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Old 09-30-2008, 12:41 PM   #21
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Our biggest problem in living near the ocean is high humidity and mold. I hesitate to post this, because I don't want people to think we live in a junky house, but the latest front on the mold war, is in the ceiling of the kitchen.

...



A month ago I broke it off, and cleaned with bleach, but now it's back. This wall is shared with the garage, and my office is above it.

My concern is that there's a leaky pipe in there. I think I will take off the sheetrock on the garage side and take a look.

Any advice?
Yep. Junky house.. That's the first thing that has come to mind when you show your clean lined home and cabinetry, or use stainless drywall screws in your bath. Those beautiful mushrooms coming out from under the baseboard puzzle me though - too much moisture. as someone else said - water coming in at roof/wall intersection? You do have plastic groundcloth under your home, right? no roof drains draining under the home or sump pumps with broken or separated exit lines?
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Old 09-30-2008, 11:16 PM   #22
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Which makes me wonder about your heating, Brat:
, too?
We a have forced air furnace that heats with propane located in the garage. There is some fancy duct work that vents that box to the outside. There is also a copper tube that drains any water produced by that puppy outside the house. Our water heater is also propane. God intended water to stay outside or in the taps and we do all we can to assist that process.

If Trombone has a wood stove and that combustion is the source of humidity he could install a ceiling fan to bring ceiling air down and place a dehumidifier in the room BUT the water it collects needs to be disposed of almost daily. Any time there is moisture and dust fungi and mold will grow with the passage of time. A few drops of Clorox in the moisture collector might postpone the inevitable.

Our parents didn't have problems with interior wood stoves or sawdust burners because homes breathed... aka, they were drafty. Having one foot in the 1940s and another in the 2000s complicates life. I am seeing more homes with mold problems - they seem to have been build after the 'energy conservation' code changes of the 70s.
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:50 PM   #23
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Thanks for the tips. A hole saw was $22 and a jab saw was only $7.

I used a jab saw to open some observation ports (i.e. holes) on the garage side:

WallMold 007.jpg

Here's the view in the hole on the wall:

WallMold 001.jpg

That's a pipe in the middle with black insulation on it. The whole area seems damp, and the wood on the top is blackened. There were some very small bugs on the surface.

I suspect something's leaking somewhere. I think I'll call in the professionals (plumber) at this point, unless someone has some suggestions.
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Old 10-14-2008, 02:11 PM   #24
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I think I'll call in the professionals (plumber) at this point, unless someone has some suggestions.
Al, I was going to suggest a house fire as a joke. Realized in light of your past experience it might not be very funny. Guess a plumber is your best bet.
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Old 10-14-2008, 03:55 PM   #25
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I would also call an exterminator. Those bugs could be termites or carpenter ants.

The black on the wood could be a mold too. You should consider wiping it down with Clorox. Once there is no risk of airborne molds consideration should be given to replacing all possibly contaminated wood.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:57 PM   #26
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The whole area seems damp, and the wood on the top is blackened. There were some very small bugs on the surface.
About the size of a pinhead? In our vermiposting tower we call those "compost mites", and that's probably what they're doing to the wood!

Does the presence of insulation mean it's a hot water pipe? Can you pull the insulation off the pipe and look for dripping down the pipe from above? And if it's dripping, does it stop when you shut off the supply to the water heater and vent the hot water piping by opening an upstairs faucet and a downstairs one?
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Old 10-14-2008, 10:18 PM   #27
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About the size of a pinhead? In our vermiposting tower we call those "compost mites", and that's probably what they're doing to the wood!
Even smaller than a pinhead.

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Does the presence of insulation mean it's a hot water pipe? Can you pull the insulation off the pipe and look for dripping down the pipe from above? And if it's dripping, does it stop when you shut off the supply to the water heater and vent the hot water piping by opening an upstairs faucet and a downstairs one?
I'll try those experiments tomorrow, thanks.
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:45 PM   #28
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I opened up more wall, and it's looking bad. The wood is quite wet, and there are wood-eating insects in residence, hopefully only the type that can eat damp wood. I'm waiting on a callback from the termite company, and the plumber is on his way.



at this point I'm guessing a slow leak on the pipe on the left, but up above the wood (i.e. upstairs). Unless the plumber can figure it out quickly, I'll pull up the carpet, and open the floor up there to take a look.
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Old 10-24-2008, 06:33 PM   #29
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Oh dear!
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Old 10-24-2008, 06:42 PM   #30
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I'm not understanding the framing - pipe is going through 3/4" ply subflooring, but no plates to rest the subfloor on? and is that a 2x3 stud? maybe we are looking at a thick wall cavity for a plumbing wall - pulled the insulation yet? I'm betting on a deep wall and that pipe ending up behind an unstairs sink or - AH Hah! a shower wall? could it be? What's upstairs in that location Al? I just did a fix on a leaking line at a shower valve Tuesday.

looked closer - that's a 2x6 or 2x8 plate for a wet wall i think. probably a toilet drain in the wall.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:32 PM   #31
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It should be clear from these pictures. I had a very successful exploration.

Here are the holes I cut in the office floor:



I drilled small holes to exactly locate the joists, then drilled a larger a hole to check the thickness of the plywood, then set the depth of the circular saw so it would just cut it, and made a rectangular hole with its edges on the joist.

That first hole was in the wrong place, but the second one was right over the pipe.



There was a pile of black cottage cheese like mold around the pipe. I put on full protective gear, and cleaned it up, and sprayed with bleach.

I couldn't see any water leaking out.

Question 1: Does the green corrosion on these pipes indicate the leak location?





Question 2: When I run the hot water, there is some water vapor that appears here (I have a movie of it if you want to see it). I assume that's just the hot pipe heating the surrounding moisture, yes?

Question 3: I'd like to dry it out. I could blow hot air in there with the hair dryer. Bad idea (blows mold spores around house)?

The good news is that this looks pretty isolated. However, it's going to cost some to have the pros remove the rotted wood and redo the pipe.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:53 PM   #32
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You may want to check on what kind of disclosure is required for mold damage in your state. The pro's you are calling in might be able to help with this. This would be a benefit when/if you sell the property.

I have heard people say that an inefficient vacuum cleaner blowing into a space can dry it out.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:55 PM   #33
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Great pictures!
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:56 PM   #34
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The pro I contacted today said "Do NOT contact your insurance company about this."
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:13 PM   #35
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Dang, that's great work. Congraulations.

Yes, the green marks the spot where the leak is.

You're obviously competent with tools, and you've already done the hard work. You could really finish this job yourself without much trouble.

1) Tear out all the drywall in the garage that is wet or moldy. It's a garage, after all, and when you put new drywall in place it won't matter much if the seams are a little bumpy. Once you've got the dryywall off, set up a fan and a heat lamp and get things dried out (open the garage door and let the spores outside if you are concerned about this)

2) Meanwhile, under the floor, maybe give things another shot of bleach and then let try to get it dried out. I really don't know about mold spores--my gut tells me that they are probably present in the environment anyway, and that you just want to avoid getting the concentration so high that they overwhelm your immune system). You could cut a small hole or two through the stud with a large spade bit, then put a small fan face-down over your hatch-hole--it would blow the moist air and any mold spores out into your garage.

3) Fix the pipe. Get the water out, heat up the old, leaky elbow, remove it, and sweat on a new one. Clean both ends of the pipe >very well< and use enough flux. This would take an hour at most. It looks like it failed at the connection. Buy a Watts-brand elbow with the solder already in it--I've had great luck with these, and have never had one leak.

4) You've got the drywall off in the garage. Are the studs structurally okay, or are they rotten? I'd guess they are no good--and they are probably holding up your upper kitchen cabinets, so you don't want those screws failing in some crumbly wood. Just insert a new stud or two temporarily to hold up the sill plate above it (shim it up so it is taking the load) then rip out the moldy/rotten studs. This is a good excuse to buy or rent a reciprocating saw, if you don't have one. Then replace the studs with new ones. If you want to be sure the damage is less next time, use treated wood--it will only cost a few bucks more, and it's not a bad idea in a wall containing plumbing. (Wear gloves when handling t and a dust mask when cutting it). Also, take a look and see how your upper kitchen cabinets are supported--they are probably screwed into the studs or into a separate piece of wood or a rail that goes across the top of the wall. If they are screwed into the studs you are about to remove, be sure to support the cabinets from underneath as you go about your work.

5) Wrap the pipe with new insulaton, replace the drywall in the garage, slap on some dryall mud, sand it down (a wet sponge works well in place of sandpaper) and call it a day. If you want to reduce potential for future damage, use water-resistant drywall or DenseArmor plus drywall (contains no paper).

Good luck!
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copper piping
Old 10-24-2008, 08:16 PM   #36
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copper piping

I have seen this several times in my house.
The plumber who my home contractor hired must have been half blind, or really careless. The problem is one or more poorly soldered joints. They hold up for years, but fail and leak finally, because there was only a thin film of solder at the edge of the elbow. The dead giveaway is the green corrosion around the joint.

1. It's an easy fix for a competent plumber.
2. Once it's fixed, you can probably dry stuff out (now that the spaces are open), and solve the problem.
3. (Bad) There may be more marginal joints.

My wife got up in the morning, several yrs. ago, went to the sink and shrieked "the carpet is soaking wet!!"
Our problem was worse in that the pipe itself had developed a pin hole - This was not what I'd call a slow leak - think gallons of water, not ounces.
Fixed the leak under the vanity by sawing through the base inside, luckily in the right place, and patching the pipe. Carpet and particleboard base were ruined.
Wife was so happy with the new bathroom that I had to remodel the other one too!!!

I've since found other joints that were bad, but all in the unfinished basement. Easily repaired - I know how to make a quality solder joint, unlike some plumbers.
My biggest anxiety is the pipes hidden in the walls, so we turn off the water in the house when we travel.

Good luck with your problem
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:16 PM   #37
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The pro I contacted today said "Do NOT contact your insurance company about this."
California... mold.... +1

Nice tools Al - think i have the same stud sensor. Your second pic from below looking up into the plate it looks like there is a coupler hidden and just peeking out by the elbow. How deep can you push a standard screwdriver into the black wood? I'd be looking at how much structural integrity was left, maybe bridging the black wood with some plates top and bottom, Cloroxing the heck out of it, fixing the leak so it stays dry, and calling it good. Lots of elbows there making for tough soldering - seem to remember repair couplers that didn't have internal stops on them, so you could slide them all the way over one pipe and then bring them back onto the pipe you were joining.
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:28 PM   #38
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I have read that bleach will not soak in enough to kill the "roots" of the mold. I suggest reading some more about killing mold. Chlorine Bleach Effects

You need a fungicide, like Shockwave: http://www.fiberlock.com/pds/shockwave_pds.pdf
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:33 PM   #39
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The pro I contacted today said "Do NOT contact your insurance company about this."
Probably good advice.
Hope it ends well (or as best as can be expected) for you.
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:49 PM   #40
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I have read that bleach will not soak in enough to kill the "roots" of the mold. I suggest reading some more about killing mold. Chlorine Bleach Effects

bleach will cause corrosion on copper - but if the leak is gone and the wood dries out then the happy mold habitat is gone, along with the problem - or such is my thought. Looks like the mold remediation company says the same in their mold basics area:
"When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth often will occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores, controlling moisture can control indoor mold growth".

Oooo! Just saw Martha's Shockwave recomendation - if you can get it it sounds like a great product.
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