Is This Mold?

Old 11-21-13, 04:52 PM
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Is This Mold?


Me & my mom recently purchased a vacation condo apartment in FL. When we came in with the realtor beforehand to look at it, there was a very heavy stale smell. We figured that since the apartment had been vacant for 6 months, that after we move in, clean it up, and air it out, the smell would go away (the place was in good condition when we bought it, just needed a paint job, and to fix some stuff here and there), but it didn't.

The smell was mainly in the kitchen area (which is also near the HVAC closet). We started trying to narrow down the cause. Called the A/C people first, thinking maybe the A/C unit was giving the smell. But it wasn't, although we did find out that the A/C had a broken compressor, which they fixed. Then we called them to clean the vents & ducts, thinking that was the problem. But after they were cleaned, the smell was still there.

Next, we thought to check in the kitchen (where it smelled the strongest). We replaced the old garbage disposal, cleaned out everything underneath the kitchen island, fixed the dishwasher (which was giving off a similar smell). Even though the smell became less noticeable, it was still there. Especially when you walk into the apartment, and oddly enough, you can feel it slightly throughout the rest of the apartment.

But today (and earlier in the month), when I opened the HVAC closet, I noticed these blacks spots on the pipes, and on the ceiling (pictures are attached). And I'm starting to wonder if that's mold, and if that's what was (and still is) giving off that smell. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-22-13, 03:05 AM
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Welcome to the forums! It does look like mold, but in its infancy stage. I would spray down the obvious areas with a weak bleach/water solution to get rid of it. Without seeing into the area above the duct work (ceiling) you don't know to what extent it goes. Do you have access to the attic part of the apartment? Is this a common area? You may want to get the landlord involved if it is. Have you cleaned out all you ptraps under the sinks and tubs in the kitchen and bathroom(s)? Often residual hair and gunk will get stuck there and when it begins to rot, it is awful. From what you have described as to the worst locations, that would be my starting point. Are you on a septic system or sewer?

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