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What’s the White Film on My Bathroom Walls, Tiles, and Fixtures?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rich in Massachusetts on the line who needs some help cleaning the bathroom. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    RICH: I live in a three-family house and I find that the bathroom  – the ceramic walls, the floors, which are self-adhesive tiles, the metal faucets, the door leading into the bathroom – it’s all collecting a white film, like a residue, all over that area that I just described.

    The room is vented, but I can’t swear that that vent does work. It’s a vent/fan combo.

    TOM: And does the fan activate when you – can you turn it on and hear it?

    RICH: Yeah, you can hear it, so I’m assuming that it’s doing its job.

    TOM: And do you know where that vent fan is exhausting?

    RICH: Outside, to the other side of the wall, to the exterior of the …

    TOM: And if you go outside and the vent fan is on, can you see the flapper sort of propped open on it?

    RICH: Well, you know what? It’s on the third floor, so it would be tough to get a vantage point, unfortunately, for me.

    TOM: Perhaps you can do it with a pair of binoculars.

    Here’s the thing: if you don’t have a good, strong ventilation in that unit – in that bathroom – you’re going to have a lot of moisture hanging in the air, which can lead to mold and other problems. That moisture settles on all those surfaces and dries. And if there are mineral deposits inside that water, as there often is, you’ll get that white, kind of crusty, powdery sort of look sitting on everything. It cleans up nice with a vinegar-and-water solution because it breaks down the mineral salts. But I think better bathroom ventilation is going to be the key.

    So I would make sure the bath fan is working well. And I would also put your bathroom fan on a timer, Rich, so that when you step out of the shower in the bathroom, that it runs for another 5 or 10 minutes to pull out all that moisture.

    RICH: That’s a good idea. So what am I looking at, technically, then? That white residue. Is that some aspect of the mineral deposit drying or something?

    TOM: That’s exactly what it is. Mineral salts, actually.

    RICH: OK. So, a vinegar/water combo, you’re telling me, cleans it up.

    TOM: Yeah. Most of the commercial products will work, too, but just a – if you just mixed up some white vinegar with water and wiped it down, you’ll see it’ll pull right off.

    RICH: OK. And then does it point towards the ceiling fan not doing its job?

    TOM: Yes.

    RICH: I really appreciate it putting it in real simple terms for me to understand. And you know it’s an important room. And because it’s an important room, if it keeps looking crusty like that, it just affects your whole disposition. So I’m really glad I called and I appreciate the input and the help you gave me. And I’m going to look right at that ceiling fan and check it out and make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Rich. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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