FUNKY drywall mold….should I DIY? Or, hire?


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Old 12-16-10, 01:30 PM
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FUNKY drywall mold….should I DIY? Or, hire?

Hi there,

How are ya. I was wondering if someone could advise me about a mold problem. The moisture (from showers) has caused a significant mold growth in my bathroom - located on the drywall ceiling directly above the shower area, and measuring about six by three feet. The mold particles, which don’t smell at all, are very fine brownish dots (no large splotches). Here are my key questions:

1.) In your opinion, is it better to scrub off the mold using chemicals? Or, should I cut off, remove and replace the affected drywall?

2.) If I do the cleaning/removal myself, in your opinion, would it be safe for me - of course while wearing full protective gear – to clean and/or remove the affected area myself? Or, would you suggest hiring someone? I’d much rather do the job myself, but if my health is at risk, than I guess I’ll look into hiring a professional.

Many, many thanks,
rbracch
 
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Old 12-16-10, 02:10 PM
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No, this one is a DIY'er.

Just clean the ceiling with Bleach. You can dilute the bleach if you find the fumes are a bit hard on your throat and lungs. (You can buy facemasks and cartridges for chlorine vapour at any safety supply store, but the issue here isn't exposure to toxic mold, it's exposure to the fumes from bleach.)

The bleach should kill the mold. Then, clean the ceiling with clean rinse water to remove any bleach residue. Mold can grow through latex paint, so you want to clean (with bleach and clean rinse water) everything you intend to repaint.

Once the cleaning is done, allow time for the bathroom to dry out, and repaint the affected part of the ceiling (or the whole ceiling) with a latex paint specifically made for bathrooms, like either Zinsser's PermaWhite Bathroom Paint (available at most home centers) or Sherwin Williams Bath Paint (available only through Sherwin Williams paint stores).

There's no serious health risk here, so the idea of replacing the drywall is a bit xtreme.

Bar soaps are made from vegetable oils, notably Palm oil and Olive oil. Bathroom mildew, which is really just a collection of various kinds of molds, can use soap residue and soap scum as a food source because of the vegetable oil contained in it. This is why mildew grows on shower walls, but not above bathtubs if there is no shower. It's the spray from the shower that supplies the mildew with a steady supply of food (soap). Bleach will kill the mildew and any mildew spores on the bathroom walls.

It's important to buy a paint made for bathrooms. Such paints will have a solid mildewcide dissolved in the paint. That mildewcide is highly soluble in water. So much so that the presence of water on the paint, or even high humidity, causes the mildewcide inside the paint to migrate to the surface of the paint where it kills any mildew spores before they have a chance to grow. Consequently, you should be able to eliminate the problem by using the proper paint on your bathroom's ceiling.

Zinsser recommends two coats of their bathroom paint to provide a large reserve of mildewcide to keep the bathroom looking good for a long time. Their paint is guaranteed not to mildew within 5 years, but my own personal experience with it is that it lasts closer to about 15 years before you need to repaint.

I wouldn't prime. Clean the ceiling (or everything you intend to paint) with bleach to kill all mildew spores. Clean with clean rinse water and allow to dry. Then paint directly over your existing bathroom paint. If your existing paint is fairly glossy, then you might want to sand it down a bit for better adhesion of the subsequent bathroom paint. If your existing paint is oil based, you can clean it with TSP instead of sanding to roughen it's surface.

You don't need to dress like you're working with the Anthrax bacteria or the Ebola virus. You should wear old clothes whenever using bleach, tho. And, keep a water bottle handly in case any bleach drips off the ceiling into your eye, or wear eye protection.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 12-17-10, 11:48 AM
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....a few brief follow-up questions

Hi Nestor,

Thank you so, so much for your detailed response. I really appreciate your efforts. If you wouldn’t mind, could I ask you a few brief follow-up questions? I just have a few questions about your response. Here’s what I am curious about:

1.) I’d like to dilute the bleach, so could you recommend what quantity of water to mix in with what quantity of bleach?

2.) When cleaning the ceiling with bleach, I was wondering what the best bleach application and cleaning methods would be? Should I spray on the bleach with a spray bottle? A rag? Then, once I apply the bleach, should I scrub it in really hard with a brush? A rag? A paintbrush? (the same question applies to the application and cleaning with the rinse water).

3.) About the mildew using soap residue as a food source - would it help to prevent mildew in the future if I switched to a body wash (or some other soap) that doesn’t have those oils (that you mentioned) in them?

4.) Regarding the protective gear - aside from goggles, a respirator face mask and gloves, would you recommend any other protective gear?

Once again, many thanks for all of your help.
Have a great one,
rbracch
 
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Old 12-18-10, 03:31 AM
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1 part bleach and 1-2 parts water should work fine. A spray bottle would probably be the best way to apply it but a sponge or rag will also work. The mildew should come off very easily, I doubt any scrubbing would be needed. There are also some bath cleaners that remove mildew that will work.

Besides using a paint with extra mildewcide [like the perma white] using an exhaust fan after showers will help remove the moisture that feeds the mildew.

btw - welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 12-23-10, 11:03 PM
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Rbracch:

When we had a flood here in Southern Manitoba back in 1997, the Emergency Measures people were saying that you could decontaminate any impermeable things that were contaminated with flood water by cleaning them with a solution of bleach mixed with 10 parts water. So, anything stronger than that will do the job sufficiently well, only faster.

When I clean apartment walls and ceilings after a heavy smoker moves out, I generally use bleach mixed with about 4 parts water. I pour bleach into the bottom of a 2 liter pop bottle so that it comes about 3/4 inch into the middle straight section. Then I fill the rest with water, so that works out to be about a 1 to 4 or 5 dilution ratio. Then I use a paint tray and an Atlantic Bee Mop (sponge mop) to apply the dilute bleach to the walls and ceilings. Then I use a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner with a squeegee nozzle to remove the bleach from the walls and ceilings. And then I use the sponge mop again with clean rinse water to clean the residual bleach off, and vaccuum up the rinse water. However, the ceilings are lower and smaller in a bathroom, and so you could clean the ceiling that way or any other way that makes sense... with a scrub brush dipped in diluted bleach, with a sponge or sponge mop held in the hand, or by using a garden sprayer to spray the bleach solution on and a Magic Eraser to scrub the ceiling and remove the excess bleach. Lotsa ways to skin this cat.

If you do apply the bleach with anything made out of cellulose (including a cellulose sponge), rinse the sponge out well after using it. Bleach will break down cellulose so that even dilute bleach left in a cellulose sponge overnight will damage that cellulose by morning. Cotton is 99% cellulose, and bleach will weaken cotton fiber as well, even at 10:1 dilution rates. So, clean sponges and cotton rags used to apply bleach particularily well before putting them away or the residual bleach in them will turn them into garbage in a short time.

I'd probably just use a sponge or rag to apply the bleach and then scrub with a Magic Eraser. A Magic Eraser is slightly abrasive and will remove other kinds of soils, like soap scum and body oils from the ceiling as well. Then wipe the ceiling down with a sponge damp with clean rinse water to remove the residual bleach, allow to dry, and you should be ready to paint. You might want to sand the ceiling paint down a little to provide for better adhesion of the top coat.

All animal fats and plant oils are "triglycerides", which mean that they consist of three hydrocarbon chains (each called a "fatty acid") connected to a central glycerine molecules, like this:



The hydrocarbon chain with the carboxyl group ((C=O)-O) on the end is a "fatty acid" and there are three "fatty acids" in each animal fat or vegetable oil (or animal oil like whale oil) molecule. This is the difference between petroleum oils and natural oils; petroleum oil consists of hydrocarbon chains of various lengths; natural oils consist of triglycerides, with relatively short hydrocarbon chains. (Carbon atoms from 12 to 22) It's the fatty acids in these triglycerides that belong to a class of chemical called "lipids" that also include the waxes some plants produce on their leaves and in their nuts (like Carnauba Wax from the Carnauba Palm tree that was the "wax" used on hardwood floors before polyurethane became the clear coat of choice over hardwood floors in the 1960's). Some molds can use fatty acids and other lipids as a food source, so you should look for a "lipid free" body wash. "Aquanil" is a lipid free body soap you can buy in any pharmacy, and I'm sure there are others made by competitors:



Regarding protective gear, about the only thing you might consider is getting something you can wrap around your head over your mouth you can breathe through, like a scarf. I find that when I'm cleaning walls and ceilings with dilute bleach, the bleach fumes start to bother my throat and make me cough. Breathing through something wet (like a wet scarf) helps a lot because the fumes dissolve in the moisture in the scarf rather than being inhaled. You have to wash out the scarf periodically as the amount of bleach in the moisture accumulates. But, I've been cleaning with bleach for years and am probably sensitive to the stuff. If you're just doing one bathroom with dilute bleach, it shouldn't be a problem. Wear old clothes and have some way of washing out your eyes should you get bleach in them. Dilute bleach won't burn much, but the real McCoy is a SOB to get in your eye.

You don't need a moon suit to protect you from mold... we humans evolved with molds (toxic molds included) growing all around us, and we're relatively accustomed to molds in our environment. Almost all health issues related to toxic molds are relatively minor, like mild headaches, mild nausea, and mild flu-like symptoms, and are all caused by inhaling the spores of those toxic molds. And, most of the medical studies that have been done on the ingestion of mycotoxins were done on cattle and dairly farmers who are regularily explosed to large amounts of mold spores every time they break open bales of hay to feed their animals. Those bales have lots of moisture in them and the molds grow right on the hay stalks. Break a bale of hay open and you can almost see the clowd of mold spores that comes out.

Toxins produced by molds are called mycotoxins, and molds that produce mycotoxins also coat their spores with those same mycotoxins. It is by inhaling the spores of those molds that you, as a home owner, expose yourself to a health concern. Studies done on people working in office buildings that were known to be infested with "toxic" mold showed that the workers in those buildings did generally suffered poorer health than the general population, but the ailments were mild, such as sore throats, coughs, mild headaches and such. And, when people working in those "sick" buildings quit and worked in a different location, their health issues cleared up. So, this business about people dying or even getting seriously sick from toxic molds growing in their homes is bogus. Serious health problems, like liver and kidney failure and death, attributable to ingesting mycotoxins are associated with ingesting HUGE amounts of mycotoxins, such as eating the wrong kind of mushroom. The amount of mycotoxin ingested by inhaling airborne spores is so minute that even today there's still a lot of controversy over whether such tiny amounts of mycotoxins can even affect the health of a relatively large animal like a human being. On the one hand, the medical evidence suggests that it does. On the other hand, it's NOT the life threatening thing it's been made out to be unless you're in the habit of eating wild mushrooms on "try it and see what happens" basis. Our ancestors lived with moldy and rotting food and in hygenic conditions that would be appalling by today's standards, and they lived that way since we were little more than smart monkeys. We've all been exposed through many generations to all of the harmful stuff there is on this good Earth, including lead, asbestos and mycotoxins, and so we've all built up some natural resistance to these kinds of things. But as with everything, we're all individuals, and some of us are more resistant to lead, asbestos and mycotoxins than others. Put it in the same bag as lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes. Some people will smoke and die of lung cancer at 45 years old. Others will smoke all their lives and get run over by a bus at age 98. It's the fickle nature of biology that makes us all susceptible, but not all EQUALLY susceptible, and I guess that's what makes us all individuals. If molds (even toxic molds) were as dangerous to our health as we've been led to believe, then homeowners of homes with toxic mold wouldn't survive long enough to hire contractors to remove that menace from their presence. In fact, in most cases, those homeowners are in pretty good health when they first learn about the presence of toxic mold in their midst from a contractor wanting to remove it for them. Think about that.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 12-24-10 at 12:26 AM.
 

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