Mold in new kitchen peninsula

gwentmJuly 15, 2010

PLEASE HELP!!! I live on the first floor of a high rise condo on the beach in Florida. We are in the midst of a complete kitchen remodel that started because we had to replace a peninsula due to a mildew smell and some mold in the drawers that we could not get rid of. The doors and drawer fronts were made of laminate on particle board and it had a Corian top. The boxes were painted wood. The cabinets below the drawers always seemed to be OK. Prior to the decision to get rid of the peninsula, we tried washing the drawers and cabinets with clorox, painting, then changing the drawer boxes out altogether. The maple boxes we replaced them with grew a fuzzy white mold inside along the rims. There is no water in the peninsula or near it but a number of years ago, my husband rigged up a dehumidifier while we were away for the season and he put it on the peninsula counter, running a hose from it to the sink across the kitchen. The hose slipped out and the water poured into the peninsula drawers. You could see where the particle board had expanded the drawer fronts and cabinet door fronts in some places. We figured that the damage from that must have been the cause because we couldn't find any other source of water so we made the decision to remove the peninsula. We put in a tile floor under the new peninsula (previously just concrete) with 6 drawers on one side and 2 double cabinets on the other. It is made of veneer over solid wood with a quartz countertop. We haven't even put our dishes or pots and pans back in the drawers because the kitchen is not completely finished. Today I opened the top 2 drawers to try to figure out what to put in them, noticed a smell in them and found some fuzzy mold in the corners. My cabinet maker came and found the outer bottom and back of the drawers were already covered in fuzzy green mold and it was starting to spread to the lower drawers and was on the back of the upper base cabinet spreading down. The top drawer farthest away from the wall was by far the worst. This is 1000% more extensive than ever before in the old peninsula. The drawers are empty and have only been in place since June! There is no problem in any of the other new kitchen cabinets and drawers, including the 2 cabinets on the back side of the same peninsula and the other cabinets and drawers that abut the same wall. We have air conditioning and do not leave windows or doors open. Any ideas on what has happened and what to do?

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Try leaving open windows and doors to get some fresh air. I think stale air may be the problem...For example, is it typical of you to ramble incoherently without pause?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 4:56PM
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What a shame that some people can't help being rude when they post comments. Perhaps it's because they lack the vocabulary to express themselves in an insightful manner.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 7:24PM
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Luckily most on these forums try to help each other. We think the problem may be caused by an unairconditioned condo storage room on the other side of our wall. The interior of the wall is concrete and water vapor may be coming through,

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 10:19PM
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Get in touch with the condo association. At this point (having spent all that $$) you need to get them involved because it may well be the bldg' "fault" and you could possibly be compensated. Plus the bldg people need to be aware of that kind of problem if only so they can fix it!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 12:13PM
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larke, For SURE!!! We are insured for mold but coverage applies only if the mold is caused by a water event. This "invisible water vapor" is not considered water. The manager of the condo brought in a mold remediation specialist and was with us when we took the humidiy samples (73%) in the guard's closet and (55%) in our apartment. He has already purchased a dehumidifier for that closet and had the air conditioning contractors in for a proposal on best fix. The mold we can see has already been professionally removed by the mold remediation specialist and he will bill the condo directly for his fee.

Since we can't see what is behind the cabinet, I might feel better if the whole peninsula was taken out and investigated. This will be expensive even if it turns out it is OK. Any suggestions?

Also wondering what the best fix might be to make sure it doesn't happen again. Moisure barrier? What type/how? Condo's side AND mine or just one? Other solution? My contractor suggested putting foam around electical and cable outlets in that wall for insulation in addition to whatever else is done.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 5:31PM
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If water vapor comes through from outside your condo, what would keep smoke/fire from also getting through? What is the fire code for multiple housing units such as yours in your area? I would definitely be concerned about any cross contamination of any kind coming from another unit or storage area. I would at least check with the fire marshall before this putting this problem to bed.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:39PM
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pris, Really good point. We are on the first floor so our west apartment wall is adjacent to a number of common areas.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:04PM
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I think infrared cameras can see moisture or rather a temperature difference due to accumulating water, so CAN see what is behind the walls.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 11:38AM
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nycefarm, The mold specialist did come in with an infrared camera that could differentiate between water and heat, in this case heated water vapor. We did not see water but we saw hot spots down the wall by the peninsula and around every receptacle. Early in our renovation, the building inspector came in and required an electrical receptacle at the other end of the peninsula so it was added. A hole was made in wall side of the cabinet to add a conduit to get the electric to the end of the peninsula. That may have been the conduit that brought in the humidity from the guard's room on the other side of the wall. The bulk of the mold was in the top where that conduit is located. Since we had not moved into the new kitchen yet, the drawers were not opened for some time - a perfect environment - warm, moist, dark, newer wood. So at this point, we are assuming this was the cause.

What we need to do now is figure out how to eliminate the problem. The condo is planning on putting in an air conditioner in the guard's room and has already installed a dehumidifier. They will also treat the wall on their side, including a vapor barrier. My contractor plans on putting foam and sealing as best as possible in the receptacles on my side. The cabinet maker has made sure that it is all lacquered inside and remade the worst of the drawers. The remainder of the cabinet has been remediated by the specialist. Is there anything else we need to do?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 12:13AM
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Is this the reno you did after having mold on the original peninsula? What caused the mold originally? Was there some penetration into the wall from that one too?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 2:29PM
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"What a shame that some people can't help being rude when they post comments. Perhaps it's because they lack the vocabulary to express themselves in an insightful manner."

Or perhaps we do not like reading poorly structured rambling prose.

I saw the OP and did not want to even wade through it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 4:22PM
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pris, Yes the same except it did not have electric in it. But no one ever tested with infrared and identified the hot humid guard's closet as a possible cause. So we are thinking both mold problems have the same cause.

After 6 years of trying we were never able to definitively find the cause of the mildew smell and mold. The old peninsula only developed mold on the drawers when we replaced the painted drawer boxes with new lacquered wood boxes to get rid of the mildew smell (yes another attempt). A mold specialist tested the wall and mold and we made many other attempts along with our building management to find it, including cutting holes in numerous places. No one could find anything significant, only that there had been some water damage to it about 6 years ago. In the end all assumed it was stuck in the particle board of the doors and facing and we decided to replace it. After the demo we thought we had licked the problem.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 9:07PM
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The following has taken place:
Mold remediation/ removal
Drawers effected have been removed and remade
All surfaces in interior of peninsula have been lacquered
Dehumidifier is in place in guard's closet - now 50% humidity instead of 73%

To be completed:
Condo still needs to insulate and put moisture barrier on the guard's side of the closet.
My contractor plans on spraying insulation into all gaps breaking existing vapor barrier on my side of the wall.

Since the humidity is down in the guard's closet, should I put back the drawers in the cabinet or do I need to wait until all the work is done?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 7:25PM
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