Possible mold problems??

Discussion in 'Windows and Doors' started by condoowner, May 20, 2013.

  1. May 20, 2013 #1

    condoowner

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    Hello,

    I am currently repainting my bedroom, and I was surprised to see the Zinsser Bin peeling off from the lower corner of the window frame. I applied a second coat but same thing. Grey-ish spots also appeared thru.

    I then decided to investigate further and touching the corner it felt humid. I decided to drill a small hole but past the first 32nd of an inch, it was much softer, not quite like mush but softer than the surrounding wood.

    Not long after I decided to open the corner (not sure if this was a good idea) and the wood I puled from the hole was wet!

    There is water infiltration somewhere but where??

    My uncle just went through a nightmare with mold growth in his basement, and as a result, he had half of the house stripped down and rebuilt. He had $70k of damage.

    Im extremely concerned and I know nothing about the way windows are built and installed. Can the whole wall be in need of stripping down????

    Anynbody with opinions are more than welcome to share... Im very anxious to see what people here think...
    Thanks!

    EDIT: please note that I tore apart the wood, thats why you see chips and chunks laying around like that.
    :(

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    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  2. May 21, 2013 #2

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    If this is strata titled condo the outside envelope may be a problem for the strata.
    Ater that this should be opened up for discouvery, likely you will find poor installation of the window and that takes you back to the strata.
     
  3. May 22, 2013 #3

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    Thanks nealtw for replying. You have helped so much on this forum since I registered! :)

    I've spoken to the strata, and we will call a contractor to look at the issue, possibly replacing the window and open up the wall to see if mold/mildew are growing in the wall cavity. For personal interest and education, I would like to get some kind of cross section of a typical exterior wall with a window to see how its assembled and supposed to be..

    So lets assume the sill, and window sides (whatever they are called) are in need of replacement, and also the window is in need of replacement, would the drywall and studs also need to be pulled out?

    I suspect the best course of action is to wait for the contractor to show up, strip down the sill and window and see whats inside..

    On a different (but not unrelated) note, what would window sill bulging means? Most of the sills in my place are slightly bulging up in the center, kinda like if wood was expanding but had no space to do so...
     
  4. May 22, 2013 #4

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    http://www.mtcc1170.com/images/BCRainScreen.pdf
    I think you're in Montreal, if so I beleive the above data applies to you there.
    Print it, read it , learn it and teach other people about it untel you are the expert and don't accept a contractor that doesn't know more about it that you do. In an attempt to make building tight here they sealed them up to tight and we ended up with what is known as leaky condo syndrom. Older houses leaked like anything and when water got into the walls it could escape over time. Your building may be older but the newers window were installed in that time or the building was built in that time.
    Your windows have an R value of 5 if you are lucky. The insullation they stuffed in the 1/4" beside the window really gives no R value and when moisture gets into it and condences it is wet and stays wet and that the biggest problem.
    What you will likely find the vapour bearer stopped at the surface of the wall and should have been wrapped out and behind the house wrap on the outside of the house.
    The rainscreen system just accepts the fact that water will get in around the window and needs a way out. The bottom sill ( rough open)is covered with a peel and stick product that has a name but we just call it blue skin that over laps the outside house wrap by 3 or 4 inches , a 2" strip streched into the corner on both side and down the outside at 45 degrees. And a 4" wide strip at the bottom of the sides. House wrapor tar paper is extended on both sides into the cavity and taped to the old house wrap. So any water getting in this area has a path out. Don't do the top, with a chance of a roof leak or some other problem it could bring water into the house with nowhere to go so we leave that one out. The window is installed on plastic horseshows that are 1/4" thick and 1/8 horseshoes are placed behind the nailing flange across the bottom at each nail. The flashing at the top has new instructions as to how to bend the ends to stop wind drivin rain and it wants to be behind the house wrap above. The nail flange is sealed with a blue skin on both sides, leave the bottom for drainage.
    So if I explained it right you can see the whole system is to move water out and away from the structure.

    On the inside you should end up with a 1/4" gap all aroud the window. That is closed with a 1/4 cord (round foam). Just pushed in about a 1/4 of an inch and sealed with a chaulk that is sold for that.
    The other requirment we have is the cavity below the window between the studs. If the outside is plywood or solid anyway, we have to drill a 1 1/2" hole thru the plywood once in each cavity to allow evaporation of any water that does still find it's way in there.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  5. May 22, 2013 #5

    nealtw

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    Almost forgot, expect all windows in the building to be installed the same way, so If I am right about this one??
     
  6. May 24, 2013 #6

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    Thanks nealtw for replying.

    The building here is 8 years old. Talking to the strata, they never re-caulked the windows and doors, and I was under the impression that caulk had to be replaced (or re-pointed) about every 5 to 6 years. If true, then ours is overdue. When I purchased this condo, the home inspector mentioned that caulking should be inspected periodically and replaced or re-pointed if needed but did not mention that it had to be redone right away. I just looked at it, and nowhere I can see it peeling off or cracking. Its still soft and flexible like silicon caulk.

    That being said, there is definitely a problem here with my window. The original builder is coming either tomorrow or Monday to look at the issue. In the meantime, I have removed the window trim and enlarged the gap between the window sill (wood that I punched thru) and the drywall. I can see the vapor barrier edge but nothing else.

    I really curious to see the wall's inside when the guy comes in. I certainly hope this is a new leak and that no real severe damage has happened. I put some more caulk outside where the "possible" failure of the caulk could have happened. Since sunday, the hole has been kept open and left to dry. Now its almost dry. Ive drilled a second hole about 4 inches away from the first one and it was completely dry. About 2 feet on the left of the wet spot, theres the electrical main which is enclosed in a small "closet" style enclosure which exposes the vapor barrier and the studs. All is fine there. So I imagine that if there are any damage, its confined to a 3ft portion of the wall...

    I read about this "leaky condo syndrome" on the internet. First time I heard about it. Its scary and owners are completely left on their own.

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  7. May 24, 2013 #7

    nealtw

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    The problem isn't rain getting in, it's condensation not getting out. Our code included rain screening in 2006 and I don't know when you would have had it but likely after your place was built.
    The vapour bearer is to stop warm moist air from getting to the insulation. As the window has the lowest R value, the bearer is most important in that area. As it didn't wrap to the out side, that's your source of water. So you can give him a bad time about that. If they do pull the window make sure you know what the newest code is there and insist they follow it. They can't be trusted, you can see how they installed the bearier.
     
  8. May 24, 2013 #8

    condoowner

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    I totally agree with you.

    however the big question is: who will have to pay for that ??

    If what you are saying is true , I would think this qualifies more as a defect of craftsmanship during constructions and not something that deteriorated over time like roof shingles. ..

    I can already hear them scream out loud that the home warranty is over. I dont think the waranty has anything to do with this. Because they didn't follow the code at construction time I believe they have to fix everything themselves.

    I called the quebec ministry of buildings. Like every other ministries here, they were not of any help and they redirected me to various sources. In the end this province protect dishonest people and thieves.. im worried somehow we end up spending 50k to redo all windows..
     
  9. May 24, 2013 #9

    nealtw

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    Alot of ours were covered under warrentee. The warrentee companys went broke.
     
  10. May 24, 2013 #10

    condoowner

    condoowner

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    I will wait for the buidler's contractor to open up the wall and then I'll take some pictures as evidence. If the windows were not installed properly and damage happened, most likely I will talk the strata into initiating a lawsuit against the builder for wrongdoing and failing to meet the code's requirements at the time of construction. On top of that, if there is mold or anything that can harm human health, there will be another lawsuit for this.

    I dont see any difference between this and a car manufacturer who would fail to design a braking system that would not be able to stop the car and death or mutilation would occur as a result of this..

    Only the "brake" analogy would happen much faster than home deterioration but in my opinion the essence is the same.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  11. May 24, 2013 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Hopefully this is an isolated problem and all goes well. I think a law suit would be up to strata and strata can be a whole other problem.
    Good luck.
     
  12. May 31, 2013 #12

    WindowsonWashington

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    +1 to the condensation issue.

    Are there any pictures of the exterior?
     
  13. May 31, 2013 #13

    condoowner

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    I will post back some pics of the exterior.

    in the meantime, I have spoken to the other owners and the strata, the exterior caulking hasn't been redone since construction in 2005 and apparently this is way overdue.

    The original builder came yesterday to look at the issue. He strongly believes that the issue is leaky caulking and not window installation and / or building deterioration, but then again, I had a feeling prior to him coming up that he would NOT admit that the construction was faulty..

    He looked at the window, inside & outside, the caulking, the partially opened up wall inside, the wood I took out and he said that this leakage was probably very recent (started maybe this spring) as the window frame is aspenite (not sure spelling is right) and that stuff swells up pretty good when wet, and mine hasnt even swollen up a bit..

    He recommended to only redo caulking on every window & door, and replace the window sill (plank that I cut a hole into). he explained how to replace it. sounds like a lot of work.

    What are you guys thinking of that?

    Can I only plug the holes with some kind of waterproof compound (epoxy or polyurethane based perhaps) instead of stripping the window bottom and replacing that plank?
     
  14. May 31, 2013 #14

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    If the OSB has not swollen, he may be right. The easy way to fix this would be to have HD or someone cut you a peice of 1/2 mdf to cover it fit, just cheat the peoth by a quarter inch, so your old trim will still work, it just leaves you with an extra reveil line at the front. Cover the hole with poly and tape before you cover it.

    Before cover it up I would remove a little more so you can inspect under there a little more. You would be looking for discoloured wood (water longer term) and dirty insulation(air movement)
     
  15. Jun 1, 2013 #15

    GBR

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  16. Jun 12, 2013 #16

    condoowner

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    Window has not been replaced. We opened up the wall, removed the old pink insulation, checked the perimeter to make sure no rot or discoloration occurred, and all was visually fine. I say visually because we did not call a $1200 per hour technician to test for mold spores and yadiyada...

    the caulking is worst than I expected. The contractor could peel the whole bead corner using just is fingers. So immediately after the wall was cut open, I went ahead and cut the old caulking off and re-caulked all windows in the building.

    The contractor then used expanding foam (special type for windows and doors so it doesnt bow sills when expanding) and poly tape and resealed the window frame. The wall was then patched and painted.

    I think this is case closed ... I hope so!

    ****************

    Now its been the second summer I am living here. All year round, I get high RH levels in the house. During winter, I have to open the windows a bit (or run the air exchanger all day) to stay below 50%..

    During summer, my dehumidifier struggles to keep the house below 65%. Its a 23 pint per day with a energy factor of 1.20L/kWh. Is it undersized for a 2 story condo (upper unit) with approx. 1,800 sq ft??

    I run the bathroom exhaust fan during showers (short & not so hot showers by the way so not much steam) and keep running the fan 30 to 45 minutes after the shower is done

    I run the range hood at medium capacity during cooking (its supposed to be around 400CFM)

    Windows are all closed 24/7

    Air exchanger runs in recirculation between upper story and lower story

    Dehumidifyer runs in continuous mode 24/7

    I empty the container at least twice per day (1 gallon each time)

    What can I do to further reduce the RH levels int he house? Contractor who came here for the broken window said that these condos were built according to the new canadian design guidelines and that they are much much tighter than older holes hence no moisture escaping the premises.. He suggested running a BIGGER dehumidifyer 24/7 or on a timer (cycle or run part time)..

    My electricity bills are already sky high. With the dehumidifyer running 24/7 I avegare 150$ per month!! Insane, I live alone and barely keep any light on. Air conditioner doesnt run at all... Obviously no heating as well, and I rarely use the stove. Showers are also short and not so hot..
     
  17. Jun 12, 2013 #17

    WindowsonWashington

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    What floor are you on?

    Are the showers vented to the outside of the structure?
     
  18. Jun 12, 2013 #18

    condoowner

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    I am on the second floor. The building has 4 units , two on the first level and two on the upper lebels. Each are 2 story condos, obviously the lower units have a basement while we on top units have mezzanines as a second story.

    Its a wood construction with thick rock and brick siding. We have a floating concrete slab acting as a vapor and moisture barrier. Its approx 2" thick.

    The building is from 2005.

    I am 100% sure the showers are vented to the outside. For my condo there are 4 outside vents, a small aluminum roof chimney (which I assume is for the air exchanger) and 3 white plastic vent traps on the soffit next to my kitchen window. I would think these are for the dryer, range hood and bathroom fan?...

    So yes I am confident the showe is venting outside.

    Edit: I forgot to mention, the people living in the lower unit right below me are not that smart and are letting the condensarion build up on the windows during winter without doing anything. . Ive warned them several times that they should run the exchanger more. Their philosophy is that they live in a condo therefore they shouldnt do anything about it. I dont get it and I think this doesn't make any sense at all...

    I myself very rarely have condensation running down on my windows. Perhaps ive seen it once in 18 months?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2013
  19. Jun 12, 2013 #19

    nealtw

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    I don't have any answers so I will just ask some questions.

    RH outside and how does the effect inside RH?

    Has the air exchanger been serviced, air flow at vents good?

    Would AC do a better job at lowering RH?
     
  20. Jun 16, 2013 #20

    condoowner

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    Neal,

    the outside RH around this time of the year is around 80-90%... Right now, its raining and its 94% outside. I suppose opening the windows to air out the house when its raining doesnt help..

    The air exchanger has not been serviced per-se, but I opened it up last summer to verify everything was in order. Everything is fine with it. Its a simple Venmar EA1500, so only a fan, nothing else, no heat exchanger or recovery unit, no moisture removal, no cooling, nothing except air circulation.

    I would think that cooling the inside of the house would help reducing the RH, but the real question: is my dehumidifier more efficient than my A/C unit?

    I guess I will try both separately and post back with results at some point.

    While at it, when I have redone the exterior caulking, I messed up one of the windows (lack of practice and experience). By the time I moved to the next window, I was told to wet my finger when smoothing the caulk. Worked so well that my second window was nearly perfect. Now I'd like to redo the first window. How long should I wait before pulling the bead and redo?? A week? Its been 3 days now and its still gummy..
     

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