I guess by writing this blog I’m taking a chance that I will get a lot of criticism for not doing things right. Too bad, I never said I was perfect. But I want to write about this because I think I can help others to not make the same mistake. And how bad is it, anyway?
Upstairs in the loft where I sleep, I also have my wardrobe. All the clothing I possess, including the bed sheets, are stored there. An area to hang clothing, jackets and so on, and a few shelves. On the right side the roof is sloped, so there are no shelves. I had a few piles of summer clothing and bed sheets there. The other day I needed to take something from there and when I removed a pile of summer clothing I found a very unwanted guest: mold! Eek! ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘how did this happen?’ Sure, it’s a corner without much air circulation, especially when you stuff it with clothing. And a while ago I left a load of laundry to dry inside the house, while that laundry was really too damp. Gulp.
I immediately sent a message to Dimka and Walden’s team, with a photo of the atrocity. ‘Help! Mold! What happened?’ Dimka was soon to respond with ‘Stoke! And ventilate!’ With which I replied: ‘I’m already doing that!’ And he responded: ‘try harder!’ Me: ‘should I spray anything on it?’ Dimka: ‘it wouldn’t hurt!’ Anyway, something like that. So I went to the DIY store, searching for a fungus-killing substance. Of course, it was meant to be used on tiles, but after deliberating with the office clerk, I decided to buy it anyway. I’d just apply it thin and carefully, but I had to kill that stuff. ‘Gross, now I have a bottle of chemical crap in my cabinet,’ I thought. I also bought a moisture absorber to put in that corner. I’ll have to stock the summer clothing somewhere else, that corner needs to ventilate.
It just so happened that Marcel van Mierlo from the blog Leven in Tuinen paid me a visit last week. When I told him about the problem he explained very clearly what caused it. I asked him to write it down because I didn’t remember very well and I’m not very technical. Now you know for sure the information is correct! Here is his explanation:
Fungus you don’t want
Besides good fungi that are used to give French cheese extra flavor, there are also fungi you don’t want. You can find them in moist areas like basements, bathrooms and if you’re not so lucky, also in kitchens where a lot of food is steamed or there is not enough ventilation.
The best solutions? Make sure there are no wet surfaces, because fungus likes to grow there. This can be hard to do, especially in wet rooms. A decent exhaust hood helps, as does drying your tiles after every shower. But water damp can also find its way into your building framework and condense into water. Causing wet insulation material and less insulation. Is that bad?
On warm days, when an equal amount of water condenses and evaporates, it’s fine. But in winter –with low temperatures – sometimes that doesn’t happen. And then you’ll find mold in the outer corners (where wall, floor and roof connect), because these are the coldest places.
When designing your house, you can prevent this problem by adding a vapor seal on the inside of your framework in the wet areas. It prevents damp from getting into your framework. With breathing frameworks it’s best to ensure proper ventilation of damp air (mechanical exhaust).
Marcel van Mierlo
Thanks for the clear explanation, Marcel!
I decided to check the other corners in my house and discovered a little bit of mold in the sitting area, behind the pillows. Darn it! So I have to remove the pillows to ventilate regularly. I heat my house enough and nowadays have enough ventilation as well. The air grid in the bathroom and of two of the three Velux windows are always open and now I also have air grids in the doors. When I’m cooking, the kitchen window is open a chink, and when I’m taking a shower, the bathroom window is open. Well, apparently all that isn’t enough; the corners are vulnerable.
Now that I know this, I can keep it in mind. Maybe you’re designing your Tiny House right now, and you can use this knowledge for your design. Also keep in mind, that when you choose a gas heater instead of a wood burner, the moist problem will increase. Small houses just get damp easily. You breath, cook, shower, do laundry and so on. So make sure there are plenty of ways to ventilate your house. I hope this helps you; my problems are now solved. I need to stay on my toes though, especially in the corners, but since I now know this, I can take it into account. All I can do now is wait for spring to arrive so that my doors can stay open every now and then!