Blindsided By Mold: A True Story About A Bathroom Renovation Gone Bad—So Very, Very Bad

Photo by PhotoDu.de, on Flickr

“Trish, there were mold hairs on the closet wall that were as long as my finger,” she said, her face contorting in displeasure as though she were recalling a gruesome crime scene.

I tried to visualize what “Big Mold” might look like, making a mental magnification of the worst refrigerator discoveries of my life.  All I could think was I never wanted to see such a site in person – and certainly not growing on the walls of my home.

Who was this unfortunate homeowner with a fuzz factory growing inside a closet?  She prefers to remain anonymous, but for the sake of this article we’ll call her Madeline.

The “M” Word
People are funny like that when it comes to discussing mold problems in their home.  When I asked this homeowner if she would write a guest blog for Greenspiration Home she looked at me as though I had mold growing out of my own ears.

“Are you out of your mind?  I want to sell this house one day!”

You see, mold is to the home as “cancer” is to the human body.  It is something that everyone fears and many will experience, but few like to talk about.

But don’t be fooled by the lack of open conversation about the dreaded “M” word.  Off hand I can think of at least four or five homeowners I have personally known who have had catastrophic mold and moisture problems in their homes.  By “catastrophic” I mean to the tune of mushrooms popping up through the carpeting.  A few of these homeowners were construction professionals themselves and they were as blindsided as anyone else.

Madeline’s Mold Story
Madeline owns a nice suburban home with a large, luxurious master bathroom, which had been expanded and renovated 10 years prior to her unappetizing discovery.   Adjacent to this bathroom is a bedroom, once occupied by her teenage son.

One day Madeline noticed that the wood floor in her son’s bedroom had started to warp and buckle – a fact that was partially obscured by an area rug.  The warped floor prompted Madeline to push aside a chest of drawers that happen to be on the other side of the wall from the master bathroom.  The wall behind the chest was covered in mold.

The discovery got worse.  Still trying to wrap her brain around just how bad this problem was, Madeline went downstairs to a large sewing room below the bedroom.  She flung open the doors of a closet that sat directly below her son’s bedroom and began pulling back boxes of toys that were stored there for the grandchildren.

There it was – a solid wall of mold with filaments as long as a grown woman’s finger.   Boxes that probably had not been moved for years obscured the mold and the extreme dampness.

Frantically, Madeline wondered where could all this moisture be coming from?  There were no visible signs of a roof leak upstairs and the sewing room was next to the garage, so it was unlikely that this moisture could be coming from the outside.  Eventually, Madeline had to face the facts.  The water had to be coming from the shower in her beautifully renovated master bath.

Oddly, the shower itself showed no signs of trouble — that is until Madeline pressed her hand against the custom tile work inside the shower stall and felt the wall move beneath her hand….

To Be Continued…

17 Responses »

  1. Awesome!

  2. I am amazed that civilizations has managed to survive all these eons without
    OSHA, NIOSH, ASSE, ASTM, ADA, FDA , EPA, DEP and millions of law firms and public officials looking out for our health

    I cannot imagine a society actually surviving with lead, mercury, toxic plastics , sick building syndrome, legionnaires disease, scalding hot water, E Coli, black and gray molds ,asbestos , carbon monoxide and so many other dreaded things out there

    We need the code of Hammurabi enforced as these codes are still on the books.

    Any and all contractors shall be held accountable for work performed for at least 40 years .

    The Sprinkler contractor on the World trade center and the design engineers and architects need to be tried for over 3,000 counts of man slaughter as the fires at the trade centers were not contained and this is strictly human error

    In 1972 I was privy to the blue prints of the twin towers and I asked at that time why didn’t this system have better fire protection and the answer was

    “The port of authority of NJ and NY can write their own codes to be cost effective as they have sovern immunity”

    I wonder how many PEX systems that failed have amazing watch dog folks out there in cyber land to check for mold and radon and other toxins that were released by this stale water

    China will now be contacted to send highly qualified bathroom installers as it is now a proven fact Americans cannot be trusted to do a decent job.
    The Chinese unlike Americans build things to last and they put a 2,000 year full guarantee on the great wall There is nothing that the labor unions in the USA lasted over 300 years

    The great wall was tested by an independent lab and NO mold was found there either was asbestos used for fire proofing and not one single worker put in for a compensation claim.

    Productivity in China is a proven fact and this only proves that to make sure we as a nation in order to survive mold must literally move into MAN CAVES carved out by the ancient highly skilled craftswomen of Babylonia who knew to take personal responsibility when they built any structure or carved out a cave.

    The contractors who did the plumbing, tile work carpentry sheet rock need to be placed in a room and have mold spread around them with honey on their bare feet and have fire ants set upon them.

    A simple lawsuit will not do these victims justice like Ted Kennedy killing of Mary Jo was a cash settlement
    an Eye for an eye it says in the bible thus these people who are guilty shall meet their maker with a mold
    infested body and hung in a public court yard so the next contractor knows they will be held accountable
    A MEN Power to the people

    • I strongly suggest some anger management therapy. Chinese quality, really? No compensation claim?
      Who were they going to complain to? Emperor or communist chefs? Take a pill. Sincerely Darek

  3. This is very true and happens when a contractor doesn’t check the plumbing before he closes the wall up

  4. I have seen this time and time again in MANY homes.

  5. The Great Wall was built long ago. These days Chinese goods look good but don’t last long, in fact Chinese goods are mostly junk. American workmanship can be very good. But lax laws favor the well-connected. It behoves everyone that proper oversight is delivered in building projects and environmental issues.

  6. I am an Environmental Consultant and run into this problem all the time. After such a problem, you can have the air in the house/room sampled for mold after it has been clean by “Mold abatement Contractors” and with positive lab results have no problem with selling your home after the fact.

  7. Trish, in my remodeling business, I see this regularly. We recently stripped a basement down to the framing and there was a tree of mold growing on polystyrene board that had been pressed against the concrete block wall.

  8. As a project superintendant of a large townhome project. I was asked by the builder to, “look the other way.” Three units in a five unit group had a bad black mould problem. Seems the windows to the basement were opened by vandals and then they turned the sprinkler system on so it wouldn’t shut off, and the unit basement would get soaked. This was on a Friday night, so nobody noticed. Found on my rounds Monday morning. The units did get very wet, and three had mold. For days, (week plus) men sprayed the walls with Clorox. Finally got the walls so they could be painted. Painters applied paint and the units were sold. To this day I think about how dishonest the builder was, and how nobody seemed to care about the future home owners health.

  9. Excellent article… will check out each one of them and probaly feature on top soon… many thanks.

  10. Whoa, I can’t even imagine a mold the size of my fingers growing! Not only is it an eye sore; it also poses a major health risk. These not just a potential cause of respiratory ailments, but also of acid reflux and heartburn. It is still wise to check the house thoroughly before buying it.

  11. I like this concept. I visited your blog for the first time and just been your fan. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday. Thanks for sharing this blog!

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