Dealing With Mold in the Walls
LESLIE: Carl in Louisiana has a difficult problem. You’ve got mold between walls. Is this some hurricane damage?
CARL: No ma’am, it’s not.
LESLIE: Okay. Tell us how it happened or where you’re seeing it and what you’ve noticed.
CARL: I’ve noticed the walls warping. And the walls are like probably 5/32 or probably 1/8 panel walls.
CARL: And I see them warping. And actually, where the walls butt up together, they’re actually separating from each other. And what it is, it’s warping the walls. And I figure one day, you know, just pull the wall out and I saw it. My insulation had black mold growing on it.
CARL: I said, “Well, okay.? Well, you know, it’s a tin trailer I have on the side of it. It’s a older trailer and I said, “Well, I must have holes in the … on the tin, on the outside.” Well, sure enough, I pull the walls out, I sprayed the tin outside with a garden hose and I found holes. So I silicone the holes up. I changed all the insulation and I’ve actually sprayed mold control out of a spray bottle.
CARL: And that stopped it for a little while. I put all new insulation – like I said – all new insulation. And I put the walls back – new walls; I bought new walls – put all the walls back. And I actually see it coming back; the black mold going through the panel walls again.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like no matter how hard you tried to seal up those holes, you’re still getting holes in there. And the other thing that could happen is you could get condensation inside those walls. It’s very difficult, when the walls are already constructed, to deal with an issue like that.
One thing that comes to mind is that if you do end up taking some of that wall material off, is to not put paneling back or drywall back; but to put a product back called Dens Armor Plus. It looks like drywall but it has a fiberglass surface so it doesn’t grow any mold. It’s made by Georgia-Pacific. And this way, even if it gets damp in there, it’s not going to have the mold food that it needs.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s excellent for this type of application. It will really help you solve some of those problems.
TOM: Yeah. That’s probably your best bet because, this way, you won’t be feeding it. When you put drywall on or paneling on, that’s mold food. Especially drywall. That organic paper is just perfect. You get a little bit of moisture and the mold really goes for that. And the other thing is, the next time you insulate, put a vapor barrier over the insulation before you put the drywall up.
Now has this been consistent all the way around the home? Or is it one area worse than others?
CARL: It’s one area; mostly in the bathroom. I put the paneling throughout. See I was … I had bought the trailer probably secondhand. And I was doing some home repairs on it. And throughout the whole house I put … you know, different bedrooms I put different colors of paneling so I wouldn’t have to paint. And in the bathroom, I actually put plywood; 1/8 thick plywood, rough smooth side. And I came back and resanded the smooth side again, primed it and put two coats of paint. And I could actually see the black coming back through. You know, just take a … like a little damp cloth and it comes off. But I noticed the mold coming back in.
TOM: Hmm. Well, it sounds like the water is getting in there somewhere. Are you … in the bathroom, you said it’s the worse part of it. Are you dehumidifying the bathroom? Do you have a bath exhaust fan that takes the moisture out?
CARL: Yes, I do. I put one of those in.
TOM: And does it take it all the way to the outside?
LESLIE: It’s not venting into another room somewhere?
CARL: No, I don’t think it is.
TOM: Well, make sure. Because you just told us an important thing and that is that the mold problem is worse in the bathroom and you’re not too sure about the ventilation.
CARL: It might be the shower, maybe, also.
LESLIE: Right. But if you have proper venting in the bathroom, you can get rid of all that moisture directly to the outside. It sounds like, perhaps, it’s venting somewhere else inside the house.
TOM: And if that hot … that hot moist air is getting into that wall cavity, that could be a source of mold as well. So I hope those tips give you some place to start. But remember, don’t put drywall back or paneling. Put this Dens Armor Plus product in next time. Whenever you’re dealing with those moisture issues, that will never grow mold. And that’s the kind of product you need in a situation like this.
CARL: And where would I buy that paneling at?
TOM: That’s available at home centers across the country. You can go to a Home Depot and pick that up. Again, it’s called Dens Armor Plus. Carl, thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.