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Antidote for Damp Bathrooms

The bathroom is a magnet for the three 'M' words: mold, mildew and moisture. But moisture can cause more than just unsightly mold. Under the wrong conditions, excessive moisture can seep into the walls causing structural damage. The bathroom is one place where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

However, if your bath has already succumbed to jungle-like conditions, you can give it a makeover and reduce the moisture problems at the same time. First, remove the mildew and mold using a bleach solution of two cups of household bleach to one gallon of warm water. Use plenty of elbow grease and a stiff brush, then rinse and dry. Make sure the walls are dry and scrape off loose or peeling paint before applying a new coat of mildew-resistant paint. You may also want to consider adding an exhaust fan to help remove excess moisture. Adequate ventilation to the outside air, from an open window or door or exhaust fan, is absolutely necessary to vent moisture away.

If your bathroom wall faces the outside, you have yet another moisture- aggravating factor to contend with. The colder outside air will cause condensation on the walls when it meets the warm bathroom air. If you're already planning to tear out drywall or ceramic tile, then it makes sense to add extra insulation in the wall void to minimize the transfer of heat that causes condensation.

On the other hand, your problems might go deeper than that. For example, is water collecting in the crawl space under your bathroom floor? If so, you may need to excavate it properly to provide adequate air circulation and drainage, or possibly install drainage piping. Once the soil has dried out, cover the bare ground with polyethylene plastic or moisture-proof building paper as a preventive measure to keep moisture from seeping up through floors. Wait for warm, dry weather. Then place the strips of plastic or paper so they overlap by at least six inches. Bond the seams with roofing cement, or weigh them down with bricks to form a barrier over the soil.

Sources used to create this article include writer Gene Gary and the Copley News Service.