The Craigslist House
  Description of the Property
  Tree Removal Services
  Pests and Pest Removal Services
  Mold and Moisture Problems
  French Drains
  Sealing the Stucco
  Legalizing Second Unit
  Engineers, Architects and the Like
  Parking/Retaining Wall Project
  Foundation Types
  Foundation Contractors
  Helical Screw Contractors
  Dirt, Debris and Demo
  Rain, Rain, Rain
  Fire Sprinkler Vendors
  Framing Contractors

Replacing the Decks

  Mold and Moisture Problems  

Our remodel was driven by the foundation upgrade, which was driven by mold problems. 

Actually, I'm going to say, "moisture problems." "Mold" conjures up images of walls covered in black, and we didn't have that. What we had was a nice earthy smell. I say "nice," but my wife didn't use that particular adjective. The smell was only really noticeable when we'd been away for a few days. Then, walking in the downstairs front door, you noticed it.

Since the downstairs living room was cut into the hillside, I could understand the earth-smell. What seemed unfair was that clothing stored in the upstairs closets also picked-up that earth-smell. Perhaps the stucco on the north wall was shot; perhaps mold remained from earlier roof leaks...

During the heavy rains of Dec '05 thru Feb '06, we actually had water coming into the downstairs living room, from the hillside. Not a droplet or two, but a small steady stream. It was time to do something.

I hired a mold inspection firm, Blount Inspection Services & Environmental Testing (415-939-9901), to take a look. I like this firm since they don't bid for repair work that they might propose - seems like a good chance I'll get an honest opinion. The inspector used a moisture tester, indicated that there weren't problems in some areas that I thought there were problems, and spotted problems where I hadn't considered them to be. He suggested that I start my moisture defense with an elastomeric coating on the north wall's stucco. And he advised that downstairs' moisture would be very hard to control without a complete set of french drains.

Other information from Ben Blount:

-Once a surface gets moist again, mold will reappear. Splashing bleach on it, or ammonia, or soap or whatever doesn't kill the mold that's beneath the surface.

During the wet winter of 2005-06, water came in where the downstairs floor touched the hillside. The solution was beach towels coupled with the dryer's spin cycle.

Eventually I placed sump pumps in holes dug in the crawlspace, just behind the living room's sheetrock. This stopped the floor-flooding, but it wasn't the perfect long-term solution.
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Last Updated Feb 2014.