Home Improvement--General/Flooring


QUESTION: Hi my grandmothers dishwasher started leaking. I seen that it is the pump on it. But this has been leaking for awhile and they never knew. So I ripped the dishwasher out to find that the flooring is black and has like white calcium looking stuff on it. It looks almost like mushrooms. The flooring stinks really bad. It is hard wood flooring that is laminate. My concern is can this floor pick up asbestos. The house is only 5-6 years old. So it is still new. My next concern is can this be mold if it is can it make you sick if you remove the flooring. I have a lot of medical problems and a heart problem. So I don't need anything else to get me sick. Regardless I know it has to come out. Thanks.

ANSWER: Hello, Sean.

Yes, your grandmother has a fairly serious problem. Yes, you are right that the flooring needs to come out as soon as possible. I highly recommend that she hires a qualified licensed contractor -- not a handyman. It's very possible that the subfloor and framing has rotted, and joists may need to be replaced. The best way to discover the severity of the problem is to inspect and take pictures of the floor joists and subfloor from the crawl space.

The white stuff you see is probably the salt that remains after a surface has gotten wet; it's called efflorescence. You're right, the black stuff is mold. It's probably not the deadly form of mold known as Stachybotrys. If either of you are concerned that it is the "bad" mold, you can have a sample tested. All mold is unhealthy, especially for someone who has pre-existing health conditions such as yours. Asbestos is a different challenge that is found in many building materials, but not likely in a relatively new home.

Removing mold is a challenge, because it's very difficult to get rid of the spores. Knowing what kind of mold will allow the professional to take appropriate measures to prevent the mold from recurring. Whoever does the work should offer a written warranty for recurring mold for a specific length of time.

I can't stress strongly enough that your grandmother needs to hire a qualified professional who has experience with this sort of work. Verify that the license is current, that there are no outstanding complaints, get references and call them.

Good luck to you and your grandmother. Please, take care.


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, C.A.P.S.
D. P. Design

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well the good news is my dad is a contractor and he deals with this in new and old homes in Navy Housing. He also use to rip copper out of old homes that had asbestos in it and also ripped out old dry wall and also did old flooring in old homes. So he is going to come over and take a look at it and let me know what to do. He told me what he suggested that I could do before he got there was ripp out the old boards and save them for him to inspect and bleach the floor underneath and he said he would inspect the subfloor the frame and joist underneath. Thanks.

This is good news, Sean. You and your grandmother won't have to worry about getting an unscrupulous contractor.

Words of caution: When you (or your father) are working on the affected area, wear a mask, heavy-duty gloves and protective clothing, and protect your eyes with safety goggles. Make sure there's the best ventilation possible -- open a window, and use a portable fan blowing out. You might want to also turn on the exhaust hood (unless it's a recirculating fan). Last advice: make sure that your grandmother and others aren't in the room; this includes family pets.

Hope everything goes well. Sounds like it's under control.


Diane Plesset

Home Improvement--General

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Diane Plesset


I will answer questions about anything to do with bathroom remodeling: design considerations, safety, function, materials (cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures and fittings, lighting/switching, heating and ventilation, tile, stone, concrete, tub and shower enclosures, flooring, etc.), saving water, trends, ROI, and appearance.


25+ years as a bath-kitchen design specialist, hundreds of completed bathroom projects (all styles, all investment ranges). Author of "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling," co-host of a home improvement program on a local radio station for over three years. Currently hosting "Today's Home" on Lifestyle WebRadio every Sunday afternoon (http://www.todays-home.com).

NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), PRO (Portland Remodelers' Organization), IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council).

"THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" (my book, published in 2003), Designers' Illustrated Magazine, Gentry Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Business Magazine, Kitchen-Bath Design News Magazine,Interior Coordinator Magazine (Japan); San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Statesman Journal, Portland Tribune, Oregonian.

Multiple degrees: Bathroom Design, Residential Interior Design, Kitchen Design, and Lighting Design. Regularly attend classes and seminars to maintain current knowledge about codes, trends, sustainability, new products, etc.

Awards and Honors
Awards: Henry Adams Designer of the Year, CoTY, Master Design, Best of the Best, Chrysalis, Excellence (best home in its category), and NABE (best how-to book, 2003). "THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling" received #1 listing in the City of Chicago publication, "Hiring The Pros".

Past/Present Clients
To see photos of completed projects, visit my website: http://www.dp-design.com/portfolio

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