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Thread: Crawlspace mold—drain problem?? (HELP!)

  1. #1

    Default Crawlspace mold—drain problem?? (HELP!)

    I moved into a 1950s house over 2 years ago. All the plumbing is lined up against the back of the house—kitchen, bathroom #1, and bathroom #2 (which contains a stacked laundry center), which pipe down into the crawlspace, where the water heater is located.

    A few months after I moved in, a handyman discovered huge white “blooms” of mold in the “ceiling” of the crawlspace, directly under the laundry center (in bath #2). The laundry center is in a converted linen closet, and shares one of its wall with the bathtub wall that contains the faucent and showerhead. The floor under the laundry closet was found to be rotted out, presumably due to a leak at the back of the old washer, so I had the closet’s floor as well as the laundry unit replaced. (There was, I was told at the time, a remote chance that there could have been a leak in the wall with the bathtub faucets, but I would have had to tear through the wall to find out, and it didn’t seem likely since the washer had obvious problems that could account for everything.)

    Now 2 years later, this weekend I discovered that the crawlspace wood is getting moldy and rotting under the shower stall of bathroom #1!! This bath has no bathtub, just an old tiled shower stall and is by far the most used bathroom. I also notice that wispy white mold and mildew have again appeared under bathroom #2—even though that tub is used less often.

    I find it hard to believe that there could be TWO leaks several feet away from each other on completely different walls…and I am desperate to make this solvable, because I cannot afford to tear out and remodel these bathrooms. So I am wondering…the mold seems to be issuing from near the drains for both the tub (bath #2) and the shower stall (bath #1). Is there any chance that the drains that were initially put in over 50 years ago were not big enough or were sealed incorrectly?

    …As in, could this possibly be something that is easy to fix (just the drains)? I got this house from the estate of an elderly man who had lived here nearly 30 years, so it is possible that the house went from a once-a-week bath usage to daily showers, which might account for why there wasn’t mold previously under bath #1, and possibly for why an installation issue might show up 50 years late.

    I’ll be calling plumbers to do the work, of course, but we may have to go on living here—mold, allergies, and all—for a while before I can afford this fix. And I’d be grateful for any tips you can supply that would help me “talk the talk” when I’m trying to find the right professional to handle this.

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    Connecticut
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    The recommendations of friends, neighbors, relatives, & co-workers are a good place to start. If a plumber has developed satisfied customers with the people you know it goes a long way....

    Listen to what they say...
    I know a guy but he's hard to get a hold of... Not Good!
    I used this guy but progress was very slow with lots of gaps in work... Not Good!
    We had this guy but there was a problem and we had to wait a long time for him to come back... Not good!

    We called this guy and he came the next morning to look at the job...
    He gave us and estimate and he started the work 2 days later when he said he would. We can't believe that he did the work so quickly. As soon as the tile guy was done he was back the next day to finish the work... Sounds like a Keeper!

    We had this guy put in a sink for us... There was a small leak under the sink that we found a month later... We called him and he stopped by that evening. He played around with the drain pipes under the sink and the leak is fixed... I'd say another keeper... Even though there was a problem he stands behind his work!

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
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    21,412

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    It's very possible one or both of these are true: the shower was never built right in the first place, or it has failed. 30-years is possible from a shower, even more, if built well. Many are not. My guess is that the shower pan has failed. Not much you can do except tear it out and rebuild it.

    Does the bathtub have a shower also? Might be best to start using it. Course, many shower walls aren't built well to handle showers, either. A full wrap shower curtain like you might see over a claw foot tub should protect the walls, if it wasn't designed for it, and a hand shower attachment should get you buy until you can afford to tear the shower out and rebuild it. Unless you go overboard with fancy tile, it isn't really very much money in materials to build a shower if you do the labor yourself. If you are even moderately handy, it's easier than you think if you've got a good resource for help.

    For great help on showers, tiling, and related info, check out www.jonhnbridge.com Tile Your World website.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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