Removing Mold in the Basement
LESLIE: Joe in Missouri needs some help fixing the damage from a leak. Tell us what happened.JOE: Yes, we noticed some discoloration on the linoleum around the toilet, so I suspected a leak and we have a walkout ranch, unfinished basement. So I went in the basement and looked up at the floor joists and there was, in fact, a failure of the wax seal and now I’ve got this black mold/mildew growing on the 2x10s and I need to find a way to remove it. Most of the commercial products suggest spray it on and then wash it off with a hose or something, which I really can’t do in the basement of my home.TOM: Yeah. I mean how much do you have? Just a little bit of black around these floor joists?JOE: It’s probably three of the floor joists; anywhere from 18 to 24 inches on two to three of the floor joists.TOM: OK. I mean do you know if it’s mold or is it just water damage?JOE: No, it looks like it’s mold or mildew. It’s not water damage, I don’t think.TOM: Well – and is the basement finished or unfinished?JOE: It is unfinished.TOM: Well, why don’t you just do this? Why don’t you mix up a bleach-and-water solution and spray it down.JOE: (overlapping voices) OK.TOM: Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then spray on a little bit of water on top of that to sort of rinse it. I mean if it’s unfinished, you can simply put a tarp down; catch a little bit of that water; clean it up; you’ll be good to go.LESLIE: And you can use one of those little pump garden sprayers.TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point; one of those pump garden sprayers. Yeah. You don’t need to hose it off.LESLIE: Yeah, we don’t need a pressure washer.TOM: And that will kill any mold that’s actually there but it’s probably more likely to simply be some moisture damage. Then make sure you fix that wax seal.JOE: Yeah, we fixed that already.TOM: Alright, so it’s dry now?JOE: It is dry.TOM: So if it’s dry, you don’t have to worry about any further decay. Because without the leak, it’s not going to continue. I’ve seen a lot of leaky toilets over the years and I rarely see mold. It’s almost always just water damage.JOE: OK.TOM: A little of the early signs of decay.JOE: Well, that sounds good. Thank you very much.TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.