Mildew within the attic proves troublesome
Q. I need a lot of help. I’ve always read your column, but now it’s my turn to seek help from someone I can absolutely trust.
I had an attic fan replaced a few weeks ago, and while the plumber was working I climbed the ladder to check the attic and saw lots of black stains on the roof cladding and around the nails. also on both sides of the attic wall.
I had a mold person come out and make me an offer. My question is what is the right process and how can I find someone I can trust. I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago: Hoffman Estates.
Sorry, I don’t have any photos to share with you. My house is 30 years old. The guy said there was a hole in the plywood on one side and that was causing moisture, but that was always there all these years (I’m the original owner). Please help. By email
A. If you used the roof fan to ventilate the roof in the winter, it may have contributed to the moisture condition that is responsible for the mold. Very rarely, if ever, is there enough Mesh Free Ventilation Area (NFVA) in attic vents to meet the CFM requirements of attic fans. Therefore, the fans rob the air-conditioned rooms through many cracks and crevices in most structures with warm, moist air. This moisture condenses on the cold roof cladding and the gable walls.
If you have used the fan exclusively to cool the attic in the summer and do not properly seal and insulate the access to the attic, the same warm, humid air is drawn into the attic using the so-called stacking effect.
There may also be other convective routes from living spaces to the attic, such as recessed ceiling lights, bathroom and kitchen fans, etc.
There is usually no need to go through an expensive renovation to remove mold. Closing all convection paths, not using the roof fan in winter (or rather removing it) and natural ventilation through continuous soffit and ridge ventilation should dry out all living organisms in the moldy areas. The black spots may remain or peel off as they dry out, but they have become inactive when the relative humidity (RH) in the attic drops and the moisture content of the frame members and casing dries out.
The ridge vent needs to be confused from the outside to direct the wind over the top and prevent rain and snow from entering. A very popular one is Shinglevent II; There are others, but this has been my favorite for decades.
Reveal openings should be continuous and not be added piece by piece along the reveals in order to ensure a so-called air wash in all rafter spaces. There must be a free flow of air between the reveals and the ridge.
You didn’t say where the plywood was missing; is it on the roof cladding or one of the gables? How big is the hole and do you know why it’s there? I suspect the hole was on a gable wall and possibly had a gable vent that was removed when a new siding was installed.
Whatever the reason for this, it’s not what is causing the excess moisture in the attic as it is covered with roofing material or siding.
QQ Our house is 100 years old and the front door is very dirty. How can this be cleaned without damaging the wood? In front of it is a storm door and a covered porch. We usually use the back door and don’t see this often, but now that we’re retired and using the porch more I see this a lot and it drives me crazy.
Thank you for your suggestions. Crazy in Vermont – via email
A. I am assuming you are referring to the greenish material I see on the door panel panels in your photos.
It looks like some sort of mold that has developed on these horizontal moldings over the years, possibly from condensation when seasonal temperatures fluctuate.
Try cleaning these surfaces with Milsek Furniture Polish & Multi-Purpose Cleaner. I have received a lot of comments from readers about its magic.
Visit Milsek’s website: www.milsek.com. Click Where To Find It and enter your zip code.
Be sure to read and follow Milsek’s instructions to use it properly. Do the entire door on both sides and consider a regular maintenance program. It can take several uses, considering the buildup that I see in a photo.
QQ We currently have an outside bump extending into our patio area. This was intended by the client as a fireplace in a suburban house. We don’t need the fireplace as we added a family room with a fireplace in 2003. It’s unsightly and uses a lot of real estate on our terrace. We got a few contractors to see it and each one has their own idea; Everyone tries to keep a drain for drainage. Removable is not a good solution as the floor joists extend through this elevation.
There is a concrete foundation around the perimeter of the bump. We want to make this area useful and more aesthetically pleasing. We originally thought of storage with seating; Now let’s think of a step shelf and a seating area, with the shelf forming a backrest. Perhaps the shelf area could be used for some storage.
It’s outside of our dining area. There is a kitchen in the south and a family room in the north. The deck ends before ejecting and extends east 12 feet and grass beyond the deck.
Can you think of some options to turn this area into a useful and visually appealing space? Many Thanks! Excited to hear your thoughts. – By email
A. Thank you for sending photos. This is an interesting bump; It’s so low and right under two windows and outside your dining area.
Since it has a concrete foundation and the floor joists extend through this bump, I am assuming it was considered part of the living space and is insulated.
Would you consider removing the pitched roof (a skilled contractor should be able to completely remove it for reuse in the proposed new build), cut open the overlying wall and rebuild the breakout walls, reuse the windows and the space to make a part of the dining area?
Or even better to make it into a conservatory? It could be made into a greenhouse with glass floors that support plants that improve air quality.
Of course, this assumes that the orientation is correct for a sun room. My confusion lies in the fact that one of your photos shows an angular shot of the right side of the bump-out and advises you that it is facing east. However, the sun’s shadow seems to indicate that the long side of the ejector is facing east, not the right side wall, which would mean that the left side of the ejector is facing south.
If this is correct, the pace of the sun would bring you morning sunlight, but it’s not too ideal for sun exposure. This may be more of a project than you would like to imagine, but this is the best I can think of.
Send questions to henri [email protected] or send your questions to Henri de Marne, c / o Dennis Redmond, Burlington Free Press, 100 Bank Street, Suite 700, Burlington, Vt. 05401. His book “About the House” is available at www.upper access.com and in bookshops.