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Quaker retreat center, wood, that has mold problems--alternatives to AC?  RSS feed

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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They say "please keep your AC on all the time and don't open the windows." This is in the Delaware River area, sub-tropical apparently. I would think the geniuses in permaculture world will have a really great solution, but of course it may involve not having built the building out of wood in the first placed. SO I'm looking for the second-rate solution that can still be implemented easily in this situation if one exists. I'd love to pass on an idea, while I'm here. Thanks so much.

My thoughts: sunlight destroys mold. Stone condenses, if it's doing the flywheel effect thingy, and molds don't usually grow on stone (?) only on wood. Something along those lines. I'm tired and not thinking too alertly at the moment. Thanks, good night.


 
Satamax Antone
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Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft high Southern alpine climate.
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Well, you don't provide enough information, like where is that mold located? What the building is made of, as in wood, but is there a house wrap? Is the mold happening inside, outside?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 572
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks--Quaker style is wood, wood, wood--lots of American Beech. I don't know if there is a wrap, but I doubt it. Inside and outside are painted. It's really old building (200 years?) and of historical value to people. As in, they probably don't want to change anything that's visible. The problem I think is they were from England and New England, and didn't build in sub-tropical style...so it's a case of handling a type 1 error. But if there's a way of working around the problem that's better then I think they'd love to hear it.

I have learned since OP that they have PDC courses here, and the Quakers have a testimony (priority) of stewardship of the Earth. It's been made higher priority recently, i have heard.

The goal is to prevent triggering people's allergies, mold sensitivities, etc., as well as the eventual decay of the building.

My best thought so far is solar air conditioner (solar chimney drafting out). At least it needn't be fossil-fuel-powered, but an AC/dehumidifying agent is needed. (And then some kind of dew-point-prevention in the winter...?)
Satamax Antone wrote:Well, you don't provide enough information, like where is that mold located? What the building is made of, as in wood, but is there a house wrap? Is the mold happening inside, outside?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Molds can be tricky since they will grow in places you can't get to.
The areas you can get to can be treated with a borax solution which will inhibit both molds and fungi. If you have enough humidity to grow molds, you have enough for fungi to sprout.
Dehumidifiers are very helpful for reducing mold.

Check the attic to make sure you have enough ventilation up there, that goes a long way and if it is an old building, that might be one of the issues.
Air flow needs to go from soffit to peak, lots of times in old houses, they add insulation in the attic but forget to leave the soffit vents uncovered or there aren't any in the first place.
You need to do a complete inspection, foundation vents, soffit vents, gable peak vents, all should be there and the more humidity you have the more vents you should have.
I put vents every 8 feet (foundation and soffit, gable peaks and ridge vents too) here in Arkansas, we have high humidity most of the year.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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Old barn builders created ducted cupolas that created a draw like a chimney, constantly replacing the air in a structure, it was said that is should be a strong breeze if standing in an open doorway. These had openings on all levels of the structure, to service the whole building.

It really is a situation where the solution is best designed into the structure.....today's codes have no knowledge of old wisdom, that leads to tying hands.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I live in an all wood structure in a seasonally very moist climate. Mold is always just around the corner! Our shoes grow fur in the summer.

The experts around here swear by the "shut the windows and run AC all summer" plan. I have found that encouraging air flow with fans and showering outside helps. I also have been cutting down, year after year, on storing organic materials. For example, storing things in cardboard boxes or packing delicate xmas ornaments in paper. It all ferries mold. . Minimalism is the wave of the future.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Matu, My experience in Cape Cod is the same climate as yours in RI. Just keep the windows open all summer and you'll never want an air conditioner. Maybe a fan at most. It's lightly moldy, but only a little more than outside. But last summer I closed up all the windows for two days when nobody was staying in the house, and also set out a mousetrap. And oh my god, when I came back with guests after two days, it was a mold nightmare! I flung open the rest of the house and quickly borrowed an AC for the guests' bedroom. Ouch!

I have little to say about the Quaker house, having not seen it, but I wonder if you should consider two possibilities that might have happened, since presumably old houses didn't used to get mold issues often. One is, is there a source of moisture that might be encouraging this, like a seep in the basement or a wall? And another is, okay, nobody wrapped that old building, good, but maybe they put in lots of weatherproofing and modern tight windows that blocked all the old ventilation routes...?
 
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