Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Solving Home Mold and Moisture Problems

By: Danny Lipford
Man with smartphone tracking down roof leak in attic.

Allen Lyle tracking down roof leak in attic.

On this episode of Today’s Homeowner, we’re helping homeowners Susan and Tim Fitzhugh find and fix several leaks in their home and prevent water damage, mold, and mildew.

Projects Include:

  • Find and repair leak in metal roof.
  • Fix leak in bathroom shower surround.
  • Install Broan humidity sensing bathroom vent fan.
  • Remove mold with Wet & Forget Indoor Mold+Mildew Cleaner.
  • Replace water damaged insulation with Roxul stone wool insulation.

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re helping a family win the battle in their home with moisture and mold.

Allen Lyle: By approaching it with little technology, and finding out where it’s flowing down from, that’s the way to find a leak.

Danny Lipford: Tim and Susan Fitzhugh, share this home with their two children, Caroline and Will. And the family pet, Sugar.

Susan Fitzhugh: We’ve had a few issues since we built the house and there are moisture in the ceiling and master bathroom.

Danny Lipford: When there is moisture where it shouldn’t be in a home, mold and mildew will quickly follow. So we are here to help solve the moisture problems and stop the mold.

Susan Fitzhugh: We had the shower replaced at one point…

Danny Lipford: Oh this isn’t the original?

Susan Fitzhugh: This is not the original, originally when we built the house 15 years ago, we had tiles.

Danny Lipford: Oh.

Susan Fitzhugh: And we thought they were leaking from the wall basically, but we have moisture all at the bottom. You can see.

Danny Lipford: Oh yeah, I can see. I can see that right in there.

Susan Fitzhugh: Certainly and around the wall, we also have it on the trim. And we’ve had this replaced and…

Danny Lipford: And then it slowly started leaking again. You started noticing some signs?

Susan Fitzhugh: It has come back since then. And on the other side of the shower and little hallway, leading to our bedroom. There’s a lot of moisture down at the bottom also.

Danny Lipford: So when they replaced it, of course you went back with the cultured marble, which is a great option and the pan there looks like cultured marble. Was that replaced?

Tim Fitzhugh: No, the pan is original.

Danny Lipford: Oh, is it? Okay.

Tim Fitzhugh: Yeah. So we just have the walls replaced.

Danny Lipford: So they didn’t have to get into the drain and all of that kind of thing. Okay, that’s something we’d have to look at really, really close. And I see, there’s a little bit of cover-up that’s been done there some point.

Susan Fitzhugh: I’ve tried to spray it with some of the spray paint water…

Danny Lipford: Stain blocker?

Susan Fitzhugh: Yes. It didn’t quite match.

Tim Fitzhugh: Real problem with that in here. We, you know every couple of three weeks probably get up with a Clorox, on a rag and try to minimize the mildews.

Susan Fitzhugh: And try to keep the fan going which we have in the water-closet.

Danny Lipford: But you don’t have one around this area?

Tim Fitzhugh: No.

Susan Fitzhugh: Not at all.

Danny Lipford: Oh, okay. because you know, the thing is with the header over the door, that’s a lot of work that fan has to do, and it may be sized, only for that sized room. So that, we know right-away that can help a lot by maybe just replacing that with a fan-like unit. So any other moisture in the house?

Tim Fitzhugh: We do. We have more of a roofing issue in my daughter’s bedroom.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tim Fitzhugh: Rather than a plumbing issue.

Susan Fitzhugh: Recently we had a metal… Some metal roofers come out. And they said that it was time for a new roof. Which was concerning because, we bought the metal-roof at a much higher price so it would last us 30 or 40 years.

Danny Lipford: So we’ll need to look up there as well, see what we can find out. We may find so debris up there. You got a lot of trees around here.

Susan Fitzhugh: There are all these pecan trees, yes.

Danny Lipford: All right. That’s got plenty for us to do. Since we like to start at the top, Allen I decided to tackle the roof-leak first. You know, look like Tim had a pretty good idea where that leak was up on that roof. So I bet there’s some leaves up there that we going to need clean up.

Allen Lyle: Well, while you are cleaning up, why don’t I trim some branches?

Danny Lipford: That’s good.

Allen Lyle: And by the way…

Danny Lipford: Landscaper up on the roof there.

Allen Lyle: Help you…

Danny Lipford: The place where the roof is leaking has three steep plains, dumping in to a more shallow pitched area. So it collects a lot of leaves and debris.

Allen Lyle: Tim, you okay if I’m cutting down back through here?

Tim Fitzhugh: Oh, yes, please.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Danny Lipford: Go ahead and cut it. Once we trim back the crepe myrtle tree, and clean the leaves off the roof, we can get a better look at the problem.

Tim Fitzhugh: Well, the first leak we saw came in somewhere in this area right here and as it progressed, it seem to move somewhere in this area.

Danny Lipford: Well, not to pick on you, but the leaves probably contributed a lot but still, I mean it’s so hard to get up here and clean this off but… What about the old water cast, you volunteered to go in the attic?

Allen Lyle: You want me to? He does this to me Tim. Anywhere we go, I’m in the attic. So…

Danny Lipford: Perfect. That worked out pretty well for us.

Allen Lyle: I am going to attic, yeah.

Danny Lipford: It’s probably cooler in there than it is out here but… We’ll spray around and see if we can identify exactly where it’s coming in. Put a little extra there, but either way, we got plenty of caulk to take care of all of this.

Tim Fitzhugh: Okay. Great. Thank you.

Danny Lipford: So Allen and I can communicate while he’s in the attic we setup a face-time call. All right Allen, I’m going to start right at the very bottom of the valley, and start spraying and then I’m going to move up on the right side as I’m facing up. On the side closer to the front door.

Allen Lyle: Okay, waiting for water.

Danny Lipford: Okay, I’m going up the side towards the door now.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And in the middle, right in the middle there’s a little flap there.

Allen Lyle: How about, go to where you’ve got three roof slopes converging. Where all three slopes come together?

Danny Lipford: Yeah, I’m doing that. The water is cooling us down out here. It feels good out here.

Allen Lyle: Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. I really am.

Joe Truini: The very first thing you need to do when you bring home a new can of paint is pry off the lid, then use a paper towel or rags to clean paint off the bottom of the lid, as I did here.

The reason is when they shake the can of paint at the store to blend the colors that’s great, except what happens if you don’t clean after the paint, this is what you end up with.

The paint drips from the underside of the lid, it hardens, then these little chips fall of in the paint, then the next time you go to paint, those little chips end up on the wall or the ceiling, and you want to avoid that.

So after you clean off the lid, and before you replace it, use a plastic bag to cover the can. So cover the entire rim of the can with a plastic bag, then put on the lid.

Now, the plastic bag serves three purposes. First, it helps seal out air so the paint will stay fresher. It keeps paint from getting on the underside of the lid, so you don’t have to keep cleaning it. And but more importantly, it makes a lot easier to remove the lid, next time you go to paint.

Danny Lipford: This week we are helping home owners, Tim and Susan, battle unwanted moisture and mold.

Susan Fitzhugh: Every couple of years, we have some roofers, some metal specialists, roofing specialist come out. And take a look at it. And we’d pay them $500 or $1,000 to patch it. And it basically is just a band aid, over the years. It’s never been fixed for longer than a couple of years.

Danny Lipford: Right now, Tim and I are on the roof, trying to recreate the roof leak, while Allen looks for signs of water in the attic.

Allen Lyle: I got water. I got water.

Danny Lipford: You got water?

Allen Lyle: Yeah. Right there. Right there. Whatever you just did. Can you see the water trickling down now? It’s not trickling, It’s pouring.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, now I can. Yeah, I’m right on the ridge, I can see exactly where it’s coming in. Okay, we’ll let this dry. We’ll see how Tim can do on a caulk gun.

Allen Lyle: All right, sounds good to me.

Danny Lipford: All right, get out of the attic. With a little help from a leaf blower and plenty of sunshine, the roof is dry in no time.

Tim Fitzhugh: That’s a big hole right?

Danny Lipford: Yeah, I think that’s one of the problems. because probably this was 12-inch piece of flashing went up about that high so that when debris gets in here and that water ponds and kind of dams it up on there, it goes right over. That’s what happened when we sprayed that up there.

This sealant, made by Titebond, is designed especially for metal re-fabrications, so it will adhere well and remain flexible, as the roofing expands and contracts with changes in temperature.

Tim Fitzhugh: Surprisingly to see what a small area had to be covered. That was the root of the cause for the leak.

Danny Lipford: So many times, when architects or draftsmen are drawing a plan, they’re drawing it to make it look good. This house does look good, but it’s not designed for an area of the country like this.

It gets a lot of rain. The design will always be a problem, and will require a heck of lot of maintenance to keep the leaves off the flatter area of the house. Or it will always be leaking.

Inside, Allen is getting the scoop on the shower-leak from Susan.

Susan Fitzhugh: We are so very frustrated to find out where the water is actually coming from. We’ve had it fixed several times,

Allen Lyle: Right…

Susan Fitzhugh: and we still have leaks and mold and mildew.

Allen Lyle: What we are going to do, we’re going to treat this just like we did the roof. We’re going to give it water test. To find out exactly where that water is coming from.

Danny Lipford: Have you told her everything we are going to do?

Allen Lyle: No, I thought that I’d leave that to you.

Danny Lipford: I can take care of that, okay, so we are going to do a water-test. We are going to be able to determine that. You are probably thinking how are we going to see the water? Well, Allen’s taking a piece of baseboard off the back wall, where you had that damage there.

Susan Fitzhugh: Yes.

Danny Lipford: Then we have that cool little inspection camera. We’re going to run, right along that baseboard. We are going to make it leak. He is going to see where it is leaking. And they’re going to fix it.

Allen Lyle: So if we got a leak, we should see this water starting to seep this way. And actually running in this direction. All right. You can turn the water on.

Danny Lipford: You’re not used to doing that when you’re not in there…

Susan Fitzhugh: No I’m not..

Danny Lipford: Okay so just keep it right. Just go around in a circle around the base there. Might take a while for it to build up and…

Susan Fitzhugh: Yeah. You know what? The kids like to, when we bathe in here, like to put a wash rag down there. We literally stop it up, the kids’ favorite thing is to stop it up and make it like a bath in here. And we fill it up all the time, you know, to up to the edge, basically. He has water.

Danny Lipford: He does? He found some water?

Susan Fitzhugh: He has water but he doesn’t think it’s coming from the drain.

Danny Lipford: All right. You can see the water. See how it’s dark right here? You got water seeping.

Susan Fitzhugh: Yes.

Allen Lyle: Now if it was coming from under the pan, that’s one thing but if you look up here.

Susan Fitzhugh: Moisture.

Allen Lyle: On the plate line, it’s coming up here.

Susan Fitzhugh: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: Now watch as I tilt the camera up, when I go to the installation, do you see the… There’s a drop right there.

Susan Fitzhugh: That’s water.

Danny Lipford: Now I sprayed on the escutcheon of the valve.

Allen Lyle: You did spray the escutcheon?

Danny Lipford: I sprayed all around the escutcheon.

Allen Lyle: See that drop of water up there? It’s coming down on the insulation.

Danny Lipford: Most likely, when it goes up to the showerhead, it could be leaking in the wall from up there.

Susan Fitzhugh: And we just changed out the showerhead and had to twist the pipe coming from the wall.

Danny Lipford: Maybe we’ll take the showerhead off and the extension plug it. And that will eliminate the possibility that it’s that leak.

Jodi Marks: You know sawhorses are great to have around say your house or creating a platform if you’re hanging wallpaper or out on the job site to hold the tools.

But sometimes you need more than a sawhorse. You might actually need a workhorse. And this is the Workhorse by Husky.

Let me just tell you, right off the bat, this is a pretty strong and powerful Workhorse, because it can hold up to a 1,000 pounds on this surface alone. I like this foundation here on the top because if I’m cutting two-by-fours or if I want to hold a three-quarter-inch piece of plywood, I’ve got good support. I can clamp my clamp right here to hold that piece of plywood into place.

Also, take a look at this little design here along the legs, this isn’t just for decoration. If you’re by yourself and you need to hold that two-by-four in place, all you got to do is slide it through this top slot. and it is secure enough for you to then go ahead and cut it.

Or what you can do, is that you can create a work surface, or say a storage surface, down below by running two-by-fours on either side here and attaching it to the other Workhorse. And now you have a nice little platform that you can store your tools.

So if you are in the market for sawhorses, why don’t you think about getting a Workhorse instead, because you can get a lot more work done for sure.

Danny Lipford: Tim and Susan Fitzhugh, have been fighting with moisture in their home for 15 years. We just corrected a roof-leak. And now we are looking for the source of water seeping into the walls around their shower.

Allen Lyle: By approaching it with a little technology, getting that inspection camera inside the wall, while the water’s rolling, and finding out where it’s flowing down from. That’s the way to find a leak.

Danny Lipford: So far, we’ve eliminated the shower pan as the source of the leak. Because we see water in the wall, above it. Now we are looking more closely at the pipe that supplies water, from the shower-valve to the showerhead. I need some shampoo in here.

Allen Lyle: I’m not seeing, I’m not seeing any moisture or anything right there.

Danny Lipford: This showerhead is adjustable, so we can simply close it off, instead of removing and capping it. See that puts a lot more pressure on it by doing that—stifling it in the showerhead.

Still, there is no leak. So we remove the trim-plate around the shower-valve, to see if the material behind it is wet.

Well, once we took the trim-plate off of the valve, you could tell there was something going on. There was plumber’s putty, there was silicon, there was the original foam cover there. Something just wasn’t right. And it just didn’t seem to be fitting against the wall properly.

All right, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m just going to splash this water, up into the hole where escutcheon covered, and see if it tracks down in the same place.

Allen Lyle: Yup. Yup, that’s it. Following the same path. It’s coming down now.

Danny Lipford: Once the leak is identified, the fix is simple. Clean off the shower wall, and replace the trim plate with a new one, including a brand new gasket to seal it to the wall.

To kill the mold that is already present, we are applying a mold and mildew cleaner. This one from Wet & Forget, not only will kill the mold and mildew, it also inhibits the regrowth. Plus it’s a disinfectant. So it kills bacteria as well. 10 minutes after it is applied, you simply wipe the surface dry.

Now, to deal with that multi-colored ceiling.

All right, you ready to get started on some painting?

Susan Fitzhugh: Sounds good. Okay, I’ve already sprayed all of the mold and everything that I can find on the ceiling even found some, back over here. And, also sprayed all of it on the top of the cultured marble.

I’ll go ahead and finish cleaning that, if you want to get started on the taping. I know you’re a really good painter and don’t even need any tape. But, this will keep it so, keep it off the walls.

Allen Lyle: To get the moisture out of the bathroom, we got to do something more than that small fan, that’s only in the water closet. So, we’re going to add more ventilation into that bathroom.

Danny Lipford: Well, so many people have a lot of problems with mold and mildew in their bathroom, whether it’s obvious or not, because they’re simply not moving enough air through the bathroom and exhausting it all the way to the outside.

So, knowing that walking in, we know that it’s going to make a big difference in putting a sufficient-sized fan where the basic part of the moisture is, right over the shower.

In this case, there’s already a recessed light fixtures here, so I’m setting the fan housing over it, and tracing the outline before cutting the hole for the fan housing. Since the fan needs to operate independently of the lights. We are also installing a new switch-box on an adjacent wall.

The fan we are installing here is made by Broan. And it not only includes a light but also humidity sensor. That means when the humidity rises in the bathroom, the fan will turn itself on whether Tim and Susan remember to hit the switch or not. Okay, ready to flip it on? There you go.

To get the most out of this new fan, we’re using six inch metal-duct, running straight from the fan housing to the gable wall, where we’ve installed a vent to the outside.

Allen Lyle: Ideally, it’d be great to go straight up. I hate cutting into a metal roof though. And the fact that we are only maybe 12 feet away from the gable of this house, it just made more sense to make a sidewall vent for the air.

Danny Lipford: The existing fan in the water closet uses a four-inch-vent-pipe, but it was never connected to the outside, which created a bad situation.

Allen Lyle: There’s this beautiful white installation up there, and there’s this pile of black gunk all over it where the moisture has been getting all over this installation. Mold is growing in there. I mean… All of this from the moisture that was pumping in the attic when there was enough vent-line to go to the side wall. Go figure.

Danny Lipford: We’re solving that by adding a second vent in the gable so we can connect the old fan to it. This kind of moisture-problem in attics is not uncommon, so we try to use stone-wool installation when we can.

Stone wool, like this material from Roxul, repels water. So even if it’s exposed to moisture, it dries quickly and won’t slop or lose it’s R-value like other materials. And because Stone wool is inert, it won’t contribute to mold or fungal growth.

Now back in the bathroom, Tim and Susan are trying to find their groove as painters.

Susan Fitzhugh: This is how we do it. You do it and I redo it.

Danny Lipford: Well, you know, we always ask homeowners if they’ve painted before and most to all of them say, “Yes,” but you never know to what degree. I think maybe she painted a little more than he has.

Danny Lipford: People who have asphalt shingle roofs, often want to how to tell when the roof needs to be replaced. Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing in the U.S. because they are effective and relatively inexpensive, but they do have a finite lifespan.

When these shingles become brittle the chances of the roof failing go way up. To test this, bend one of the tabs back with your hand. If it bends with a gentle curve, it still has some flexibility and probably lots of life left. If it creases or breaks, it is brittle and could easily snap off in a stiff wind.

If the problem is confined to just a few shingles, you can replace them yourself without replacing the entire roof. Simply pry up the damaged shingles with a flat-bar to remove the nails near each of the slots between tabs. You have to do the same with the row above it as well, since those nails go through both shingles.

Replace the damaged shingle with the new one of similar color and style before you drive new nails in the same location. Finally apply some roofing cement between the rows to hold the bottom of each tab in place.

Danny Lipford: The kind of problems we found with moisture and mold at Tim and Susan’s house, are more common than you might think.

Tim Fitzhugh: I think we feel like we’ve some resolution and some closure on things, which is fantastic. And if we, I feel like the situation was to occur again, that we have enough experience that we’ll be well-equipped to correct it ourselves. I guess, it’s just really… It shows you how having a different set of eyes on an issue can really help…

Susan Fitzhugh: And it can, don’t look over the small things, you know. In the shower, just caulking and you know, to think that makes that big of a difference. That we’ve really needed that fan to help with all the humidity.

Tim Fitzhugh: I know that’ll be nice not to take a shower and look up and see the mold that needs to be cleaned.

Susan Fitzhugh: Yes.

Danny Lipford: You can see that what we did here wasn’t expensive. Just a little time-consuming. And while you may not be an expert on all the materials and systems in your home, you can educate yourself.

Ask lots of questions and research the answers you get. Whether you fix it yourself or hire someone, you stand a much better chance of solving the problem if you understand it first.

Well, what a great family to work with! But a family that was having a few problems with the house that they love. This house is 15-years-old, and they’ve been having problems all along with that roof leak.

Well, Tim knows exactly where the leak was happening at and exactly what to do to repair it. Now the bathroom, shower stall been leaking for 15 years. Even though they spent $3,000 to have it repaired one time.

Well, they are very happy now that we found the leak. And we will be finding some other problems and solving them next week.

Right here. On Today’s Homeowner. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you then.

Susan Fitzhugh: I think it’s great. They’re on my nose. Sorry. Yeah.



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