Archive for the ‘mold’ category

Discoloration on Wood Windows

March 6th, 2013

QUESTION

We have a black discoloration occurring on the wood windows in our house; I was wondering if you knew what it was, and how to get rid of it. The windows are double-hung, and the house was built in 1995. I assumed it was mold and moisture-related, because I noticed it in the bathroom. But, I have since found it in small patches on other windows, both upstairs and downstairs. I have tried many cleaning solutions, including TSP and a bleach/water mix, but none seem to work. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

BURNS

ANSWER

If the stains are a dark discoloration that cannot be removed from the surface, you have water damage in the wood of the window. If the TSP removes the stain, it may be dirt or mold. Once the surface finish is damaged by water, the water will discolor the wood. So, if the finish is gone and you have a dark stain, you have water damaged wood.The fix is to refinish the wood by sanding, bleaching, and more sanding. Then, stain and varnish to back to the original finish. Not an easy job.

MR. FIX-IT

Black Discoloration on Wood Windows

July 13th, 2010

QUESTION:

We have a black discoloration occurring on the wood part of the windows in our house. Do you know what it is and how to get rid of it? The windows are double-hung and the house was built in 1995. I assumed it was mold and moisture-related because I noticed it first in the bathroom, but now I have found it in small patches on other windows. I have tried many cleaning solutions including TSP and a bleach-water mix, but none seem to work. It occurs both in winter and summer, with windows open or closed.

ANSWER:

If the stains are a dark discoloration that cannot be removed from the surface, you have water damage in the wood. If the TSP removes the stain it may be dirt or mold. Once the surface finish is damaged by water, the water will discolor the wood. If the finish is gone and you have a dark stain, you have water-damaged wood.

The fix is to refinish the wood by sanding, bleaching, and more sanding. Then stain and varnish back to the original finish. It’s not an easy job. Don’t get too worried about the “mold” word. Issues related to mold have been greatly exaggerated by many folks in recent years. Go to the State of Wisconsin or university websites for accurate information about mold in a home – not testers or contractors who make money on mold.

Light Blue Stains in the Toilet

June 16th, 2010

QUESTION:

We have a 7-year-old toilet that has begun showing a light blue color. When I try to scrub the blue stain with a toilet brush it doesn’t come off. We’ve never used those blue tank canisters; we just use liquid bowl cleaner. Do you know why the toilet bowl is stained light blue? I checked the water (in the bowl and the tank) and it is not blue.

I also noticed a lot of black mold inside the toilet tank when I took the lid off. Is it a good idea to use bleach to clean the mold off the inside of the tank and underneath the lid? There is a rubber-type 5-inch ball in the tank. Can I use bleach to clean that rubber since it too has mold on it?

ANSWER:

The light blue stain is a strange one. Do you have a private well? If the water is slightly corrosive, I suppose you could get a blue stain from copper or brass in touch with the water. Perhaps it is from a cleaning chemical? I would try to clean the bowl with an acid-based cleaner. Look for the acid cleaner in a plumbing supply or hardware store.

You certainly can clean the toilet tank with any chemicals you wish. Most toilet tanks will have deposits. If you do use bleach, don’t let it sit on the rubber parts because it can damage the rubber. You can remove mold with just detergent and water.

Mildew on Gutters, Siding

March 1st, 2010

I have mildew growing on the gutters and vinyl siding on the side of the house that doesn’t get much sun. I noticed on your website that you suggested the use of Jomax, bleach and water. Is this recommended for gutters?

Answer:

Mildew or mold will always grow on exterior surfaces that don’t see much sun – at least in our Wisconsin climate. I would definitely wash with a Jomax solution, bleach and water. Follow the label instructions. Often you can just spray the solution on the stains with a garden sprayer and then rinse them off. This is an inexpensive cleaning solution that “activates” the laundry bleach.

I’m not sure how the Jomax chemical works, but I know that it works great on vinyl, aluminum siding, and aluminum gutters. It also works on any hard surface with mold or mildew. I found that it does not harm plant materials, but I would wet them down before and rinse them after you use Jomax.

Removing Mildew from a Cedar Deck

January 19th, 2010

How do you remove mildew from new cedar deck boards? Some of them were just installed. I can’t believe mildew would appear that fast! I would like to seal the deck, however I can’t do it until the mildew is removed. Thanks.

Mike

Answer:

You can remove mildew from a wooden deck with any deck cleaner. You can also use a product called JOMAX – it’s a great cleaner that you mix with water and laundry bleach. Spray it on, let it soak for 15 min, then hose it off. Scrub if any residue remains.

The mildew was probably on the lumber when it was installed, and was activated by the exterior moisture. Cleaning will help remove the dirt that the mildew loves to grow on. You do need to seal the deck soon, as it is dry in the spring.

Insulating a Poured Wall Basement

January 13th, 2010

Question:

We are in the process of finishing off our poured wall basement. It will be 2×4 construction and is about 80% below grade. I plan to use R-13 unfaced fiberglass insulation. Is this the best choice to insulate and prevent moisture/mold issues?  My thought was that it will allow the walls to breath. Our home is about 6 years old.

Kevin

Answer:

When finishing a basement, you should check with the local building inspection department to understand what they require. In the state of WI, no vapor barrier is to be used when finishing a basement. This confirms your idea – if water ever enters the wall, it can evaporate to the heated space.

The best option is to set the studs an inch or so away from the wall, complete the wiring, then have a contractor spray foam insulation from the floor slab up to the sub-floor of the first floor. This seals any air gaps while providing excellent insulation and water resistance.

Tom

Removing Mold in the Bathroom

December 22nd, 2009

Question:

We are a family of six living in a 1,100 square foot single-story home. Our one full bathroom has mold growing on the ceiling. We have used TSP to clean it, and Kilz to paint it. We’ve also installed a new bathroom fan, but the mold keeps coming back. Do you have any other suggestions? Do we need to get a more heavy-duty fan? Do we need to replace the drywall ceiling and start over? By the way, the roof was redone last summer, but the mold problem hasn’t gone away. Do we just keep scrubbing away? Help!

-Carol

Answer:

You need to try to reduce the moisture level in the bathroom, and that will be tough with a family of six. I would try these steps:

  1. Run the bath exhaust fan 24/7, or until the bathroom is completely dry. If the fan will not remove the moisture and dry the walls, install a better fan and make sure it has a large, straight exhaust duct that carries the moisture to the outside. Broan is a great resource for bath fans and installation information.
  2. Dry the walls (where the mold is growing) with a towel, and remove the towel from the bathroom.
  3. Clean up the mold with laundry bleach and water. Then, paint the walls with Zinsser Brand Bathroom Wall and Ceiling Paint. This paint will not cause mildew. Follow the label directions.

-Tom