Mold, Mildew

Published on November 20th, 2012 | by Henri


Mold surrounds washer and dryer

Q.      Five years ago I purchased a condo in a converted factory built in 1899. In the master bedroom there is a “closet” where the washer/dryer are hooked up. The plumbing and electrical connections were installed there as part of the original conversion in the 1980s. I have full-sized electric front-loading washer and dryer units stacked in that “closet”.

After five years of use, there is mold growing all over the walls and ceiling in this closet. I have a ceiling fan in the bedroom which I run with the “closet” door open when in use, but it has not helped. I have had an electrician, an HVAC specialist, a plumber and an appliance installer look at this “closet” and the only suggestion they could make was to install a 30-foot long exhaust tube and run it out to the window during use – which would be inconvenient to say the least.

The condo association is refusing to allow me to exhaust it through the exterior brick walls since the building is on the historic register – even though they have run exhausts through the brick for the furnaces which heat the units. Do I have to live with the mold? I am allergic to it and it is causing problems. My lawyer says there is not much chance of winning if I go against the condo association. Can you suggest anything to solve the problem? I may have to move but I love this condo.

A.      You should not – and must not –  have to live with mold. Considering the restrictions imposed by the condo association, I suggest that you have the washer/dryer units temporarily moved out of the infamous “closet.” Have the mold removed by washing the walls with a solution made of equal parts Clorox bleach and water. Do not rinse; let dry. Then paint with two coats of Zinsser’s Perma White – a paint guaranteed to resist mildew for five years.

Put the washer/dryer units back in and have a small fan (such as those used in computers) installed in one of the upper door frame corners of the closet; aim it to blow air toward the back of the closet behind the appliances and turn it on whenever you are using the appliances to move the moist air out of the closet. If your condo gets too humid, open a window for a few minutes in winter (I assume you have air conditioning in summer).

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