Finding Mold Source

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  #1  
Old 09-27-15, 12:40 PM
J
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Finding Mold Source

Hello,

We have an old house with a finished basement. After some dumb moves on my part (keeping both doors to a room closed and closing the a/c vent to that room) there's a noticeable musty smell coming from one of the rooms. My question is about how to find out where it's coming from.

There was a small hole in the wall (from a nail being pulled out) and I thought I could smell the musty smell when I went close to it. Made a little square hole; not sure it's coming out of there anymore. The other likely culprit is the carpet (I'm pretty sure it's just carpet over concrete). How can I check both the carpet and the wall in the least destructive way possible?

The wall is insulated, I think with fiber-glass. Here are pictures of the insulation and the hole in the wall:
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The carpeting is wall-to-wall. I'd love to be able to just pull up the edge against the wall and look under it, but it doesn't seem to want to come up that way.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

(For what it's worth, I have a dehumidifier going to at least there shouldn't be new growth.)
 
  #2  
Old 09-27-15, 01:13 PM
J
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Going to more then just open up this tiny hole to figure this one out.
There's a couple thousand post about how to finish out a basement on this and any DIY website.
At least 90% of the issues are dealt with outside.
Proper grading, gutters, no mulch or landscape timbers forming ponds against the foundation.
If someone just built some walls jambed in fiberglass insulation again the foundation there's going to be mold issues.
 
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Old 09-27-15, 03:34 PM
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Hi jd,
It does sound like your basement may have some construction issues that will make make it prone to mold. Carpet over concrete is not good in most cases and if that fiberglass insulation is in contact with the concrete, ouch. Here is a link to get you started.
Understanding Basements | Building Science Corporation

Bud
 
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Old 09-27-15, 04:48 PM
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A musty smell does not always equal mold, some people just have a vivid imagination. Or did I miss where you mentioned that you have actually found some mold somewhere? If there is any dirt crawlspace that is probably where your musty smell is coming from. Closing off the room from ventilation would obviously make it more noticable when you enter the room. Similar to someone complaining about a room that is cold, if you close the door to the heat, the room will obviously get colder.

Its possible that if the drywall was put on over a damp concrete foundation that it could be moldy, and the same might be said for the carpet, and the only way to find out is to tear it out. But it would be a pretty sad thing if you tore it out and found no mold. This happens more often than not. People just seem to be very paranoid when it comes to mold. Of course, as Bud mentioned, when improper methods are used in basement finishing, mold becomes more likely.
 
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Old 09-30-15, 05:57 AM
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Most likely you just need a good cleaning and put a dehumidifier in that room for a day.
 
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Old 10-03-15, 07:31 AM
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Hi All,

Many thanks for the thoughts, suggestions, and the link to learning about basements. I definitely feel like I understand my house a little better now.

For my particular problem, I pulled up the carpet a little and found that the corner was soaked.Name:  IMAG2069.jpg
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I don't know for sure there's mold but I am allergic to mold and have been having trouble since we moved into the house in 2012.

The large square hole in the picture is an access door to our (non-functioning) main shut-off valve. Could it have been a leaky pipe? Because the water is concentrated in the corner my guess is that it's coming in through there but perhaps someone here knows better?

Also, I pulled a piece of insulation out of that hole which had the must smell and maybe mold on the bottom; at least it had some discoloration.

To clean up the mold, I've basically sprayed some bleach around and am trying to get rid of the water. The dehumidifier doesn't seem like the best thing (been going for a couple days and still a reasonable amount of moisture there). Any better ideas?

I'm very much not wanting to tear into walls if I don't have to. But maybe I do? I'd very much appreciate any advice on how to proceed. I guess I have a lot of questions; specifically:
  1. What's the best way to dry this space out?
  2. What's the best way to kill any mold that may have grown?
  3. Should I get rid of the carpet and replace with a different flooring? What kind?
  4. Should I assume that much of the insulation is moldy as well? Should I have it tested?
  5. Will I need to break open the drywall in the corner anyway to solve the long-term seepage issue? If I call a basement sealing company in should I do that beforehand?
  6. This wall is by a gutter that didn't get cleaned properly for a couple of years ( I know, my own fault ). But it was cleaned a couple of months ago. My guess is that the water soaking the matting is probably new and that cleaning the gutters won't have fixed the real issue. Any thoughts?


I realize that's a lot of questions; I very much appreciate people taking the time to help me.

Many thanks,
Justin
 
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Old 10-03-15, 08:55 AM
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O.k., so I decided not to wait on the padding. Here's the floor underneath:
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You can see some mold (at least I think it's mold) growing on the tack strip.

So I'm thinking I'll probably get rid of the carpet too. So that I suppose answers some of my questions. New question
Can anyone tell from the look of the basement whether or not I need to worry about the other rooms? It looks like the concrete was painted; is that a sufficient protection against water coming through?
Thanks again for any help!
 
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Old 10-03-15, 09:30 AM
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The discoloration around the tacks is common and probably not a concern. Carpeting in a basement can be though and I have attached some related reading. Very busy so repost any question that remain.

I'm supposed to be retired, but will have to wait until I'm horizontal for that.

Concrete Floor Problems | Building Science Corporation
Bud
 
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Old 10-03-15, 10:10 AM
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I see no mold in any of the pictures posted.
 
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Old 10-03-15, 11:49 AM
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It could be a leak at a pipe or elbow or it could be dripping from condensation. Either way, drywall should be ripped out to investigate it. If it's only wet after a rain, then that's a different issue, best tackled from the outside.
 
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Old 10-15-15, 02:35 AM
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Hi All,

Thanks again for the many helpful suggestions. I did open up the drywall and found a fair amount of mold (on the bottom of the drywall and some on the drywall frame). Name:  IMAG2080.jpg
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I'm in the middle of trying to remediate right now. I've thrown out the modly drywall and bleached the affected areas of the frame (I know it's controversial but I just did it as a first step) and then scrubbed them with a wire brush. While scrubbing I discovered that the bottom piece of wood on two of the frames is rotten and contains mold. So I think I need to cut them out and replace them. This is possibly a silly question, but any advice on doing that? I'm guessing I would put in similarly sized pieces of wood but then what's the best way to nail them in? Should I nail diagonally from the posts? Or use wood glue?

Picture of the frame is here in case it's helpful
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Thanks in advance for any help, and thanks again for all the good advice I've received already!
 
 

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