Garrett (garote) wrote,

The Creeping Coastal Horror!

Mold is serious business. A long time ago I met a cavalier young person who declared that mold was a harmless cosmetic issue, used by selfish California renters to avoid paying rent for perfectly good buildings. He was the son of a wealthy family that owned an apartment building. Gee, I wonder where he got his opinion from.

At the time, I was also young, and not assertive enough to do what I should have: Slapped him silly for spreading lies. Mold is serious business. Specifically, exposure to it aggravates asthma symptoms, and chronic exposure to it slowly degrades your immune system and your lungs. Chronic exposure is like a constant low-grade infection that your body never finishes clearing. Picture it: A moving cloud of spores, floating up from that patch on the baseboard near your bed, and going into your body, all night long every night. Your immune system cleans it up as it comes in, but the front lines - the alveoli of the lungs - never fully clear.

Here's a handy yardstick: If there's enough mold on something that you can stand across the room and still see it, you need to get rid of that mold. And possibly that thing it's on, too!

Last winter during the brief rainy season I was horrified to see this forming on my wall:


The problem is, that wall has a garage door on it. The door is designed to roll up easily, so it has a weak rubber seal around the edges, and water seeps beneath the seal. The water drips down to the base of the door and spreads across the cement floor, then soaks into the baseboard, and: Mold invasion!! (Insert scary music here...)

I went on a month-long trip out of the country, and meanwhile the rainy season continued. When I came back the stain was huge, and my Persian rug had alarming black spots on one corner. I rolled up the rug for later cleaning, then opened the garage door and discovered baseboards and sheetrock looking like this:


HOOORJ!! That's just disgusting. That's no way to treat a house. Who designed this? Someone who has too much faith in rubber seals, obviously.

I thought to myself: "Since I never open the garage door, let's just seal that sucker off!"

I went out and bought something cheap and ugly:


The result was cheap and ugly:


And also, it didn't work. Water seemed to be creeping around it even though it was stuck to the walls, and so totally stuck to the garage door that I had to chisel it off with a spatula.

Once again, it was time to admit it:


I consulted with some experts. The solution was to create an aluminum barrier and splashguard between the outside and inside walls, including the foot of the garage door, so that even if water came creeping around the seal, it would never get through the aluminum, and instead be directed outside into the drain.

I said, "Hey, that's more thorough than the crap solution I came up with. Let's do it!"

So I signed a work order, and a month later two guys came out and ripped away the frame from my garage door:


... Then chiseled and sawed away the damaged plaster from the sides.


Once they were down to the studs, they created some aluminum lips and fitted them to either side of the doorway:


... Then they made a long flat piece and wedged it up beneath the rubber base of the garage door.


Some welding, then some reconstruction of the frame, then some re-installation of the seals, then some sanding and painting... And I had me a newly insulated garage door threshold. I had to call them back to correct a problem with the spacing of the rubber seals, but they returned in less than two hours and fixed it without complaint.

Now for the spray test. A few days later, I aimed the hose at the garage door and sprayed the whole area:

Water test

Success! Not a drop reached the inside. I still need to replace the damaged trim, and find a way to clean my gigantic Persian rug, but I'll deal with those things later.

Between this mold, and the usual spring pollen explosion, and the nasty plant that was growing just outside my door, my allergies were really bad back in April. Some nights I would start wheezing as soon as I laid down to rest - no matter where I slept - and that would turn into a cough. I saw a doctor about it and got a steroid inhalant that I could use before bed, and took her advice:

"Get rid of anything around your home or workplace that is on the standard list of allergens, even if it doesn't usually bother you. You might be experiencing a cumulative effect."

Turns out it was mostly that awful plant, but I'm sure this nasty garage door wasn't helping any. From now on, here's hoping it stays dry.
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