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