Source of mildew/mouldy smell

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Nis
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Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Nis » Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:58 pm

Hello -
Our basement bathroom shower was smelling like mildew and mould, and even when I re-caulked the bottom of the shower stall (tile walls, fibreglass pan) it would always turn black in a few months. I removed the bottom layer of tile and the pan hoping to find the source of a leak, but the concrete floor was dry and unstained. However, I noted that the drain installation into the floor was not filled back in with new cement, and the vapour barrier underneath the concrete floor was removed. Even though the area did not look or feel wet, could this be the source of the mildew and smell? Of note - as soon as I removed the bottom layer of tile and pan, the smell was gone!

Thanks for any input!
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A. Spruce
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:35 pm

I suspect that your problem stems more from lack of ventilation than a leak, judging from the integrity of the wood and surrounding areas.

Secondarily, regular cleaning to combat the mildew from lack of ventilation. You have to clean more frequently, maybe twice a week or more, if you don't have adequate ventilation to remove the excess moisture from the area.

Do you have an exhaust fan up to the challenge of the room?
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Shannon
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Shannon » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:02 pm

What kind of pan was in the shower? If it was tile it could have been mouldy , it appears it was likely a fibreglass or acrylic one though.
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Shannon
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Shannon » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:03 pm

Never mind I see you said it was fibreglass.
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Nis
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Nis » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:04 am

Thanks for the reply, A. Spruce. Ventilation is good in the bathroom, as it's really quite small (7 1/2' x 6') with a good ceiling fan. And the photo may not show well enough, but the wood framing is dry and in good shape - no water has been behind there. My plan is to put some vapour barrier down on top of the dirt in the open hole, and refill cement in with a collar around the drain pipe to allow for some adjustment with setting the pan in place. A Youtube video by Shannon a couple years ago (installing a one piece shower stall) showed a similar drain pipe collar.

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Shannon
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Shannon » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:34 pm

I would say that the unfinished floor and open gravel is not likely the source since you say the smell has not returned once the old pan was removed. I think you have got the culprit out of the way.
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graciamaria
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by graciamaria » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:24 am

Acrylic or silicone caulks are applied on shower corners in order to seal them, thereby preventing leakages. The practice of caulking a shower is highly outdated and inefficient, because it does not deal with the deep-rooted issues with caulking in the first place. Caulk is not a permanent solution to sealing shower corners. It tends to crack or peel off in different settings or weather conditions. Caulking only provide temporary relief for about 5 to 6 months, after which it will start getting worn out. It shrinks or peels off and collects water in its pits which leads to mold development. Showers always have moisture and dampness, which lead to failure of caulking as it soon begins to peel off. Due to the dampness, you may find mold on caulk too, which further deteriorates the bathroom caulk. Caulk shrinks and cracks in dry settings and peels off in wet settings. If you do re-caulking, it will lead to the same issues again. It is better if you resort to a permanent solution such as an epoxy sealer which permanently blocks the water and you will never find mold issues again. When there is no mold, you will not get any smell.

Nis
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Re: Source of mildew/mouldy smell

Post by Nis » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:07 am

Thank-you, graciamaria. I'm looking at installing a one or two piece acrylic or fibreglass shower stall to avoid caulk altogether - or tiling the entire shower stall. Thanks for your advice!

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