Mold, Mildew

Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Henri

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Mold builds in an off-grid house

Q.  I own a house which is not served by power line electricity and has been vacant for some years. When I visit once monthly to check it, I turn on the gasoline  generator to run dehumidifiers to curtail the basement moisture build up. The generator will run until it is out of gas.

The extreme moisture has affected the house adversely. The doors are untreated wood, which have become hosts to an unsightly orange mold covering all surfaces. I could haul water to the house to wash the doors with a half and half vinegar solution, if you advise it.  What do you recommend to clean mold on the bare wood, which is old and stripped of all old finishes? Would you use the same treatment for painted wood?

I used Lysol or Clorox Wipes to wipe the grey mildew from the painted window and door frames, wiping them dry with paper towels. I do not want to add any moisture to the environment. I used Liquid Gold on some stained, not painted, closet doors. The windows are now slightly cracked to allow cooler air to circulate. Do you know of any kind of battery-operated fan that would be safe to use for several weeks between visits? I do have access to propane, if that has more possibility.

A.    Molds have gotten very aggressive in the last few decades. They affect the health of many people and, even if you are not allergic to them to the extent that you become ill, there is still long-term risk to your health.

You can try to remove as much of the mold as possible by wiping the affected areas with a solution of equal parts fresh Clorox bleach and water without rinsing.

But be aware that many mold varieties cannot be completely removed from porous materials like wood or gypsum board, and these materials may have to be replaced or treated more rigorously. I once did a forensic inspection of a house that had some very serious mold problems, and it had to be torn down.

It sounds to me, if the infestation is serious, that you might be wise to have an environmental engineer check your house out and recommend the best treatment.

Heat may be the solution in winter, but of course you’ll need an appliance that does not require electricity to function. Off-the-grid houses generally need to be lived in regularly.

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