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HANDYMAN ON CALL

Tackling the mold problem

By Peter Hotton
Globe Staff / December 8, 2011
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Q. My son built my house in Norton. Now, mold has grown indoors and outdoors. It is quite extensive. I am looking at a remedial company called Environtech. Is that company any good?

PETER, from Norton

A. Good question. Since I am not in the company-evaluating business, I don’t know. But the name has been around for quite some time. Check your Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed on that company. Better yet, go online and check out Angie’s List, which includes ratings of various companies from clients who’ve done business with them.

Any firm that does remedial work should explain why you are getting a lot of mold, especially indoors. Outdoors, it is possible that you have trees around the property, providing shade to the house. That is good to keep the sun off the house, but it is not good because extra shade provides a damp environment that encourages growth of mold. There is not much you can do about the outdoor mold; cutting down trees is not a good idea.

Indoors is another matter. Your son did a super job on the house, it seems, and in so doing made it too tight, losing very little heat. That is good for your budget, but not for mold. With such a tight house, water vapor builds up until it saturates the air and cannot escape, so it condenses on a cool surface. This condensation makes the wall damp, not often felt by a hand. Then mold spores wafting around the house land on this moist surface, and wham! . . . mold grows.

The cure: Reduce water vapor in the house. In winter, open windows for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in late afternoon. This will be enough to release water vapor. In summer, do the same, or ventilate as practical. Or use the air conditioner as a dehumidifier. And keep a sharp eye for mold on walls behind big sofas, tall bedsteads, and bureaus. These furnishings trap moisture behind them, causing mold to grow. Set them 6 inches from the wall, which will allow air circulation in those places.

Try treating the mold with Shoo Mold or Moldex, two products that claim to kill mold and keep it away. If they don’t work, my favorite formula, 1 part bleach and 3 parts water, will.

Q. My daughter has two aluminum storm doors, front and back, that use a plastic strip about 1/2 to 3/8 of an inch wide and as tall, that slips between the glass and frame to hold the glass tightly in place. Both are broken, and the glass is loose. The storms are very old, so spare parts may not be available. Should I get a new door?

CURIOUS

A. For the want of a nail, a horse was lost. You know that story, but it’s different for you. Do not buy new doors. Go to any door dealer to see if he might have a similar piece. If there are no replacements for those sticks, go to an aluminum window factory and have them fabricate aluminum strips of similar size. Even a small clip or two can work.

Q. I am having a very hard time moving my old patio slider. I think the rollers on the bottom are shot. But how can I get to them to see if they can be replaced?

DAN SMITH, Foxborough

A. I too think the rollers have turned square, but you can lift the movable panel off its tracks. You’ll need a husky friend to help you; those panels are very heavy. Once the door is off, you can take the rollers out and take them to a store that sells patio sliders and, it is fervently hoped, get new rollers.

About that Greased Lightning

When a caller told me she used Greased Lightning to remove an oil stain on her driveway, I naturally ran the item in one of my columns. Not so fast, wrote Rob Desrosiers of Belmont. Greased Lightning sounded pretty good, but I called the company, which said not to use it on asphalt; the stuff could turn asphalt into mush. Good point, I said, but they should have put that on the label.

So, be careful when using any solvent on asphalt.

Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.

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