Mold and Mildew
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
Mold and Mildew
Does anyone know of a company that can check our crawl space for mold? And,
ideally, someone who can assess it for as low a fee as possible!
-Wanting to make sure my baby stays healthy!
I highly recommend Indoor Environmental Engineering to test your
attic for mold. Their website is http://www.iee-sf.com/. If you have reason to believe you have
mold, spend the money to have the testing done thorouhgly and
competently. IEE will write a set of detailed protocols,
recommend various remediation companies, and then come back to do
a clearance test. Save your money by hiring the cheapest
remediation company as long as they give you a fixed bid and
guarantee they'll pass the final inspection.
Hi- I'm looking for information on how to deal with a damp,
moldy/mildewy smell in the lower level of our home (including in
our daughter's bedroom) that comes and goes, appearing
particularly after periods of damp weather. I seem to be the
only one who smells it so it is pretty much on me to resolve it,
but then I have a very sensitive nose. it seems to be worst in
the areas around the windows that are single-paned; rooms with
double-paned windows seem unaffected. I've looked in the area
around the window sills and I can see some dusty-looking areas
around the glass edges but they appear to be OUTside, so a swipe
with bleach and water may not be the answer there; there is more
subtle discoloration around the ledges of windows we often open
(we have not been doing so lately because of all the pollen in
the air but this isn't good either!) we are on a very tight
budget at the moment; does anyone know of a reasonable way to get
this problem looked at by some kind of expert, or handle it
myself? I am not at all handy. many thanks!
I can't rec'md anything about the discoloration around the window
ledge- sounds like some kind of water leakage/rot. But I know
how to help with the mildewy smell. My bottom floor is cold and
smelly too, so I put a small vase in each room, fill it about 2
inches with undiluted white vinegar, and that absorbs odors.
Work for kitchens too- love that vinegar!
Cold 1st Floor
Have you tried a dehumidifier? They are inexpensive and migh be
all you need.
It would be a good idea to replace your single-pane windows with
double-paned windows when you can afford it. It will reduce
condensate on the windows in winter.
Like dry air
You can buy a do-it-yourself mold kit to find out whether the
smell is being caused by a dangerous variety of mold. The kits
are sold at the Home Depot, and probably other local hardware
stores. If the test comes back positive, you can hire a mold
specialist to locate the source and get rid of it. I wouldn't
waste any time b/c black mold can cause some very severe health
Mold and mildew starts to form when you have 2 main things: a
substance that can be consumed (wood) and on-going moisture
(either from water or vapor load). If you want to remedy mold
you have to get rid of the moisture. Vapor loads come from
typical household use (shower, cooking, plants breathing, etc.)
as well as unsealed crawlspaces and water issues under/around the
house. You can measure the humidity level around the house and
do an investigation to figure out where there is high humidity
(anything above 60% humidity for a sustained period of time can
lead to mold issues). My company, Advanced Home Energy, can do
this kind of testing and remediation work. Please email me if you
are interested in more info.
Try a de-humidifier. It worked for my basement.
We have also been plagued by mold and have found great success in
diffusing an essential oil blend called ''Thieves'' which is made
by Young Living. This seems to kill the mold and mildew without
causing the mold spores to release frantically in a last-ditch
effort to survive/propogate. Mold can be a serious problem for
your health and your family's. You can write me for more info on
get it online. Best of luck!
One of the first things you should try is to place plastic
sheeting on the ground underneath the room. You can buy this
very inexpesively from home depot or whereever. You just spread
it out on the ground, no need to afix it to the ground. This
keeps the moisture in the ground from rising up into the room.
Worked great for me and it's a very simple solution and a good
first step. Then you can try more expensive measures. You can
also put a dehumidifier in the room. I have one for sale that I
no longer use because the plastic sheeting worked so well. Even
though you may think the prolem is in small specific areas like
near the window, it is usually a problem of the whole area being
high in relative humidity from the moisture rising up from below.
With the cold weather and the rain, we have developed some mold
on our bedroom ceiling (the only room in the house that has
this problem) above the head of the bed. We had the attic
checked out and it doesn't seem to be a roof leak. Now the
mold is starting to get on the furniture. Does anyone know of
non-toxic (i.e. not dousing everything with bleach) way to both
get rid of the mold and keep it from coming back? We are on a
tight budget and can't afford to hire professionals to come in
and do it and I don't want anything toxic around my toddler.
Google ''tea tree oil mold.'' Tea tree oil is a fungicide. It
completely took care of mold on our walls. Bleach is a waste of
time anyways -- just doesn't do the job.
We had a similar mold problem in our 1924 house. After wiping
down the walls with diluted bleach solution and airing the house,
we invested in a $350 dehumidifier from allergybuyer.com (I think
that's the name) It's a ''comfortaire'' which works amazingly well.
We run it in the morning for a couple of hours and again in the
evening; it sucks gallons of moisture from the rooms. We are not
left to feel dessicated or parched, but the mold issue is GONE.
It seems well worth it. Good luck.
I have been suffering with terrible allergies in my home; and am
clearly worse in one particular room. There is no mold or water
damage present in any obvious places, but a recent air quality
report has found high levels of mold spores in the air of this
room. I'm afraid there might be mold in the walls. All other
avenues have been exhausted. How do I begin to investigate this?
Any advice on who to call or steps to take? Thanks!
Fed up with horrible allergies
I highly recommend Indoor Environmental Engineering (www.iee-sf.com),
415.567.7700, for mold testing. They thoroughly test your home for mold, develop
a detailed, written protocol for removal, and retest to be sure everything's clear. I
hired them when I became ill after a gun-for-hire mold inspector sent by my
former insurance company (AAA) 'cleared' my home after taking two air samples and
literally phoning in a 'protocol,' compared to IEE's 20+ air and surface samples and
16-page protocol. The remediation company I hired to remove the mold said IEE's
inspections were the toughest in the Bay Area to pass; they had to redo one area of
the house for it to clear at no additional cost (it was a fixed price contract and
had to pass the final inspection), and I've had no health issues since. It was worth
every penny. Good luck!
Our toddler has had several coughs this winter and we have been
using a humdifier in his room on many nights. Unfortunately,
it has created a lot of mold on the ceilings and walls. I
removed a lot of it with Simple Green but am hesitant to use
bleach because it seems so strong. Anyone have tips on either
how to remove mold or how to humidify a room without growing so
much mold? Are there humdifiers that are less mold-producing?
We have pretty standard paint in the bedroom--I think flat
paint on the ceiling and semi-gloss on the walls.
I grew up in Berkeley and suffer from mold allergies. I
using a humidifier at all. The east bay climate breeds mold
like no other
place in the country. It is hard to find a house that isnt prone to
molding, but there are some steps to take to prevent the growth.
First you should buy a mold testing kit at ACE hardware for
send it away to be analized. it costs about $40.00, but well
especially of you have toxic mold, which is very dangerous!
if you rent, your landlord is responsible for treating the
sometimes entails moving out for a couple weeks while they deal
But legally, they are responsible for your accommodations while
Second, I have had great luck with heat and air. Simply
windows once a day to get a good cross breeze can eliminate
some of the
mold. However, with the rain season, its best to do this when
comes out, and afterwards turn the heater on for at least 20
dry out the walls.
Good luck, and be careful! My sister and her kids had toxic
mold in their
house, and it made them very ill for a long time.
Our humidifier manual says not to use it in a closed space. Have
you thought about cracking open the window?
I can't respond to removing mildew, but I know of a product you might try to reduce
the mildew in the first place. It's called DampRid and I just learned about it when we
moved to Hawaii. We're in a very rainy part of our island and it gets very damp in the
house. I found that when we didn't use the DampRid for a few days, it felt more humid
in our house and the bedrooms started smelling musty. I'm not sure exactly how it
works (I'm sure you can google it), but it has these absorbing particles, that you can
refill as needed, and they sit above a container that fills with water pulled from the air.
I just put them up high in closets, etc. I bought it at a hardware store and at Walmart
here. Give it a try.
No mildew for me
Try letting more fresh air into the room during the day. Also,
light kills and deters mold- get more light into the room more
often. I understand there are special ionic air cleaning
machines from Sharper Image with special lights on them that
kill mold very effectively. My co-worker says he has one and it
works very well. Good lUck
In my experience, in our home (especially in an unheated
uninsulated closet next to a heated but uninsulated-walls
bedroom) it was not the type of humidifier (cold or warm) that
made the difference, but the simple act of having the air be
humid and having it condense on cold surfaces (just like the
outside of a cola bottle). In our daughter's room we tried to
humidify her room when she was young but found that that ended
up causing mildew to grow in her closet. Condensation also
started to collect on and run down her walls. We ended up
feeling that the air here in the Bay Area unlike winter back
east) is humid enough and adding more humidity to her room was a
net loss, health-wise. So if you do what we did, you'll stop
using the humidifier, perhaps crack the window open at night,
and avoid the mold and the bleaching/mold killing chemicals
Bleach will only temporarily remove mold. Use a fungicide
cleaner to remove mold from surfaces.Also,allow air to circulate
in his room to inhibit growth.
I forgot to mention: EPA-registered mold fungicide
The mold may not only exacerbate the cough, but lead to other
problems. Bleach is really the best way to clean it - use a
solution, not undiluted bleach...
I don't know the answer to low-humidity humidifiers...
Yes humidifiers can create mold on your walls and inside the
humidifier itself. The best thing to avoid the mold is, to not
keep the humidifeir on for more thatn a few hours at at time.
Also move the humidifier to differnt spots in the room so the
mold does not grow from the constant moisture hitting the same
place on the celing. Open the window a little in the room when
you are using the humidifier that will also slow down mold
growth. YOu should never leave water sitting in your humidier
when you are not using it. After a few days , empty it, clean
it and dry it well (sitting it outside in the sun is a good
idea). If you have mold growing in this humidifier get rid of
it. If there is mold in your humidifier when you turn it on it
will be putting a moldy mist in you room. This is very bad for
your sick child. Mold grows where there is moisture and lack
of air. I work in the asthma field I recommend people use the
humidifiers on a very limited basis. Good luck
As child, my Mom put a card table over the bed and put a bed
sheet over the card table. The humidifier was then put on table
next to the bed with bed sheet over the humidifier. This
created a tent with the steam inside. The humidifier is put at
a lower setting, so the humidity is in the tent. I would then
put a de-humidifier in the room to remove the humdidity from
outside the tent. Regarding the mildew and mold, that could be
why your child has the persistant cough. Removing the
sheetrock or plaster and the insulate the walls is the only
permanent solution. If that is not possible, spray the area
with bleach (let dry), paint the area with a fast dry oil base
primer with a mildew additive added to the primer (Kelly Moore
paints has it). Then paint the room with any paint of your
choice, but with the mildew additive in the paint. Good Luck.
Someone mentioned using an air filter from sharper image with
an ionizer. I thought there might be a problem with those.
Were they recalled? Might be good to look into that or the
effects of ionizers.
Our house has a basement with 6' ceilings, with cracked concrete
floor sheathing 1.5 inches thick covering half, and a compacted dirt
floor in the other half. We've lived in the house for 8 years. Late
last spring a white mold or fungus started growing on the dirt side.
The soil was saturated (water table is shallow) when the growth
began. I sprayed the white growth with bleach and scraped it off,
then put fans in basement to dry it out, coinciding with rain stopping
for the summer months. The soil is now dry but the white growth
covers the the soil.
Has anyone had an experience like this? Could you tell me what
you did to stop the growth? How can I tell whether it is mold or
fungus? Internet research says that mold can be ameliorated by
spraying with bleach, also that it needs moisture to
grow but because it grew back this summer after dried out, I am t
hinking it could be something else-a fungus perhaps. I am hoping
if it is such, that health concerns might not be as serious. We would
like to address this with a low cost, do-it-yourself solution if possible,
but welcome recommendations for professional help if that is the
Thank you in advance for any advice you might be able to provide.
Nervous homeowner, winter coming
You may be able to get some help with identifying this through the Agricultural
Extension office or possibly through Dr. Raabe at the UC Botanic Garden. They
probably want a sample to look at
Are you sure it's mold? might just be calcium deposits
we had extra minerals
Could also be efflorescence (sp?) which is not mold, but (I
think) minerals that migrate through damp masonry and crystallize
upon hitting the air. You may want to look into how you can
shunt water away from your basement by draining it before it
gets to your house, or putting in a vapor barrier of some sort.
I am no expert and hopefully you will find one here
For the people who asked about:
*Mold In Basement
*Removal of Ceiling Popcorn
*Carpenter To Install Skylight
*Contractor, pest, heating/duct, electrical needed
*Contractor Needed for Garage Door Replacement
*Contractor Who Might Call Us Back...
We called Glen Larsen when my basement was flooding. He came
out promptly and put together a drainage system that solved my
problem. He explained things step-by-step and took the mystery
out of my water problems. I now have a dry basement have
confidence that it won't be soggy this rainy season.
We have since used Glen and his crew for many other home
improvement and repair jobs in our house, my mum's house, and
her rental. He always calls back.
You can reach Glen at 510-232-9122
Our house was built in 1898 and the wooden windows, which appear to be original,
drafty. I'd like to get the top-down bottom-up pleated honeycomb shades
from Hunter-Douglas or a similar brand. However, I've noticed several older
my lower Rockridge neighborhood with these... and they're moldy. I'm looking for
advice from someone with an older house with these type of honeycomb blinds. If
windows are open for ventilation all night, is it still likely that the blinds
will get moldy?
What has been your experience? Any way to avoid the mold with these blinds,
still keeping the look of my older windows (not replacing them with double paned
Hi - we have the honeycomb, Hunter Douglas shades on our windows
in a 1920s house with the old drafty wood windows. Firstly,
shades and curtins work better than just shades. However we do
get a lot of condensation on the insides of our windows in the
winter. It collects at night when the shades are down and a
couple of our shades started to mildew before I realized it. We
only have this problem in the bedrooms, not in any other room in
the house - I assume this is because the sleeping people put off
the moisture that condenses on the windows. So, now I keep the
window open a crack behind the shades (they're double hung so I
can open the top rather than the bottom) and then open everything
up in the morning to air it all out.
It doesn't get that cold here so it's not a big deal and the kids
all bundle up in bed and stay plenty warm
We are starting to suspect that something in my 3 year-old son's
room is provoking allergy symptoms in him. He has NEVER had
allergies or health problems before. However, for the past few
months, he has had a stuffy or runny nose, itchy nose and face,
and even one rash (although this may have been due to
sunscreen). At first, we just thought it was one cold after
another (fairly typical for his age), but lately both my husband
and I have noticed that after we sit in his room for a few
minutes (e.g. to read him a story at night), WE start to have
scratchy throats and stuffy noses -- after only a few minutes!
I plan to take some basic measures such as covering his (organic
cotton) mattress in a dust mite proof encasing, removing stuffed
animals, dusting and vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum, and maybe
even trying an air filter. I am concerned, however, that the
cause might be mold, and I really have no idea how to go about
investigating this, much less remediating it. There is no
visible mold and no odor, but I know there are many types of
mold that could cause symptoms that don't have an odor. His
room has a carpet (installed 3 years ago), and there is a
basement under his room. We have used a humidifier occasionally
over the years whenever he has had croup (a couple times per
year). I spoke with the asthma nurse at Kaiser, and she said to
check the basement under his room to see if there is mold and
mildew growing. I'm sure there will be (there was some water on
the floor of the basement after all those heavy rains in March),
but then what? Does anyone have experience with this who could
share the steps to go through in investigating and remediating
this type of problem? We are renting, but our landlord is very
responsive and would probably be willing to do whatever needs to
be done (within financial reason. I just don't really know how
to get started.
I have been to Dr. Vincent Marinkovich in Redwood City (650) 482-2800. From what I
understand, he is one of the two top doctors that specialize in mold related heath problems
in the country. He might be covered by your insurance (but the labs are expensive). They
also have these simple tests for mold in your home ($20) for which you just set out a petri
dish in the room for 20 minutes. These petri dishes might also be available at Whole Foods,
etc., where another lab would process them.
Check out Sustainable Spaces (www.sustainablespaces.com) out of San Francisco. I have been
wanting to do so myself. My daughter seems to be fine but my allergies are horendous in my
house -- and definitely worse in some rooms (including my daughter's room). I purchased a
Blue Air filter. My research concluded its one of the best on the market. And if you have
forced air, a filter for your furnace is a must. I can't say this has helped me much,
though. Unfortunately, I'm still pretty miserable.
Would love to hear a follow up after you investigate!
In my finished basement I have some mold and dampness on some
walls, and I also have some mold and dampness on some parts of
a floor (that is covered with that astroturf-like wall-to-wall
carpeting). I assumed it was a drainage problem, and that it
meant I need to have drains installed. A friend came by
recently and looked and said since there was no flooding it
might not be a drainage issue. Is this true? If it's not
drainage, what is it and how can I get stop the mold from
coming back after bleaching it away?
Many thanks for your advice on this!
Mold needs water to proliferate. So at some point you had water
intrusion and probably still have it. No point in cleaning up
the mold until you have taken care of the water intrusion.
Try getting a de-humidifier. This will take the excess moisture out of the
air in your basement.
My uncle lives in Seattle and uses one in his basement. It works.
Was raised where it rains
As an interior designer, one thing I'm concerned about is indoor
air quality. You probably have insufficient ventilation which
causes moisture build-up. I suggest you contact Sustainable
Spaces for an evaluation of your home. You can call Matt Golden
at (415) 294 5380 X22. Otherwise, I suggest you call Build It
Green which is a non profit based in Berkeley. They have tons of
resources of buidling professionals dealing with mold issues.
I don't have their phone number at hand but you'll find it on
their website: www.builditgreen.org
Wishing you a healthy home.
a dehumidifier will help a lot- they are typically loud but
that should be alright in a basement. I think you run them 12-
24 hours a day. still, try to find out the cause and fix if
possible. we have a sump pump in our basement which sometimes
gets floody from being below ground level, but if you never see
flooding you probably don't need a sump pump.
I had a similar issue a short while ago in my detached garage/turned office (slab-
on-grade) and found it was from oversaturation of the soil from all the rains. I got
some good suggestions from Frank Haskell of Stonebridge Painting & Waterproofing
(510.595.1379) to ''deal with'' this act of nature.
I had the exact same problem that kept reoccurring in my
basement. It turned out to be a drainage issue that was never
dealt with properly. I was referred to a company called
Purofirst Oakland East Bay (510) 482-4545 because it is run by a
General Contractor who also specializes in mold remediation.
It's a great one-stop-shop and I have not had the problem since!
We have a 1950's cinderblock home. We now have mold on our
bedroom wall (the wall without a heater) and around numerous
windows. The windows need to be replaced but I don't know what
should happen with the walls or the plastered windowframe area.
I would love suggestions on who to call for advice and
short/longterm solutions. We have little extra funds right now
to pay for this and the bleach and water solution I have been
using doesn't seem the safest for us or the kids. Also, if you
know of any books about keeping up cinderblock homes I would be
Dreading the Rain
Have you thought about getting a dehumidifier? Our house is
over 100 years old - and we bleach only once a year - when I
start to see the mold (I wear a mask and use straight bleach)
and use the dehumifier the rest of the winter. It helps A
We had the same problem - mold on our bedroom (exterior) walls
First, we replaced the windows... helped a little
Then, we got central heating... helped a little more
Finally, we did french drains around that side of the house
since there was not much crawl space underneath.
That seemed to do the trick!
So, the problem for us was obviously moisture & cold.
I am a professional painter, and deal with mold regularly.
1. Wash area with TSP, trisodium phosphate, sold in hardware
stores, many other places. This will get rid of it.
2. To keep it away, go to a paint store and ask for mildecide
to be added to a can of primer or paint which you use to paint
the areas affected. You can also get ''mold and mildue killing''
primer by Zinsser. (You have to ask for the additive,and they
have to put it in the paint for you because it has become a
somewhat ''controlled substance'' since some kids are now using
it as they used airplane glue in the past. to get high.
3. I use this additive quite often, and when it is added to a
gallon of paint it is not noticeable by odor, or in any other
way, at least to me or most people. I had a woman call me
once who had had her whole inside house painted with mildecide
additive, then she found out she was allergic to it! But this
was the only time I ever heard of any adverse affect on
humans. Yes it is a chemical that kills mold, a life form, but
diluted in a can of paint, and spread in a wall, it is not a
potent volatile chemical to humans, unless you have an allergy
3. Keep the area well ventilated and exposed to sunlight as
often as possible. Watch for recurrance, and if you do see it
starting up (the mildecide becomes inaffective at some point. A
year?) wash it with TSP before it can get going again.
We have mold growing on our bathroom walls and ceilings. Not a
lot, but enough to notice (can't smell it yet...)
Also the white grout(?) between the tiles has a lot of areas
that are dark with either dirt or I suspect, mold.
How do we clean this? Is there a fab product? Do I need to do
bleach and a toothbrush in between the tile? I was hoping to
paint the bathroom in the next few months but need to clean the
mold first. Bleach? TSP? Vinegar?
I'd rather not use any heavily toxic stuff. Any recs.
missing my house cleaner
Just use bleach. The trick is to let it sit for a while (about 10
min) after you apply it. No need to get out the toothbrush, just take an
old sponge, use gloves, and sponge bleach onto all of the moldy/mildewed
areas. After about 10 min (it will have
disappeared) rinse the whole area THOUROUGHLY with water. Your
mold/mildew will be gone. Alternatively, you can use a tile product that
contains bleach (Tilex mold and mildew? I think?) and just spray it on.
Make sure to wear gloves, and make sure to rinse well. To prevent mold
in the future just make sure that the bathroom is as well ventilated as
possible, and that it dries out completely in between showers.
Got rid of my mold
I nearly never use anything toxic in the house, but regular chlorine
bleach is the fastest and most efficient for killing/ cleaning the mold
(I also tried vinegar and a $20 natural enzyme mold product.) Wear
gloves and a mask! and ventilate the room as much as possible (fan and/
or open the window is there is one) Chris
I've had good results using Oxi-clean (which is in theory for laundry
but has a bunch of other uses) or other hydrogen peroxide based
non-chlorine bleach cleansing powders and a scrub brush.
hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and a tooth brush, then bleach. works
great good luck
we have this problem too. If the mold is growing in between the tiles on
the wall, you can clean it with a toothbrush and almost any kind of
cleanser. If it's growing in the caulk (between the tile and the tub,
for instance) that's a much bigger problem because most older caulks are
silicon based and no amount of scrubbing will remove the mold. Usually
the only thing that works is to scrape away the old caulk with a knife
tedious) and recaulk with one that doesn't contain silica. You can tell
the difference because grout is powdery/chalky and the mold is usually
brownish and lifts off easily while caulk is shiny/slick, and the mold
is usually dark black and looks ''set in'' to the material.
I would definitely call the ''Grout Doctor'' to get rid of the mold.
530-3104. He can also advise you what to do to keep it from coming
back. Important to nip it in the bud.
You're right to be cautious about toxic cleaning products when
alternatives work well and don't have the risks of usage or storage.
I've ordered products from a company called Melaleuca, The Wellness
Company, for 17 years and especially love the bathroom cleaners. (The
Melaleuca oil in the products kill mold.) I don't find the website very
user friendly, and I can help you understand the process of ordering.
Tea tree oil is supposed to work but smell bad, Gratefruit seed extract
is supposed to work and smells better.
Myself, I am going to call the grout doctor! Yay!
We recently found a ton of mold under the house (crawlspace). Does anyone have good recommendations for a mold analysis lab and for people (licenced in this) that do mold remediation? Any anwers will be much appreciated. We really want to move on this soon.
In response to someone looking for mold abatement. I would call Sal at Synergy (510) 259-1700. His company has been doing abatement for years. They did the asbestos abatement in our old house and were quick and professional. We were very happy with them. They handle all types of abatement.
Last January we found mold behind our shower wall backing to a closet. We fielded a couple of quotes for the abatement. One was by a real 'slick' guy suggesting all manner of costly investigation. The other guy, Steve Villareal, came out and was a 'real' contractor. He reminded me of my father who was a superindendent for Morrison/Knudsen. He came out for a very fair price and sealed off the area, cleaned out the mold, then sealed it with an anti mold sealant the next day. We are very satisfied with the job. He's licensed and specializes in mold abatement. The company name is Nova Abatement & Construction Services, Inc. Address 3051 Research Drive, Richmond. Phone 510 223-1744, cell 510 734-7602. Good luck. KM
Hello! I need a little advice. I am renting a home with a very
bad mold problem. I know the source of the problem lies
underneath the house and would need a complete plumbing
restoration to correct. The issue is that my 16 month old
remains sick. Originally we assumed he was just catching a lot
of colds but upon speaking with his pediatrician, we learned
that he could be having an adverse reaction the mold. I
thoroughly clean the visible spores but Iím sure itís in the
walls. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding de-
humidifiers or air purifiers. Pro and/or cons of both. Also, if
replacing the plumbing, drywall and carpet is the only real
solution, does anyone have advice as to whether or not the
Landlord is obligated to make the repairs? We were informed of
the mold issue upon moving in (6 years ago) but is was not
really a serious problem until now. Any info would be great.
You don't say where you live, but the San Francisco Tenants
Union in SF on Capp Street can direct you to the similar
organization in your area. Rest assured that you are
protected, your tenancy is protected and your land lord is
responsible for all repairs to abate the mold problem EVEN
if you were told about the mold when you moved in. This is
not something your land lord should get away with. Mold is
dangerous and you won't and can't be evicted for reporting
the problem to a higher authority nor will you have to pay for
its removal. Good luck.
I don't think the landlord's ''informed consent'' is an exemption
from fixing the problem, but it does make the person
unconscionable, unethical, or at the very least ignorant. It is
dangerous for anyone, and especially horrible for a baby. The
landlord is responsible for doing the work immediately and
certainly you could sue if you wanted. This is reason to move
ASAP. The mold exposure to your baby can set up a lifetime of
allergy and asthsma problems. This is Really Serious. I am an
adult with allergies after living in a rented house with
similar issues (bathroom pipes behind walls leaking) the
landlord let us tear out the carpet- this helped a lot yet not
enough- but I continued to smell mold when no one else could
smell anything and I continued to have breathing problems at
night- finally moved I know it's a big deal to move, but mold
exposure is bigger.
PRODUCTS: Air purifiers are not effective as they collect just
some of the mold spores and even if they claim to germicidally
kill the spores, live or dead spores in the room (including in
the filter of the purifier) still cause allergic reactions. De-
humidifying should definitely help, though best if there is a
basement- they are so loud it is unlikely you could find one
you could run at night in the house. allergybuyersclub.com has
great info./ resources you do not have to buy their stuff
necessarily. I did buy their product called ''air free'' can't
remember exactly what its deal is, but it's silent, runs all
the time, no filters- AND you are welcome to borrow ours for a
few months (until you move?) as we are using it in current
basement room but no longer need it for bedroom (we moved.)
Please e-mail if you want to borrow the air-free thingy (look
up on the allergybuyersclub website).
Yes, the landlord is responsible for the repairs. Mold is a
serious health risk.
In fact, this is something you could successfully sue over,
though hopefully it will never come to that.
My otherwise well-functioning washing machine smells bad (mold)
when it hasn't been run for a few days. I'm wondering if anyone
has had this happen and solved it. Thanks in advance.
We recently got a new washing machine, and the manual states that
periodically you should run a hot load with bleach added. Also,
you should leave the door open and let it air dry after a load is
We had a similar problem with our Maytag Neptune front loader,
which angered me when considering the money we paid for this high
end washer. The users manual suggests ''refreshing'' periodically
by mixing a strong bleach solution, rinsing the door of the
washer with the solution, then pouring the remainder into the
detergent compartment and running a hot cycle. Its a pain to do
but gives good results.
The best way I've found to prevent my washing machine from
smelling moldy is to do my white loads in chlorine bleach.
This kills all the gross stuff in your washing machine. If you
do a bleach load every week or whenever you notice a moldy
smell, it removes the odor like a charm. Incidentally,
contrary to common belief, chlorine bleach is biodegradable.
In fact, if you buy a bottle of bleach and don't use it within
6 months, its elements degrade into salt water and you have to
replace it if you want it to work.
Try running a warm water cycle with 1 cup of Clorox in water
(no laundry). Rinse twice. You may want to do whites for the
first load after that too. Leave the washer door slightly ajar
if a few days between loads, or at least leave it open long
enough to let the thing dry out.
If the smell isn't completely gone, do another clorox cycle.
hope it works.
had it before too
Hi! I recently went down to the basement and got out a whole
bunch of clothes that I can now fit into again, but they all
have that basement-y musty smell. I put them through a wash
cycle and they still smell. Is there anything I can do, short
of taking the lot to the dry cleaners, to get that smell out?
I had this problem with towels. Martha Stewart online suggests
adding a cup of white vinegar to your wash as you put your soap
in. I tried this and it really works! Everyting smells fresher -
no vinegar smell as it rinses out. You can also try a cup of
Say, does anyone have any good ideas on how to keep preservative-
free bread in your house/kitchen? We've bought several
different brands of whole wheat/whole grain breads, and they
seldom last more than 4-5 days before mold spots start showing
up. We've resorted to refrigerating the bread, but it doesn't
taste as good (unless you toast everything); I also heard
somewhere that the starch/gluten changes under the colder
temperatures, and that's what affects taste/texture.
When we buy sliced bread we immediately freeze it and when we buy
something fancier we leave it out for a day or two, then slice whatever
hasn't been eaten and freeze it. Nothing molds, the taste is virtually
unchanged, and all you have to do is pop it in the toaster before eating.
If you don't always want toasted bread you could freeze half the loaf
right away and leave the rest out to eat untoasted.
We get moldy bread, too. We freeze it and leave the loaf in the
freezer. When we need a slice or two, we toast it. My husband
likes it REALLY toasted, but I don't. So I let it go in the
toaster for a little bit, then take it out before it even gets
brown. Otherwise, mold. We also do this with bagels. I'm not a
big fan of toasting, but I'm a bigger fan of non-waste.
You gotta freeze
I have frozen my bread for years. When you are ready to use,
remove approriate amount of slices and either toast, or put in
microwave for a few seconds. You may have to try a few times
wiht the microwave before you get it quite right. If you overdo
it, the bread can get stiff. No special storage techniques are
necessary. The bread needs to be in plastic and sealed. For
artisan loaves, put in plastic bag and squeeze all the air out.
I do not recommend that you microwave artisan loaves of
sourdough, etc. That does not work. Bring to room temperature
over the course of several hours.
For sandwich bread, put it in the freezer as soon as you get home
from the grocery store. When you make a sandwich, just take it
right from the freezer and it will be almost thawed by the time
you have put everything on it and cut in half. Only takes about
10 minutes for a slice of bread to thaw. Of course if it's for
somebody's lunch later, it will be thawed by the time they eat
it. It will taste very fresh if you freeze it immediately and
take it out of the freezer as needed. And by the way, even cold
hard peanut butter spreads nicely on a frozen slice of bread.
I learned this from growing up in Alabama. You should see the
mold on the bread after sitting all day in 90 degrees in a
plastic bag! We didn't refrigerate our bread because we thought
that made it hard and stale-tasting. Always the freezer.
My three year old has multiple food allergies and some airborne
allergies too. He's been taking Zyrtec for a few months and has
had great results. We've done all that we can think of to combat
the airborne allergens in his room(HEPA air purifier, windows
closed, dust mite covers, no stuffed animals in his bed, etc.)
but something is still bothering him around 2:00 am, causing
massive sneezing attacks. Based on what I've read about airborne
allergens, it sounds like he could be having a reaction to mold
spores. These attacks do seem to be worse on damp, foggy days.
Once he is out and about for the day he's fine. He wakes up from
his nap a little congested, but the sneezing only happens in the
Does anyone out there have experience with this kind of allergy?
I don't know where to begin looking for the mold let alone how
to get rid of it. Help!
I have mold allergies, and what you are describing sounds about
right. The best thing I did for my mold allergies was to move
from Seattle to Walnut Creek. The relative humidity is so low,
it really helps!! Another thing that helps is running the
A/C...it dries out the air and helps around here. I think the
Berkeley/SF area is much more humid and this can cause more
problems. I no longer take routine meds for my allergies, it's
great. Avoid humidifiers and take care of any leaks and check
bathrooms and kitchens regularly for leaky pipes and drippy
faucets. I use a bleach solution and clean the windowsills and
It sounds as though you have taken a number of important
preliminary steps in discovering the reason for your child's
allergy attacks. Based on your observations, it does indeed
sound like mold is one of the prime culprits. I can share some
of my first-hand experience with a mold allergy and hope that
what I say will help you take further steps to protect your
Four years ago, I moved into an apartment in Albany and began to
suffer from a number of disturbing symptoms--acute asthma
attacks, headaches, continuous coughing. Things kept getting
worse in spite of the increasingly aggressive asthma/allergy
treatments prescribed. I was taking 10 different prescription
meds every day--steroids by mouth, by nose, by inhalation;
antihistamines, four different types of inhalers, and
Singulair. My health kept deteriorating--my doctor told me I
was probably allergic to a pollen in my neighborhood and told me
to keep my windows closed and stay indoors as much as possible.
I had several weekend emergency-room visits, and things only
kept getting worse. The more housebound I became, the more
severe my asthma. When I finally underwent allergy testing, I
found out that I was allergic to mold, among other things. My
allergist advised me to ask my housing office to conduct mold
testing. The maintenance supervisor came over, poked and peeked
around a bit, and sent me a letter stating that there was no
mold in my apartment. By the end of my fourth month there, I
was told that my asthma attacks were life-threatening, and I was
already on the highest doses of all the best medications. My
immune system was so depressed by the combination of the severe
asthma and the aggressive drugs used to treat it that when I got
a cold at the end of the semester, I developed pneumonia and
sinusitis. I was coughing so hard that one of the nurses I saw
told me I could fracture my ribs. My allergist told me that if
I didn't leave my apartment immediately, I would probably die.
I ended up having to get a friend to come and get me and my
daughter, and I had to leave everything behind in my apartment
because I was too sick and too weak to take anything with me.
It took three courses of antibiotics to cure the infection. The
severe physical and emotional trauma of the 5-month-long asthma
flare caused me to develop a chronic pain and fatigue condition
I will live with for the rest of my life. I had to take a 2.5-
year medical leave from my program of study, and I will never be
able to gain back the health and strength I had before moving
into my apartment.
By the way, even though the maintenance supervisor denied the
presence of mold in my apartment, I found mold behind the
furniture; and many units of the apartment complex (section B of
the student family housing in Albany) was tested for mold in
2001, and dangerously high levels were found.
Basically, my advice is not just to medicate the allergies. Do
everything you can to eliminate allergens from your child's
environment, even if this means moving. I cannot find the words
to tell you how much my life and health and the well-being of my
family have been disrupted. I cannot find the words to describe
the pain I have to live with as a result of my exposure to high
levels of mold. Not everyone who is exposed to mold will
develop the same symptoms I did, but I don't think it's a risk I
would want to take with my children.
Have your apartment tested for mold. If your apartment complex
will not hire someone to do the testing, find a company that
will do it for you.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or
We just got our lab report from Nelco Laboratories and found out
that, according to their scale we have a ''very unusually high
level'' of cladosporium and penicillium mold. I'm not sure how
worried I should be. Now that we have a central heating system
and have cleaned(clorox) and newly painted our walls I'm not
sure what else to do inside. Just last year we put in vents
alongside the base of the house where we have a crawl space
that, for years had been quite moist but now is not. Has anyone
dealt with this before or have familiarity with this type of
mold' Please get back to me with any advice or recommendations.
Finding mold growing inside your home can be a serious issue, depending on
the magnitude and extent of the contamination and the susceptibility to mold
of people living therein. The health effects of indoor mold chiefly include
respiratory, especially allergy-like, symptoms. The Institute of Medicine
reviewed the literature and found evidence that mold exacerbates asthma, but
there was insufficient evidence that mold exposure leads to the development
of asthma. Allegations that indoor mold causes other serious health effects
(e.g., memory loss or chronic fatigue) have not been scientifically
The steps for addressing this problem always start with identifying and
fixing the source of moisture. During clean-up, it is important to prevent
contamination from spreading from the source area. Moldy rugs, drapes and
other fleecy items usually cannot be thoroughly cleaned, so they will need
to be discarded. Hard surfaces can be effectively cleaned. People
sometimes (erroneously) recommend using bleach to clean, but this is not as
effective as using detergent. Also, bleach can be a respiratory hazard (why
use one hazardous material to clean another?). You can find abundant
literature on-line with details to guide you (see below).
If you wear personal protection equipment (e.g., a good dust mask, gloves,
etc.), you can do the clean-up yourself. Currently, there isn't any kind of
certification for mold abatement services, so "let the buyer beware". See
our guidance document (below) about hiring professionals, if you need to go
that route. In general, mold testing, especially in a case you describe, is
a waste of money - use your resources to fix the obvious problem. It sounds
like the humidifier use was the source of moisture, and discontinuing its
use would be warranted.
Jed Waldman, Chief, Indoor Air Quality Section (and Berkeley Parent)
California Department of Health Services
CA DHS infosheets, including "Mold in my home, What do I do? "
CDC Information on indoor mold
U.S. EPA's "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home"
Guidance document for hiring IAQ professional
We are renting a 1922 home that has some water damage (from the roof
and possibly poor sealing from pipes) and the walls and ceiling have
large brown stains and damp spots. The caretaker apparently repainted
the rooms and now the spots are coming through the paint. The house
also has a mildewy smell or old house smell that we can't seem to air
out no matter how many times we leave the windows open or use room
freshners. This is only the 2nd week of living in this house and we
already signed a year lease. Do we keep repainting the walls and using
air deodorizers? Any suggestions most welcome.
I'm no contractor, but I'm wondering if the house has dry rot. When we
purchased our house it had significant water damage from a leaking
roof and other problems. The house had significant dry rot and we had
to replace a significant portion of our walls. If this is the case
with your house and the walls are permeated with mold, I don't believe
frequent repainting and air fresheners are going to solve the problem.
Especially if the mold is already coming through recently painted
walls. Plus, it can be a health hazard to be living amongst so much
mold. I guess if it were me, I would check with your city's tenant's
rights board to see if this problem gives you recourse to break your
lease without penalty. I wish you luck and hope this resolves easily
I had this problem in my house in Philadelphia, and it was an ongoing
battle. I replaced a few pieces of wet sheetrock (not too difficult -- my
house painter did it for a reasonable charge), which got rid of the mold
temporarily, but the only permanent solution is to stop the water from
coming in -- a tricky problem at best. Obviously, your landlord is
responsible for that. Since mold is becoming notorious as a dangerous
allergen, you might be able to make a case for breaking your lease. In the
meantime, I recommend a dehumidifier and a HEPA or ULPA air purifier (for
some reason, there is no one machine that combines these two functions).
That might help slightly with the smell. If the house has moldy wood that's
out of reach, however, you're probably stuck with it.
This post may overlap with a recent request for advice about items
that had gotten moldy in a damp garage. In my case, I have
discovered that a number of leather and suede shoes in the
bottom of my disorganized closet have become moldy. Yuck. Are
the shoes at all salvagable? How should I clean the closet to
prevent the mold from speading further this winter?
I don't know whether the shoes are salvagable, but here is
how to deal with the closet: Wash down the walls and floor
with a bleach solution. One handy trick to avoid this
problem is to simply leave a lightbulb on in the closet at
all times during the winter, when mold is most likely to
Mold is a sign of high humidity inside the house, of
course. The solution is better ventilation (bathroom,
kitchen especially) and/ or dehumdification. It would be
important to find out if there is moisture under the house,
and correct that and any drainage problems. Then you may
want to heat and run a dehumidifier if the problem is not
solved by the previous measures. (I took a class on this
given by the EPA last year, as mold causes allergies or
asthma in some people).
Christine V, Berkeley nurse & indoor air quality person
What is the Nature of Mustiness? Sounds like a silly
question. But I have a basement full of musty stuff
(basement has flooded every winter, we store our stuff
several inches off the ground). I'm moving to a new house,
brand-new construction, with a carpeted basement, and am
worried about "infecting" it. The metal stuff (bikes, tools)
is probably OK, but I'm concerned about all the porous stuff
(wood, papers, boxes). Does a musty smell mean this stuff is
rife with mold or mildew spores? and if so, can I do anything
to get rid of them? Will airing outside do the job? Should
I avoid using the empty boxes I've stored down there for my
household packing? Can anyone refer me to an "expert"?
I've been doing a bit of searching around on mustiness myself.
Primarily what it is is fungus: i.e., mold, mildew, and something
else I don't remember. My husband is quite allergic to it.
Apparently sunning the stuff can kill the mold, but I haven't
tracked down the original sources on how long and in exactly
what conditions you have to do the sunning. (Book conservation
websites are where I started looking for the info, if you want
to pursue it.) Fungicide kills the fungus but causes other
problems, obviously. What we decided to do was throw away all
our nice moving boxes (that had sat around for 4 years in
humid/damp basements), and sun all our books as best we knew how.
We're still in the middle of doing this so no results to report yet.
Here's another aspect of mustiness.
Once you have the mold (which itself is not always
obvious from looking, more obvious from breathing),
you get other critters too, including the following,
which we've been advised that we have (and which
I've seen in our books):
*** PSOCIDS ***
These pale yellow insects are
about 1/25 inch long and with
short legs and antennae. The
species in houses usually do
not have wings and remain
hidden in damp secluded
(Liposcellis sp.) These small
insects develop from egg to
adult in about 65 days.
throughout the year, the adults
live about 3 months. They feed
on microscopic fungi and
molds in damp locations,
starchy part of books and
wallpaper, they are sometimes
found in cereal.
Remove and discard infested material,
vacuum areas. Reduce harborage sites such
as old books and magazines. Lower the
relative humidity in structure for several days.
The above info comes from the website of UPCRC, the
Urban Pest Control Research Center, an entomology
research/consulting firm that I found on the web
(neither a pesticide company nor an anti-pesticide
group -- just all about bugs).
I have a very damp house, and need advice/information about how to identify
any "dangerous" molds, and the best way to clean and dry them out. We have
black mold on the walls, green mold on the windows, and some kind of spongy
mold on the wooden window sills. Our closets are musty, and hard candy
liquefies on the dresser. Our landlord is completely useless, and we are not
prepared to move. Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Clean with bleach and buy a de-humidifier at Sears.
Someone on the eczema list I belong to recommended a company called
Hygenaire in Grass Valley CA, 1-800-432-2719. I think they have a website
also. I've not tried the mold reduction product yet but am thinking of it.
By the way, when I was in college, we successfully won a small claims court
case against our landlord for a bad mold situation (we took lots of gory
photos). I know it doesn't directly help the mold situation but the cash
came in handy. Good luck.
Check out Allergy Control Inc. (www.allergycontrol.com). They have many
products to deal with mold, including dehumidifiers, chemicals, and an
electronic mold zapper. I can't speak to the efficacy of these products, but
other stuff I've bought from this has been good. The catalogue is better
than their website, and their staff is helpful on the phone too.
I would suggest you contact Barbara Sparks at the local EPA office;
she is the local guru of molds/allergens and an advocate for people
too. Also, the USEPA has a good Indoor Air Quality page with a ton of
info about molds. Its hard if not impossible for you to identify
them; you'd need a lab to do it. But don't waste your money (unless
you want it for legal reasons) because it doesn't really matter; no
mold is acceptable in living conditions and it should all be removed.
You'll find lots of info about how to at that website (basically
bleach and water). But remember, if you don't figure out where the
moisture source is, it will continue to be a problem. So these are
Best of luck.
I don't know anthing about identifying mold, but I can give some
suggestions to clean it and avoid it. Straight bleach (or bleach mixed
with some water, if the mold is less thick) kills mold faster than
anything I know of. I fill a spray bottle with bleach and spray directly
on the spots and leave it for 15 minutes or more, until the mold either
disappears or can be wiped away with a cloth. Then I rinse the whole
area with clean water and a cloth. To avoid mold, we ventilate the house
as much and as often as possible. We keep our windows open at least a
few inches even at night, and often wide open during the day. For
security, you can cut dowels or 1x2's to lock the windows open an inch or
two even at night or when you're away. We also ventilate our clothes
closets by leaving them open just a crack all the time. And we try to
keep all furniture slightly away from the wall, so mold doesn't grow
I know one family who purchased a dehumidifier and were very happy with
it, but I always felt like their house was still steamier than ours. It
seems like you'd have to keep your windows shut all the time in order for
a machine to effectively remove all the water from home air.
My husband was once informed by a professional painter that the
for mold/ mildew is a product called TSP by Jasco. The initials don't
Stand for anything that's just what it says on the label. I got a quart of
the light green fluid in a plastic bottle at Home-depot for about $7.00.
How big your areas of mold are that should do the job because you do have to
dilute the concentrated liquid with warm water as the directions are on the
Bottle. It's very safe non-corrosive, non-flammable and no rinse needed and
has no odor. I used the product myself for our bathroom that doesn't have a
Ventilation system (we just open the window and bought this two-way fan
sits in the window between the window and the ledge etc) but prior to us
moving in the previous renters just let the mildew mold take over the
bathroom. So basically it preps the area for painting and stops further
growth. We also had to paint just to
Make it look better and we used BEHR premium plus mildew proof paint
we got at Home-depot for $17.00 a can. We only used one can and since then
Was about a year ago no further mold has grown. On the bottle of TSP it also
says: "It removes grease, grime, mildew, food stains, crayon, dirt, smoke,
old wallpaper paste and wax from painted or unpainted wood. Their website
also on the bottle www.jaasco.help.com. Hope this helps.
Someone replied to this list mentioning TSP. TSP is trisodium phosphate and
I have read in several places that it's a big pollutant. I would avoid it if
possible. Our painter said he can add fungicide to paint which is used in
areas where mold often grows (for example, on the south side of our house).
When repainting you might find out about that and try it.
A recent posting mentioned concern about TSP as a major pollutant. This
is true if you were to pour your used solution into the storm drain
(never pour anything into the storm drain!). If you pour your solution
down the sink, it goes into the sewer system, where it actually helps
cultivate the bacteria which break down the other nasty sewage stuff in
the waste treatment plant. TSP is not an airborne pollutant. If you get
it on your skin, it will irritate it (and it's bad for the eyes), so wear
gloves when you use it.
I can't remember if earlier writers recommended a bleach solution. This
is the most effective and least toxic (and cheapest!) fungicide you can
use. It will kill the mold on the wall, where TSP will just wash it way
so it can return later. Bleach is the active ingredient in most
commercial mildew removers.
The fungicide that your painter will add may be something called "M-1",
which is, at worst, mildly toxic, and mostly to the painter through skin
contact. Another solution is to apply an exterior paint (even though
this may be an interior wall) because any good exterior paint has an
effective fungicide in it.
It's really disturbing to read about your mold
problem. My husband and I rented a house much like
the one you're living in now, and I developed severe
allergies and allergy induced asthma while living
there. They were caused by the mold which was
constantly releasing spores into the air. Some mold
releases spores when wet, some while dry. You say
that you're not prepared to move and that your
landlord is no help. I agree that it's not easy to
find a place and to move, but mold exposure is
serious, and you should seriously consider relocation.
Please contact the rent board at
or 664-6128... and do it
quickly. If you live in Berkeley you have very
specific and important rights as a tenent. Your
landlord has the responsibility of maintaining the
property in a habitable condition, and this includes
your mold problem. We broke our lease to move out of
our moldy house. Please make sure that you document
any health problems and requests made to your landlord
for repairs and removal of the mold (send letters by
certified mail, and send copies to the rent board).
We got all of our deposit back because we had good
documentation. The sad thing is that our landlord
simply turned around and rented that house to another
couple. We were lucky enough to be able to speak to
them before moving and to let them know WHY we were
leaving. If you have allergies
to other things, you are more susceptible to
developing a mold allergy... and believe me, the last
year has been no picnic for me.
We have a terrible mildew/mold problem in our apartment. It first
manifested itself when we found that all the leather shoes in our
closet had were covered with mold. Lately, any place where furniture
is close to the wall and restricts the air flow, the walls begin to
mold (especially behind our bed). Yesterday I found one of our
daughter's unfinished wooden toys covered in mold.
We've washed specific walls with a bleach solution. Other people have
suggested TSP. I am wondering if we need to get some of the moisture
out of the air.
Any suggestions about ways to deal with the problem systematically,
rather than just cleaning up as it develops? What experience have
people had with mechanical or chemical dehumidifying products?
I am living in an apartment condo. Due to the heavy
humidity in my apartment, mold is easily spread over
the walls, the ceiling and my furniture despite my
efforts of openning windows every day.
Is there any tool or formula to reduce the humidity in
We have also had a serious problem with humidity and mold in our
apartment. We have taken some steps which seem to have worked -- judging
from our improved health and the lack of huge black growth on the walls.
However, it may just be that it hasn't rained as much this year. We
purchased a rather large de-humidifier (Sears) and run it just about all
the time. When the mold produced chronic bronchitis in my husband, we
escalated the attack and purchased an air purifier (HEPA filter)
on-line. It was between $300-$400. We also run that most of the time. We
washed every last bit of our bedding and threw away everything that looked
the tiniest bit moldy. We also repainted our bedroom. We also wash down the
walls frequently with one of those Chlorox cleaners with bleach.
Get a dehumidifier. It's a machine that cools the air in its vicinity
to cause the moisture to condense out. I had one as a child that had a
series of coils. The water then drips off the coils into a cup, and you
periodically empty the cup down the drain.
I am responding to the question of humidity and mold. We recently had
experience with mold and learned quite a bit. You really need to
properly deal with this. Some molds produce allergies but others actually
produce toxins which can be dangerous, especially for children. If you have
a lot of mold in your apartment, it is worth having it analyzed and then
properly removed. We contacted an environmental engineering firm, SINA
Environmental, who analyzed and found 3 different kinds of mold and made
recommendations on how to best get rid of the mold. Sometimes it can be
washed with a 10% bleach solution and then use a fungicide - but sometimes it
is not easy and actually requires that containment fields be set up and the
I believe that you can purchase dehumidifiers to help reduce the level
of moisture. You also need to determine the cause of this high humidity.
If you rent, this is something your landlord should take care of. If you
own, you will have to spend some money to properly deal with it. Otherwise
it will continue to return and pose health risks. Simply washing off the
wall is usually not adequate. Good luck.
Regarding the mold problem; you need to figure out the source of the
moisture and stop it, or you will have a continual problem. Possibly a
leaky roof that you were unaware of? This should be the landlords
responsibility. While I could give you some advice (I used to do a lot of
INdoor Air Quality work), I would suggest you get in touch with Barbara
Sparks of the EPA (the SF regional office). She is the mold queen there,
and VERY much on a crusade to bring this issue to the people's attention.
I don't have a number sorry...but you should be able to find it fairly
easily. The EPA also has an IAQ web page which has all their publications
posted. They have a lot of info for homeowners. (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/).
For several winters I was disgusted by the amount of mildew and mold that
accumulated in my houses and apartments. I've found 3 inch high mold
growing on leather sandals, and one year my futon mildewed and caused a
severe allergic skin reaction! Anyway, here's some things that we've tried
during the last two winters. We are having some success.
First, we bought "dehumidifying crystals," which you can find at most
hardware stores. They are sold in plastic tubs and look like little
pebbles of chalk. We fill the bottom of empty yogurt tubs with the
crystals and place them in closets. Eventually the tubs fill with water
and we empty them out and replace the crystals. We also bought a
"dehumidifying bar" at Ace Hardware. This is a heated bar that warms the
bottom of the closet to inhibit growth of mildew. I suppose you could use
something like this behind a bed as well. Finally, we open all windows
whenever there's a dry, sunny day and allow air to circulate for as long as
possible. We try to always open the bathroom window whenever we shower.
Since our baby was born, we've been running the heater at night, and this
has seemed to help as well.
We had a mold problem in San Francisco and I tried using one of those
products that is like mothballs but takes moisture out of the air. It came
in a can and was white granules. It made us really sick so I don't
Please be careful of dehumidifying crystals. I believe
they are toxic. Ingestion by an exploring child could be fatal.
An electric dehumidifier seems like it would be less of a hazard.
Two sources of moisture are bathing and cooking. While taking a bath, do you close the
bathroom door to keep the moisture only in the bathroom? After a bath or shower, open
the bathroom window and close the bathroom door until the moist air has been replaced
by drier air. After a shower, wipe the walls with a squeegee.
While cooking, put lids on pots and pans and/or open the kitchen window to allow the
moist air to be carried outside.
Whenever the weather is reasonable during the day, open the windows to allow some air
to circulate around the rooms.
I have strong alergies to mold, which have plaqued me my whole life. I
also used to live in a place where everything molded (including my beloved
book collection- I am still just sick about it). Since you said apartment,
I assume you don't own the place and would not be willing to spend the bucks
required to fix this problem. Your landlord may not either. Most often,
these problems are caused by water getting into the house from outside- not
because you are not opening the window when you take a shower. I finially
realized my apartment was hopeless when I removed a nail from the wall and
noticed that the part stuck in the wall had rusted. I moved. Most of my
shoes, books, any organic possesions where either actually moldy or smelled
real bad. I had to throw out a lot of things. You can take measures to
keep you apartment dry on the inside, and keep the air circulation, but I
am very serious when I suggest that you move. It could prevent mold
allergies in your child, and save you money in the long run.
We had serious mildew problems in our house, which we were able to reduce
a great deal by reducing moisture. This meant adding an exhaust fan in
the shower (which made a big difference!), improving drainage around the
house (still in progress), and other changes.
If you live in an apartment, you may not want or be able to add fans, etc.
Maybe your landlord can be persuaded to make the necessary improvements --
as it is, s/he may be risking dry rot problems in addition to renting
moldy housing. You can also buy a dehumidifyer from someplace like Sears.
These use a lot of electricity, much like an air conditioner, which
ultimately ends up as heat. It's like having an electric heater that also
removes several gallons of water from the air each day.
Finally, a friend who lived in a moldy apartment that got bad enough to
make her sick eventually discovered that water from the roof was leaking
down through the walls. She was forced to move and is suing the landlord.
If your apartmnt building has a serious structural problem, you might
consider moving now rather than later.
Recommendation for moldy apartment: If your child has asthma, her
lungs sound congested, you should consider moving as soon as
possible. My friend just bought a new house that was built on slab and
discovered black mold first under the kitchen sink then all over the
house upon being tested by an environmental lab service. They finally
tested their blood at the doctor's and discovered they had very high
levels of antibodies to the toxic mold, I forgot the name. They are
trying to get the builders to take the house back. Toxic mold has been
known to cause allergic symtoms, make people sick and feel tired,
etc...I'm planning to do a search on physicians on line myself to find
out if this is the same common balck mold sometimes growing in the
edges of my shower
We have a really bad water condensation problem too (it's also
contributing to our mold problem but that's another story...) I
purchased some chamois towels in the auto parts section of the big
Longs Drugs at 51st & Broadway in Oakland and use them each morning to
dry off the windows. It doesn't solve the problem long term but seems
to be really helping keep everything less wet.
We are having a mold and mildew problem in our rental house and are
wondering if anyone has any advice on cleaning and prevention. The
house is on a hill, so lots of water runs down toward it. We have
mildew on the interior walls where ever there is a piece of furniture
against the wall. I have moved the furniture and cleaned the walls,
but it comes back. We also get mildew on the window sills. I am
considering cleaning with a fairly strong bleach solution to kill the
stuff. Also, items left at the back of the closet for winter (sandals,
sunhats and such) got moldly. I cleaned the mold off but they still
really stink--any advice on removing the smell--these sandals aren't
cheap. The landlady is considering some long term solutions--but I
need to deal with the cleaning now.
We have a similar recurring mildew problem in the house we rent. Our
best success in one room has been to a) wash walls,ceiling, and
woodwork with a solution of household bleach, ordinary powered laundry
soap, and water (these are the chemical components of many commercial
mildew cleaners); b)prime everything with Zinsser 1-2-3 latex
primer/stain blocker and c) place plastic on the ground (dirt) under
the house under that room. That combination has worked for about six
months while mildew has recurred in other rooms that only got the
solution wash. We are not willing to wash/prime/repaint the whole
house without being compensated by our landlord.
I work in the remodeling field and should mention a couple of other
longer-term solutions. First if the house does not have a finished
basement and sits over dirt the dirt should be covered with heavy
plastic. Second, mildew grows best in dark locations where moisture
exists, and often in a house that is places where condensation occurs
such as windows/sills and exterior walls. Condensation occurs when
warm moist interior air contacts a cold surface such as windows, walls
or the space between walls. When remodeling I encourage homeowners to
install dual glazed windows if they are not present and add insulation
which helps both reduce condensation and fuel bills. The other
obvious items are checking the roof, gutters, or other places water
may be penetrating the building. Good luck.
this page was last updated: Oct 7, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network