Mold, mildew, and peeling paint are bad signs. Here are 5 preventative steps to take before mold, mildew, and peeling paint ruins your bathroom.
In the classic motion picture The Wizard Of Oz, Dorothy and her companions, when traveling through the forest, were filled with fear at the prospect of being greeted by lions and tigers and bears – oh my!
You don’t have to venture out into the forest in fear of unwelcome predators. All you need to do is dare to enter a bathroom in your home that is suffering from mold, mildew and/or peeling paint – oh my!
Beyond being unsightly, left untreated, such a condition can lead to bigger and more expensive problems down the road such as rotting wallboard and framing that may necessitate the removal of walls, flooring and other finishes. Ka-ching!
What’s causing the problem?
For starters, it doesn’t help that your teenagers lock themselves in the bathroom for a half-hour or longer draining your water heater of every ounce of hot water in the quest to clean their bodies. Perhaps, the fact that the door is almost always closed and the exhaust fan is either not turned on or, worse yet, has been unplugged because it drowns out the noise of the rapper-du- jour could compound the situation. Window? What window? Ne’er they crack a window on a cold day for fear that it will counteract the warmth produced by the seemingly endless flow of hot water. Sound familiar?
Mold, mildew and peeling paint are signs that there simply is not enough ventilation in the space to handle the abundance of moisture (humidity) produced by showering, bathing, shaving and other moisture-producing activities. Although cracking a window may offer temporary relief, not all bathrooms contain a window and the passive ventilation is typically not enough to handle the excessive moisture. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take that will solve the problem once and for all.
Mold and Mildew Prevention
- First, sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion with your teenagers about how much water, energy and money that is going down the drain by taking long, hot showers and see if you can’t appeal to their “environmental” side in the hopes that they will want to help save the earth. They don’t need to know that your primary motivation is to help save your home and pocketbook.
- Next, if you don’t have an exhaust fan in your bathroom, install one. If you do, make sure that it is clean and operating properly. Over time, the motor and fan blades can become laden with dust, rust and grime and prevent them from doing their job. Remove the decorative grill, soak it in warm soap water; unplug the fan and give it a good vacuuming with an upholstery brush.
- Chance are good that that the fan is undersized. For the average bathroom with an 8 foot ceiling the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating should be at least ten percent greater than the area of the room. So, if your bathroom is 6’ by 8’ or 48 square feet, the fan should have a rating of not less than about 53 cfm. That’s 6 x 8 x 1.1. Experience has taught us that you should bump that up by about another 10 to 20 percent for better ventilation.
- Having a good fan is only part of the puzzle. The fan must be properly ducted to the exterior of your home – not into the attic, which will result in excess moisture and rot. Also, if the fan and light for the space are operated by separate switches we recommend tying them together so that the fan must operate when the light switch is turned on. Consider opting for one of the newer ultra quiet, low sone models that produce little or no noise. This will make your teenagers less likely to pull the plug.
- Finally, a timer is a must. Look for an electronic or digital model. We tell our kids to switch it on to the one hour mode. Therefore, if they take a shower that lasts about a half hour – and they usually do – the fan will not only combat the moisture produced during the shower, it will continue to remove the residual moisture for an additional thirty minutes, which should do an adequate job of lowering the humidity.
Now that you have the moisture problem solved, clean the mildew. Once the mildew has been removed, scrape and sand peeling paint; fill in voids with a drywall joint compound or spackling paste; lightly sand the patches and prime and paint with a high-quality oil or latex semi-gloss enamel for superior moisture resistance and easy cleaning.
With the walls and ceiling looking good, you can move on to dealing with the hair-ridden slow drain and the grungy tub or shower pan. Ah, teenagers…