Friday, August 5, 2011

One Milestone Reached

Well, we're done working on the basement for a while.  The water is pumped out, a new sump pump is installed and working.  The junk left in the basement is hauled out to the dump, and the drywall and paneling on the living room side are removed, down to the block walls.  And now I have finished the mold cleanup.  This was a big issue; after three years of water in the basement, there was mold on a lot of the floor joists and some of the subfloor for the floor above.

Searching the Internet, I found this site--  I had seen a reference on a mold remediation contractor's site about using a borax solution.  But Mold Control on a Budget actually gives the formula, and how to follow up.  The site owner is not a contractor, but an inspector specializing in mold work.

Anyway, I vacuumed the heavy mold, mostly yellow, some cottony white stuff off with a HEPA wet/dry vac, then scrubbed with the borax solution.  In corners, around ductwork and electrical boxes and other hard-to-get-at places I sprayed the surface down with borax solution in a trigger spray bottle.

Why borax and not bleach?  The story is that bleach only works on some molds, and works best on hard, non-porous surfaces like ceramic or laminate.  The chlorine evaporates before it can soak into unfinished wood.  The borax (and for the record, this is the old 20 Mule Team powder from the laundry soap section at Wal-Mart) soaks in better, and any borax residue left will keep mold from returning.  I have used most of three boxes so far and have a little left for touchup.

There is one more mold strategy that we may consider for the long run, called "encapsulation."  This involves sealing moldy areas in a paint-like coating.  And while there are such coatings available, the "Budget" site says old-fashioned whitewash will work--the lime in whitewash is also used in some of the commercial coatings, because it kills mold.  So at some point, after the new dehumidifier has dried things out, I may be doing a Tom Sawyer job on the floor joists.

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