Dear PoP – Removing Mold

by Prince Of Petworth November 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm 23 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

“Dear PoP,

My girlfriend lives in a 2br/1 bath near Malcolm X park and has mold in her bathroom and I’m hoping to help her with trying to address the issue.

Have you ever heard of folks who have had the mold in their place inspected/evaluated? If so, was wondering if anyone had recommendations for an inspector?

I had a HS friend exposed to mold in her classroom out in California (she was teaching at a really run down school) a while back and she ended up being hospitalized so hoping to figure out how to treat the stuff.”

Yikes, anyone have any experience removing mold?

  • landlord

    We need more specifics – Are you talking about black mold on walls or mildew in grout? (For that I can tell you that Tilex and Comet Gel mildew remover do NOT work and I’d love to know what does.)

  • notolp

    We live on top of a swamp. We all have mold.

  • LA

    Well to help with the moisture issue, I’d recommend DampRid. They have dorky commercials and pretty terrible advertising, but their products work. I have one container in each room, but I’d recommend buying two if you have a room larger than 300 sq ft.

    • Anonymous

      I left the windows down on my car once and had to use two buckets of this stuff to get all the water out. Works great. It even got rid of the dirty sock smell.

  • Downtown

    I had a mold issue after our basement flooded. I had a regular contractor come in (used to work for him so I trusted him) and he could tell right away where the issues were. From experience he could smell it, and also look in the right places. He ended up replacing the bottom 6 inches of drywall and our linoleum floor in the laundry room (apparently glue can feed a mold issue). He sprayed any areas that didn’t NEED to be removed to kill the mold and prevent it from growing. You can probably avoid the mold remediation services by getting a few good opinions from contractors that are willing to do a small job. POP can give you my email address if you want more info.

  • Contractor

    Mold needs a source of water to grow, so i’d cut the sheetrock and look for signs of water or moisture. Wear a breathing mask and gloves. When you find the source of the water, fix it (call a plumber, or a roofer, etc.), and then let the area stay open for a few days to dry out until you’re confident that the moisture is gone. Treat the mold with a solution of bleach and water. Replace the sheetrock and repaint.

  • u street

    We just dealt with this as well. We used ServPro and they were very good and very efficient. It’s a national company but there is a franchise in MD that serves DC.

    • Tres

      Second that.

  • Tres

    Get a mold remediation service. They’re fairly affordable in my experience. You don’t want to mess around by potentially hiring a second rate contractor — get someone who does nothing but walk in and out of mold infested houses 40 hours a week. They’ll troubleshoot the moisture source accurately, and suggest or bring out subs for specific troubleshooting they don’t do.

  • landlord

    We’re presuming this is a condo (otherwise your landlord would be handling it) so you really need to find the source of dampness as it could be affecting other unit owners.

  • Sue

    And I third. Serv pro has been fast and reasonable when dealing with repeated floods in my basement.

  • bigs

    Call Peter Young with Young Environmental at 571-239-2779. I’ve used him dozens of times for large and small projects across the area.

  • Maire

    As a total aside, I am once again blown away by Pablo.raw.

  • Native American JD

    It’s called Tilex.

  • Kate

    If it is truely mold (and not mildew) you need to call a professional. Mold is considered HazMat.

  • dittie

    Had mold on the ceiling above my shower in my last apartment. Pretty sure the landlord just repainted the bathroom while I was out one day. Not sure if the mold was “removed” but it certainly looked a lot better.

  • mj

    use bleach to get rid of the mold…

    to keep mold away make sure you keep the window/far open 20 minutes after shower to get the steam out of the bathroom.

    • anon

      I second the bleach. We have gotten mold in our bathroom shower (along the grout and the fixtures) and along the sides of the bathroom window where condensation builds up. Bleach and a small dehumidifier have worked wonders!

  • I second the need for more information, but two basic instructions will apply to any mold situation: stop the source of the moisture and make sure the walls/ceiling/floor are able to completely dry out when they do get wet.

    Obvious sources of moisture are leaks from the plumbing & fixtures or rainwater getting through the roof or walls. If you’re pretty sure these aren’t the problem, then ventilation is likely the issue. You MUST run your exhaust fan (if you have one) for 30 minutes after a shower. If no fan, then open the window. Building codes require that you have one or the other. They exist for a reason. Use them. Can’t stress it enough. Now, if you use your fan, but your shower continues to drip throughout the day, this provides enough moisture to raise the room’s humidity and allow mold and mildew to thrive. Fix the leak and keep the bathroom door ajar throughout the day.

    If the issue is within the tiled section, you’re probably not looking at a major problem. You can use Tilex or just a bleach solution to make it go away for a while. Vinegar, lemon + salt, and tea tree oil each can be effective if you want to avoid bleach. No product or solution works well without a good scrubbing, though. They may make the color go away, but scrubbing removes more of the roots. Hit each and every grout line with a stiff scrub brush.

    If there is a little surface mildew outside the tiled area, the same basic principles apply, but be a little gentler on the paint. You can also use Concrobium, which essentially encases the mold and its spores in little, microscopic salt capsules. This is more effective and longer lasting than bleach, except where water will wash it away quickly (e.g. in your shower).

    Actual mold growing inside your walls, floors, attic, or basement is a bigger deal. If what you see in the bathroom turns out to be the place where a large mold colony broke through to the living space, then yeah, you need a contractor. It’s likely that your bathroom is leaking or otherwise not drying out, which is supplying the mold colony with the moisture it needs. Hopefully, though, you just have a bad case of surface mildew.

  • DC Girl

    1. Stop the source of the moisture.
    2. Call ServPro. They are excellent.
    3. Shouldn’t the landlord do this?

  • one dude

    Get a dehumidifier.

  • Lester

    DC Girl is right. Need to learn the source of the mold. Sometimes it’s something as simple as not leaving the exhaust fan on long enough after a shower in a poorly ventilated bathroom. Or, it may be a poorly designed exhaust system. Ten minutes running the fan should do it. Surface mold can be removed pretty easily with Moldbuster spray. It’s available at Home Depot. Be warned. It’s strong stuff. I wouldn’t hang around the house after application of the stuff. Remediation may be necessary if it’s severe, but make sure you find the source of the moisture first. Otherwise it’s going to be money down the drain.

  • aaron-anonymous

    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses! And thanks to POP for creating a forum for this kind of dialogue!

    Talked to my gf this afternoon and we’re gonna explore having someone come take a look at the bathroom.


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