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Old 05-27-2010, 12:48 PM   #1
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Flooded Apartment - Mold Problem


Hi All,

I recently had a leak in my water heater that flooded an entire apartment that I own. The apartment was empty at the time and it seems like the water level did not exceed the height of the floorboards (~1.5 to 2 inches). The floorboards and some walls have developed mold. I plan on removing the floorboards, but my question is how much drywall do I need to remove to address the problem. There are some walls that clearly need to go. I'm concerned that the soaked floorboards damaged the bottom few inches of the drywall throughout the apartment.

I read online that you should remove up to 12 inches of drywall above the water line mark. That sounds like the most conservative way to approach the problem and ensure no future problems. However, a general contractor friend of mine who is also a certified mold inspector states that it is not necessary to remove so much drywall - only the obviously damaged parts. What say you all? Thanks in advance

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Old 05-27-2010, 12:55 PM   #2
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Flooded Apartment - Mold Problem


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Originally Posted by Jeoroc24 View Post
Hi All,

I read online that you should remove up to 12 inches of drywall above the water line mark. What say you all? Thanks in advance
If you are removing an inch of drywall, why not 12"? Same mess, same amount of time to reinstall, money difference is trivial. Want to do it again later? 24" won't hurt, IMO. Good luck. john

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Old 05-27-2010, 02:40 PM   #3
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Flooded Apartment - Mold Problem


Agree with John. Cut out a 12" area so you can look behind the wall. If no mold goes higher, snap lines in all the effected areas and cut away. With the consistant spacing, replacement will be much easier.
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Old 05-27-2010, 02:45 PM   #4
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Yeah, 12" or more.

The reason being that mold-spores aren't visible to the unaided eye. When you *see* mold - it's thousands of spores that have grown and festered. So it's best to remove more than where it's at. The sooner you do it the better, too, mold spores can drift in the air and settle in places unaffected by the water.

Also, consider mold-guard products (not a brand name thing) but things that are designed to seal and protect from mold growth.
Consider a drip-pan under all of your hotwater heaters, as well - if this one leaked, others could, too.
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Old 05-28-2010, 07:48 AM   #5
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Flooded Apartment - Mold Problem


Thanks all for the advice. I'll go ahead an remove 12" to 24" of drywall depending on what I see. I've got two follow-up questions:

1. Has anyone ever used the fogger-type machine they rent at the big box stores to spray mold block on walls? Does it work? Is it more effective than using a regular spray bottle?

2. Since I'll spending the next week or two drywalling, is it best to use the regular drywall tape for the seems between the old and new drywall or should I use the mesh type tape? I haven't mastered the art of taping and feathering drywall mud, so I would want the material that would lead to the best finish.
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:38 PM   #6
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Material - greenboard would be ideal, regular drywall would be fine.

Tape - I've never used the mesh with drywall, only the paper-tape (so I have no experience with it.) Willie T often gives stellar advice that I've followed to the letter to achieve pro-results - amazing results.

*afterthought edit - I just realized he said not to use the mesh screen. Since Willie's tape advice worked so well for me I'll support his suggestion and also advise against it.*

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Here are a couple of tips that will help with the DW taping.

First of all use PAPER tape. Don't even look at that mesh screen.

Make your mud for tape bedding sloppier (wetter) than usual.

Apply plenty of mud on the joint... PLENTY!

Cut the length of tape you are going to need.

Wrap it loosely around your hand.

Dip your hand (the one with the tape wrapped around it) into a bucket of water for about one second.

Start applying your tape a foot or so from the beginning end (with enough tape sticking out TOWARD the beginning end to make it all the way there).

Using a 6" knife (trowel shaped like a paint brush) wipe back toward the beginning end as you hold the rest of the tape steady with your free hand.

Now that you have the first foot of the beginning end of your tape 'bedded', it should be solidly anchored there and stay put with little problem while you begin wiping the tape toward the other end.

Keep your knife wet all the while you are taping by dipping it into the bucket of water.

Hold the knife almost perpendicular to the wall surface. Lean the handle forward (toward the untaped run) about 15 degrees. Push down firmly (but just firmly) as you wipe the tape. Your object right now is to force all the mud you can back out from under the tape. If you hold the knife parallel with the wall (flat with the wall), it will have a tendency to 'float' along and leave too much mud behind, under the tape. This is NOT what you want to happen. You want to force all the excess mud out from under the tape that you can.

Keep scraping all the excess mud that collects on the knife back into the pan. Keep your knife clean and keep it wet.

That's pretty much it.

Let it dry, and you will see that because you only allowed a thin coat to remain under the tape, it will shrink into the joint, sucking the tape with it. You probably won't have to sand this coat at all if you were careful to work cleanly.
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Last edited by Snav; 05-28-2010 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:41 AM   #7
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Flooded Apartment - Mold Problem


So I removed all of the affected drywall, wiped down all of the remaining walls with Concrobium Mold Control, and mopped the floors with water and bleach. It's been a couple of days and the mold/mildew smell still persists. It's gotten a lot better but I've read that until the smell is gone there may still be mold present. I have a large dehumidifier running 24 hours a day and the AC is set at 72 degrees.

Any ideas on the smell? Will the smell eventually go away? Since the apartment is vacant right now there isn't a lot of opportunity for ventilation. I would like to start installing the new drywall soon, but don't want to start without fully addressing the mold problem.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:10 PM   #8
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"Use fans and dehumidifiers or natural ventilation that exchanges inside air with outside air." From: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/home/ae1202w.htm

“If possible, you should place an exhaust fan next to an open (or partially open) door or window that is open to the outdoors. This will create negative air pressure, which will direct air flow outside, and therefore mold spores that have been stirred during cleaning will also be channeled outside. Just make sure the door or window is not near an air exchange that brings outdoor air into the home.
You should also turn off the HVAC system before cleaning mold.” From: http://www.toxic-black-mold-info.com/moldclean.htm

Be safe, Gary
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:52 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by GBR in WA View Post
"Use fans and dehumidifiers or natural ventilation that exchanges inside air with outside air." From: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/home/ae1202w.htm

“If possible, you should place an exhaust fan next to an open (or partially open) door or window that is open to the outdoors. This will create negative air pressure, which will direct air flow outside, and therefore mold spores that have been stirred during cleaning will also be channeled outside. Just make sure the door or window is not near an air exchange that brings outdoor air into the home.
You should also turn off the HVAC system before cleaning mold.” From: http://www.toxic-black-mold-info.com/moldclean.htm

Be safe, Gary

Thanks Gary. Here is my plan:

1. Hire a company to clean HVAC. I was in a bit of a Catch-22 situation with the HVAC because I had to keep running it to keep the apartment cool and at the same time I knew I would be contaminating the system with mold spores.

2.Once HVAC is cleaned,wipe down every surface area once more. I'm planning on using bleach and water, but I've also read that water and detergent might work.

3. Setup wet/dry vac with HEPA filter to extract air from inside apartment to outside apartment creating negative air pressure. I don't know how long I can run this setup before one of the neighbors shoot me.

I contacted a mold remediation company and they wanted to charge me an arm and a leg even after I removed all of the damaged drywall and wiped down all of the surfaces. If my methods listed above sound reasonable, please let me know.

My main concern now is that if I don't remove all of the mold spores from air they will have a feast with the joint compound/tape I use when putting up the new drywall. Am I being paranoid?
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:12 AM   #10
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I use vinegar - it's less nauseating than bleach and, I feel, does a more thorough job of killing and reducing mold spores that are alive/dead. Bleach will kill - but fail to dissolve the connection the mold has with the item it's clinging to sometimes. Vinegar will kill and dissolve that connection, more mold will be physically removed.

The best thing to prevent the spread and growth of any remaining mold is to run a dehumidifier of some type - dryer air = less chance for it to multiply

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