1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Moldy Moulding

Oh boy, we have a mold problem. I noticed it yesterday afternoon - an unbearably hot day in a week of unbearably hot days - when condensation on the transom window over our bedroom door caught my eye. I went over for a closer look and noticed black spots of mold all over the white-painted wood around and above the window. My eyes traveled higher - oh no, the mold continued up the wall, onto the ceiling. I whirled and saw that it continued - to a lesser degree - on the wood panel thingy over the French doors and even on the beadboard underside of the upper stairs.

I ran up to the attic - ok, trudged once I met a near-solid wall of hot air - to check for leaks but saw nothing. I broke out in a sweat within seconds of entering the attic, so I skedaddled out of there quickly.

Here's the room in question, though this picture was taken last summer when there appeared to be no mold issues:

Darwin was on his way home when I noticed the mold, and I pointed it out to him when he got there. He noticed that the heat from the attic stairs or just from heat rising, whatever, began exactly where the mold began around the top third of the room. I could reach my arm over my head and feel the strata of heat above. It doesn't help that there's no A/C vent in this particular segment of the hall (the middle section), so it's slightly hotter than the other places in the house.

The trouble is, short of cleaning off the mold over and over, I'm not sure what to do to stop this from happening. The hardware is missing to work the transom window, so I wonder if it would help the condensation if we bought some new hardware from Van Dyke's and kept the transom open (we keep the doors to the bedroom closed to prevent cat hair from accumulating all over our bed). Maybe that would help the cool air circulate better?

I've also considered painting the whole area with that mold- and moisture-resistant paint they sell for bathrooms. And there's an attic fan we tried out last year, but the motor started smoking. Would an attic fan - with a new motor - help?

Oh dear, what do we do?

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halloweenlover said...

Ah nuts, that stinks. I just noticed that we have mold in the basement too. The previous owners claim they have never run a dehumifier, but maybe this year is the most humid ever because the basement is disgusting.

We painted our dining room and kitchen and bathrooms with California Paints mold and mildew paint. It has antibacterial beads in it, or something like that, and it seems to have helped. We used to have mold in the bathrooms and haven't had it since. You could try that. We also have started running out whole house fan and that seems to suck the hot air out of the basement and lessen the mold. Could you try cleaning it once with mild bleach solution and then see if it comes back? Maybe it is a fluke?

Good luck!

9:22 AM  
Jenne said...

Hey Kristin,
What if you scrub the walls with TSP, then paint over it with some Killz?
Or maybe Darwin can install a vapor barrier? I see all these new houses being built with that plastic Ty-vek wrapped on the outside before they install the siding. Have you gone outside to see if in this area there's any openings in your siding that could just be caulked shut?
I have no clue otherwise. Sorry!

12:43 PM  
Gary said...

Condensation occurs when warm damp air hits a colder surface. The moisture in the air forms on the cold surface and will give rise to such things a mildew. Warm air fom your attic is hitting the cold wall of your closed off bedroom. Spray the "mold" with diluted chlorine bleach, that will kill it and bleach it. If you don't want to do that then you could try vineger to wash it down with.Then try putting a fan in the hall to create some air-flow. You could always install a ceiling fan and set it in reverse so that it draws air up at the center and throws it against the walls. This would work in winter too because it will draw up warm air to the upper level.

2:39 PM  
Chris said...

We had a mold problem when we moved into our house. I scrubbed it all off with a diluted bleach mixture and now we run a dehumidifier almost year round. It hasn't come back.

3:27 PM  
Jocelyn said...

The upstairs bathroom in our rental unit has had a few bouts with mold on the ceiling. I believe often mold is a ventilation issue and that getting more air circulation (however you decide to do it) will help. I think all the suggestions were good too. And that room/foyer is smashing!

7:59 PM  
Trissa said...

That is a gorgeous room! Sounds like air circulation and a bit of elbow grease should do the trick. Good luck!

9:07 AM  

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