easy to regenerate after you've had a bout with respiratory illnesses caused by mold in your home, think again real hard on that, because I say not.

Look there are a number of courses here: do nothing; put a band-aid on the problem and hope it goes away, or take care of the problem. As a professional with liability issues hanging around my every move, I would suggest option 3 and I would go farther by saying that if I were to suggest either one of the 2 first options, I would be liable for your state of health. Including your kids. I prefer to sleep at night (so do my insurance agent and my customers) and make my recommendations that do just that - I don't offer band-aids.

That's just how I 'sign my name" in water damage issues such as this. I do the right thing and my reputation depends on it. Would you really want anything less?
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:49 AM   #5
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thanks for the replies. Our current shower/tub is built in and difficult to remove. I am confident the water was from splashing and spillage. I can not vissualize under or behind the shower/ tub or behind the also built in difficult to remove cabinet. From the location or the spillage i am very confident that water has been under and behind both stuctures.I'm sure i can seel these off. From the mold and little rot that was under the floor, i believe both will be stucturally sound with out significant dry rot. So The big question, rip the crap out to remove the mold or save my bank account? I think we'll procrastinate.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:08 AM   #6
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I'm 100% with Ccarlisle on this. I have seen, first hand, the health problems that mold can cause. Have you seen a mold remediation team? Not a small job. Why? Because mold can be that dangerous. Don't play around. At least spend a few bucks to have the mold tested to see what you're dealing with.
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Old 07-17-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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LOL Malherbe...I procrastinate too!

But let me add that seldom has wood that has rotted ever worried me in my jobs - and by that I mean structural issues are not usually in question up here. It might be the case where you have very high humidity and/or termites etc - but up here we don't so disintegrating wood is not a concern. But mold issues, because of the lack of ventilation - or by prolonged and unnoticed growth - are.

And as I said, I don't make a distinction between good and bad molds. We also didn't mention mites that feed off the mold, die then become food for the remaining molds. That's another feature of similar bathrooms.

In a situation like yours where there is a tub/shower built-in, it is possible to just redo the walls and proceed from there, without tearing out the whole tub+plumbing just to see on the other side of the tub against the wall. And yes you can put up a surround, but doing that will just cover the existing problem and providing an even more unhealthy environment. Take down the walls to say 4-5 feet above the tub flange, remove plaster, insulation, vapor barrier, clean the studs, let it all dry out for 48hrs, put back drywall or cbu, cover that with Kerdi, then tile on top of the Kerdi. Or use the surround once it is all cleaned up.

End of most of the mold. Do the same with the floor, removing moldy pieces entirely. Ditra, then tiles. You can be liberal with the bleach spray if you like, better than nothing. But from now on, open the windows, turn on or place a ventilator fan in the ceiling vented outdoors, even add Nestor's idea, it will all help. A weekend DIY warrior type of project.
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Old 07-19-2008, 10:25 PM   #8
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Moldy bathroom


You have all been very helpfull. Let me update and clarify. So far this has been nearly a week long project. I ripped out the lanolium and the underlayment to find three ~3' mold patches on the subfloor. The built in cabinet was not difficult to move around the room, minimal mold. The bath is stand-up hieight, and cannot be moved without destroying it. The doorway is small and the hall convoluted, I doubt we could get a new bath in without going through walls. The dry rot was minimal. We asked here, and local help. Our contractor was unimpressed. Our restoration guy(who did mold remediation in the past) was more concerned. Our flooring guy was ready to put it together over the mold. First I washed with mild soap. then with clorox. Twice. With thorough drying. Then I hooked my orbital sander to our kenmore heppa vac and sanded. and sanded . and sanded. Multiple heppa bags, one heppa filter later, and 1/8 - 1/4 inch less on the affected subfloor, then i called it good. I plan on putting polyurathane as a barrier, then the underlayment, and tiles. We plan on more waterproofing and more ventilation. Under the bath can be reached from the other side of the wall. I plan on vissual inspection and ventilating the area. Thanks.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:28 AM   #9
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Well you've officially made the "Weekend Warrior Club"! Good for you for doing something about the problem.

I don't understand what you mean about the bath being "stand-up height"...you mean about 20-24" high? versus, say, 16-18"?
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:38 AM   #10
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My advice: Listen to ccarlisle.

Realize that there are members that base their advice and responses on actual experience, certifications, and time/expertise in the field.

And, there are members that are simply writing down what they "assume", or "what makes sense to them", or sadly, are simply "guessing"....

Just because they may state: "This is what I would do" , or, "This is what I did", does not constitute it, as the correct and safest course of repair or procedure.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 07-20-2008 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:32 AM   #11
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The tub has 3 sides that go up the wall to about 18" from the ceiling.

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