Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

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The attack of Moldzilla

This past weekend, I had the unmitigated joy of cleaning not one, not two, but three moldy objects in the house while kateshort was out buying matching towels and bathmats for our newly renovated bathroom.

When she left, I thought spending a few hours shopping would be the worse activity. Oh, was I so very, very wrong...

The three items in question were the shower curtain, the stand-alone freezer we inherited from the previous owners, and the likely-1970's-vintage dishwasher.

The shower curtain was no problem. Lay out on the deck, spray liberal amounts of Lysol mold/mildew remover (with bleach), let sit in the warm late-summer day, scrub, flip, repeat. Ended up hanging it over the deck and taking the hose to each side just to make sure I rinsed off most of the bleach off. Managed to get it pulled in and hung up over the tub to finish drying just before a thunderstorm blew through.

I discovered the mold in the freezer a few weeks ago, when our normal freezer had become too full so I moved some things down to the other one, which lives in the garage. Part of the rubber of the seal at the base of the door is loose, and the previous owners apparently hadn't quite completely defrosted it before turning the house over to us. We didn't have much need for an entire extra freezer, and so had let it sit, unplugged, for a year. (Thankfully there are two seals there, so it's not losing cold, just not completely sealed. I do plan to fix it, somehow, but haven't had time to do anything with it yet.) End result, black mold most of the way around the seal of the entire door, as well as all over the shelves in the door. Not zesty, but since mold doesn't grow as well in sub-zero temperatures, I wasn't too worried about it getting much worse after I'd plugged it in and cranked the thermostat down.

Around the time I'd moved the frozen food down (all of which is individually sealed, so there's no worry on that account, either), I'd taken some dish soap on an old sponge and tried to scrub off as much as I could, which helped, but didn't completely get it. So this time I took said Lysol mold remover and coated the door with it and let it sit for a bit while I started in on the dishwasher. Then I came back with a bucket of water and an old sponge to clean up. Between the original once-over with dish soap and letting the Lysol sit for a while, most of it had been taken care of and just needed a light scrubbing and a rinse to be clean. The seal needed a bit more scrubbing. Unfortunately, the freezer wasn't happy with having the door open for this and started to defrost, so I had to get in a rhythm of opening the door, scrubbing a shelf, closing the door to let the freezer re-freeze while I rinsed out the sponge, open the door, do the next shelf, etc. That worked for the most part. (The food was still frozen solid when I was done, and that's what's important. I would've moved the food back to the main freezer in the kitchen, but there still wasn't room at the time.) However, the mold inside the C-shaped metal bars on the door shelves was still so bad that they all needed to be taken out and scrubbed, and I drenched the equally-infested bar-holders with Lysol, to soak while I dumped the bars into my bucket, sprayed some more Lysol on them and scrubbed with the sponge and an old, small bristle-brush I'd found in the back of a cabinet in the laundry room shortly after we moved in. Took a while, but eventually got them as spotless as they're going to be. Repeated my open door, clean part, close door, rinse technique to clean the bar holders without defrosting the freezer.

I'd hoped to get the freezer completely cleaned up before kateshort got back, in such a way that she'd never need to know there was a problem, as mold sometimes squicks her out. Didn't quite happen; I'd liberally sloshed water on the floor while speed-rinsing the door shelves, and it hadn't completely dried by the time she got home, so it was still obvious that I'd been doing something involving soap and water right in front of the freezer door. Ah well, at least I got some pity points out of it for having to deal with yet more mold.

The dishwasher was by far the worst of the three. Beyond worst, into the zone of my father's house, which he sold *after* the entire place was gutted to the studs and three rooms were torn down to the concrete slab, in order to pay for the mold remediation. Thankfully, in this case it was highly localized, contained, and technically cleanable.

kateshort had been concerned about the fact that the dishwasher seemed to no longer be completely draining, and had a buildup of what she called "creeping crud". So she'd asked me, before she headed out to shop, to take off the drain cover and clean it out, hopefully getting rid of whatever was blocking the drain in the process.

As far as I can tell, the actual cause of the drainage problem isn't a blockage, but rather the simple fact that the Law of Gravity means water doesn't run uphill. The "pipe" leading out of the drain is actually simple insulated rubber tubing that runs from the outlet of the dishwasher to the drainpipe of the sink, joining in between the sink drain and the sink's P-trap. That means that the sink end of the tube is about 18 inches higher than the end connected to the dishwasher. No wonder water never completely drains out--it's not blocked, there just isn't enough siphon force from the water being pushed through the tube to pull every last bit through up to the top, and the tail end simply drains back down to the lowest point of the tube and slowly evaporates, just like it normally can in the sink's P-trap. Unfortunately, because of the way the tube runs, the equilibrium point is apparently such that there's usually maybe an eighth-inch or quarter-inch of water left above the drain in the very bottom of the dishwasher when it's done. Such a constantly warm, wet environment is ideal for mold growth. (Very unlike the cold, dry conditions inside a running freezer.) Given how much was there, and how long kateshort has been concerned about it, I'm guessing that it probably hadn't been cleaned out in several years.

I managed to figure out how to remove the drain cover and maneuver it out of the dishwasher, and what greeted my eye when I turned it over was Troma-level stomach-churning at best. Nasty, slimy black, grey, and while mold everywhere. Plus years of what seemed to be soap-scum buildup. I took a screwdriver, went out on the deck, and started scraping it out into a pile. The mold was about a full inch deep, and looked like wet, grey & black tofu. Same slightly slimy, slightly crumbly consistency, too. A really soggy piece had broken off and fallen into the drain pool when I pulled it out of the dishwasher, so I went in, picked it up with a needle-nose pliers, and deposited it in the pile with the rest. Let me repeat that--even the soggiest piece of this stuff had a solid enough consistency to be picked up with a pliers.

I then coated the pile with Lysol mold remover (as hope springs eternal...), and also the underside of the drain cover, and left both in the sun for the sun and Lysol to do their work to dry this out and kill the mold. Then, I sprayed the Lysol wherever I could still see black stuff on the inside of the dishwasher. I then scooped the pile into a trash bag and took the drain cover down to the utility room wash tub to finish cleaning it out. That ended up taking around an hour or two, I think, and in addition to hot, hot water and sooooap (old joke, don't ask), also required the assistance of the aforementioned Lysol mold remover, the aforementioned bristle brush, a second screwdriver, and a lot of elbow grease. That stuff just didn't want to let go.

In the middle of that, kateshort got home, and pointed out some more "creeping crud" all along the dishwasher's door hinge and lower seal that also needed to be cleaned out. So I left the drain cover to soak in Lysol and went to take care of that. Since it wasn't near the drain, it was dryer and more mostly more solid, and so, with the help of a screwdriver to pry it off, I got most of that into the same trash bag as the rest, scraped off most of the remainder, sprayed it all with Lysol, waited a bit, then scrubbed off most of whatever was left. Then I finished up the drain cover, reassembled everything I'd taken apart, and ran it once completely empty. That cleaned it out pretty well--though of course, there was still some water in the drain when it was done. In the short run, we'll have to toss in a capful of bleach every few whiles to keep the mold from coming back. In the long run we'll probably have to replace half of the plumbing under the sink at some point, so that it can drain properly (probably about the time we buy a new dishwasher).

Thanks to the way the village fluoridates and chlorinates its water, our tap water has a high enough chlorine content that it normally smells like a swimming pool. That means the mold in the dishwasher had been thriving in a high-chlorine, high-detergent environment. I don't know if a little bleach every now and then is really going to put a dent in its lifestyle. This stuff was only a few days away from evolving legs and walking out of there. For all I know, it was secretly telepathically communicating with sigma7's highly mobile, semi-intelligent, and thoroughly evil Bur-Ger, and together were plotting a synchronized nation-wide terrorist attack. I wouldn't be surprised if the Department of Homeland Security had a file on it under Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction and was in the process of investigating its alleged ties to Al-Qaida. In short, this stuff was truly bad to the bone. Well, bad to the mycelium, anyway.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: gross, house, humor, mold, wtf

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