Your place: Wet sum­mer’s har­vest of mold and mildew

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NEWS - BY ALAN J. HEAV­ENS

Above-nor­mal rain­fall since early June has yielded a bumper crop of mold and mildew is­sues, home­own­ers and pro­fes­sion­als tell me. But one of the worst re­ports comes from Richard A. Heath, wor­ship­ful mas­ter of the Pales­tine-Roxbor­ough Ma­sonic Tem­ple in Philadel­phia.

The build­ing is sel­dom used in sum­mer, and when Heath stopped by in late Au­gust, he saw mold on the back wall of the ban­quet hall.

“In the vestibule of our lodge room, this same back wall has pho­tos of our past mas­ters, and many of the mats and pho­tos are cov­ered with mold,” he wrote.

The out­side of the wall is brick, and “I was think­ing maybe re­point­ing is nec­es­sary. Or could the prob­lem be lack of ven­ti­la­tion in the build­ing over the sum­mer?” Heath asked.

Be­cause Joe Ponessa, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of hous­ing, in­door en­vi­ron­ment, and health at Rut­gers Univer­sity, had not seen the build­ing first­hand, he said his re­sponse was more of a gen­er­al­iza­tion.

Bricks and most ma­sonry are perme- able to wa­ter, hold­ing ma­jor amounts af­ter a good soak­ing, Ponessa said.

“When the sun comes out af­ter a heavy rain­fall, heat­ing the bricks, mois­ture is driven out of them, trav­el­ing both in­ward and out­ward. Some mois­ture can be driven into the walls af­ter heavy rains.”

Ponessa doesn’t think that can be fixed by plac­ing a mois­ture bar­rier like poly­eth­yl­ene or vinyl wall­pa­per on the wall. “This will shift the mois­ture prob­lem to the wall in­te­rior, cre­at­ing se­vere prob­lems.”

Home in­spec­tor and engi­neer Har­ris Gross of Cherry Hill, N.J., looked at a photo of the Ma­sonic Tem­ple online but couldn’t make out more than the pic­tures on the wall. He sug­gested:

In­spect­ing the ex­te­rior brick wall for ad­e­quate point­ing. If no other source of wa­ter pen­e­tra­tion is ob­served, a ma­sonry sealant could be ap­plied.

Ex­am­in­ing crawl spa­ces or base­ments for wa­ter pen­e­tra­tion.

Grad­ing the ex­te­rior for wa­ter drainage. In­stalling a de­hu­mid­i­fier. Check­ing the roof, to be sure wa­ter is not run­ning down the wall in­te­rior.

In­spect­ing around the win­dows for mois­ture pen­e­tra­tion.

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