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Old 08-26-2017, 07:11 PM   #1
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Tearing out bathroom stall as mold woes return

(should read tearing out, don't know how to edit the topic line)
We had a mold/mildew smell this past spring (I posted about that), discovered a small leak in bathroom vent, removed vent, sprayed a mold spray on top of the shower/bath stall where we could see there might be some mold or mildew, did the best we could (hard to access), the smell went away. But it's back, strongest when the heater on (we already removed heater, looked around the cabinet, the smell is there but no signs of it). Removed bath vent again, was a new small leak, but very little moisture and no visible mold/mildew in same area. Just odor.

We're thinking the original mold spread down the stall on the back side (by kitchen) or front side where door is.

It seems our options are - (1) remove all the interior paneling and framing around bath stall, or cut into it certain places, look for and treat mold, which hopefully we'd find because if not then we are baffled, (2) tear out the stall ourselves, which is what we are thinking of doing, (3) find a restore-repair place that could remove the entire shower stall, look for mold, then either replace, or not, a new stall (expensive options, but hopefully less so than new trailer). (4) sell to someone who doesn't mind the smell! (I think it is a stronger odor than my husband)

Our trailer, a 2005 model, is otherwise in good shape. I guess it is now in the category of vintage Escape. Doing some restoring work, though depressing, makes sense, if it solves the problem. We gotta do something!

Anyone have this issue? Has anyone with an older Escape done any restoration, alteration work? Anyone know someone in western Washington who does such work? I've found some names on line, have to wait to Monday to talk with them.

(Someone on the fgrv forum suggested we talk to Reace about suggestions, but my husband tried to call in the spring to do that and was directed to customer service who said they could not help us or make suggestions.)
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:58 PM   #2
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I'd email ETI again (don't just phone, keep a record of the email chain) because there must be some advice they can give. Good luck on working through this problem. Be persistent with ETI they r busy but I'm confident you will get some good advice.

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Old 08-26-2017, 08:21 PM   #3
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ETI was right in the middle of finishing up the new manufacturing buildings in the Spring. For the most part, Reace and Tammy were unavailable. I'd certainly try again.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:22 PM   #4
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The interior plastic shell/paneling unscrews and comes out, right? That seems like the place to start, at least. Even just removing the top half without messing with the plumbing etc on the bottom half might give you a bit better idea of where the mold's spread to.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:30 PM   #5
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Before pulling the trailer apart I would drill some inspection/access holes in the wood paneling to see what your issues are behind the bath stall. Harbor Freight sells inspection cameras and I think Amazon is now selling inspection cameras for smart phones.
The fix would be to get a 1 gl. garden sprayer with a wand and a gal. of Carbonium Mold Control and insert the wand through the holes and soak everything down. The Mold Control will kill the mold and keep it from coming back.
If the mold is growing on the back side of the paneling at that point you may have to remove the paneling if you can't get Mold Control on it to treat it.
If you do have to really tear things apart Just remove paneling and leave the frame and you should be able treat everything and let things dry out and check for leaks. Then ETI could just reskin your framework.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJ View Post
(should read tearing out, don't know how to edit the topic line)
We had a mold/mildew smell this past spring (I posted about that), discovered a small leak in bathroom vent, removed vent, sprayed a mold spray on top of the shower/bath stall where we could see there might be some mold or mildew, did the best we could (hard to access), the smell went away. But it's back, strongest when the heater on (we already removed heater, looked around the cabinet, the smell is there but no signs of it). Removed bath vent again, was a new small leak, but very little moisture and no visible mold/mildew in same area. Just odor.

We're thinking the original mold spread down the stall on the back side (by kitchen) or front side where door is.

It seems our options are - (1) remove all the interior paneling and framing around bath stall, or cut into it certain places, look for and treat mold, which hopefully we'd find because if not then we are baffled, (2) tear out the stall ourselves, which is what we are thinking of doing, (3) find a restore-repair place that could remove the entire shower stall, look for mold, then either replace, or not, a new stall (expensive options, but hopefully less so than new trailer). (4) sell to someone who doesn't mind the smell! (I think it is a stronger odor than my husband)

Our trailer, a 2005 model, is otherwise in good shape. I guess it is now in the category of vintage Escape. Doing some restoring work, though depressing, makes sense, if it solves the problem. We gotta do something!

Anyone have this issue? Has anyone with an older Escape done any restoration, alteration work? Anyone know someone in western Washington who does such work? I've found some names on line, have to wait to Monday to talk with them.

(Someone on the fgrv forum suggested we talk to Reace about suggestions, but my husband tried to call in the spring to do that and was directed to customer service who said they could not help us or make suggestions.)
I would e-mail Tammy . I would call and ask to speak to Reace . You are not far from the factory . Ask to make a appointment for Escape to fix your trailer . They would have everything needed to repair your trailer . It would cost for labor and any parts they need . But that would be where I would want it fixed and that would be fair . Very sorry and I feel your pain . I know you didn't want to change out that 9 in Vent but they have a better fix to get rid of the 9 in which can fail again . Hope you get this situation resolved .So sorry , Pat
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Patandlinda View Post
I would e-mail Tammy . I would call and ask to speak to Reace . You are not far from the factory . Ask to make a appointment for Escape to fix your trailer . They would have everything needed to repair your trailer . It would cost for labor and any parts they need . But that would be where I would want it fixed and that would be fair . Very sorry and I feel your pain . I know you didn't want to change out that 9 in Vent but they have a better fix to get rid of the 9 in which can fail again . Hope you get this situation resolved .So sorry , Pat
And based upon where you live (Pacific NorthWET), after it is "fixed," I would run a good dehumidifier in it when it is not being used, and keep the humidity around 40%.
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Old 08-27-2017, 11:12 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your suggestions and replies, much appreciated. We will try again Monday morning to contact Escape and speak with either Tammy or Reace. The idea of removing just the top of the stall is a good one, that would give access to what we might need to do. We'd still have to remove front wall in order to remove it, or slide it out of the way. It's still a big scary prospect but hopefully it would go well.

I really hope Escape will have some ideas or help us, we will talk to RV repair places, but I get nervous having someone work it who is not familiar with molded fg trailers.
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by PJ View Post
(should read tearing out, don't know how to edit the topic line)

(4) sell to someone who doesn't mind the smell! (I think it is a stronger odor than my husband)
Jeeze Penny, I'm sorry your husband smells so bad ....

All kidding aside, I think I would
1) remove all roof penetrations ... vents, air conditioner (very heavy and awkward) etc.

2) move trailer to a covered (do before #1) area such as a car port

3) turn on heater and keep trailer very warm for at least a week. Maybe 2 weeks This is to dry out hidden areas. Mold won't grow if the moisture level is below a certain level ... say 15 - 18%.

4) Put your sniffer down near the openings. Still smell mold? Then you are not done drying it out .... more time needed.

5) Re-bed the openings. The fact that you found two leaks at separate times suggest that its time to re-bed all fastenings. Perhaps the leaks have caused mold/and smells in a very local area.

Re-beding: clean off old caulk, clean area with acetone to remove any residual wax, replace fitting dry - no caulk and mark edges with a pencil, remove vent / fitting and install blue masking tape about an 1/8" to outside of pencil line, get some caulking of same type that Escape uses - seems to work pretty good, goop up fitting and set in place according to your tape lines - don't push down hard but enough to chase out any trapped air - you are trying to "cast" a perfect fit gasket, "tool" out edge with your finger (gloves recommended) and allow caulking to dry for several days, peel up tape after "tooling" but before drying, after caulking has "set" - daub fasteners, screws bolts etc., with fresh caulk and tighten down - watch for a slight bulging of the caulking along fitting edges , done.

You DO NOT want to squeeze out the caulking till its less than paper thick - if you do, its guaranteed to leak again in short order. Perfect caulking thickness = about an 1/8" or a little less. Then the elasticity of the caulk can stretch to make up for the difference in the expansion / contraction of the plastic or metal of vent or fitting and the fiberglass shell. ]

If this doesn't work, then I'd try taking to ETI and see what they can do.

If this does work, then I'd store under a shelter with a window craked and your fantastic fan cover cracked open a little. It could be that you don't have a leak at all but smell is coming from the moisture you generate inside the trailer while using it. Together, you and your husband give off more than a gallon of moisture every 24 hours with cooking, showering and breathing. Since the fiberglass shell is so tight one must ventilate to get rid of this moisture ... = Fantastic vent open a crack ( exhaust) and a window cracked a bit for make-up air. Heat on or a humidifier.

Hope this helps - after more than thirty year doing home and boat repairs, I have my PhD in both Tarp-ology and Caulk-ology

Tom

I'd do all this first as its way cheaper than doing any tear outs or getting a better smelling husband ...
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Old 08-27-2017, 06:33 PM   #10
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Thank you Tom! Very good description of laying a good caulk line, read it to my husband (who doesn't really smell so bad, I just write poorly sometimes, for a writer!). Getting the caulk Escape uses is an excellent idea. We do keep our trailer under cover with vents open in the winter, sometimes heated, sometimes not. It is definitely from a leak, probably the earlier one, the second one being very minor and not really getting into anything. I think our mistake was not inspecting carefully old caulk, seeing how it has been 10 years since the vent was last set.

We have sprayed again down and around the shower stall and it has helped with the odor, it is going to sit in the hot 90 degree sun for a few days (yes even here on the Olympic Peninsula we get days that hot!) Also ordered a wireless borescope inspection camera to look around some more and the recommended Kamberra gel.

Will wait and see what we might hear from Escape, have emailed them for possible suggestions.

This may be the time to consider the upgrade we've talked about, and sell with full disclosure our 2005 for a very good price! It is otherwise in excellent condition.

Our first trailer, a 13' Burro, came with mildew issues we did not know about, much more serious. We addressed by replacing cushions, cabinet doors, carpet etc. We used it 12 years and sold to a young couple with the complete story, they were delighted, did their own cute interior remodel!
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:56 PM   #11
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Oh my stars. All I could think of is NOT AGAIN! Penney, I distinctly remember reading your thread on FiberglassRV... something like... Be careful what you fall in love with.. or something like that. And remember reading about all that you did to make the trailer inhabitable for you. I also remember your "sniffer" is more attuned to mold/mildew than most...

IF it were me, and it's NOT, I'd look into either buying or renting a endoscopic inspection camera. I wouldn't tear into walls until I KNEW where the problem was. I'd drill a couple of holes inside the shower area, up near the top... and look at what's going on inside the wall(s). And then go from there. IF you find nothing on a given wall, you can fill the hole with marine epoxy and cover the hole/epoxy with a decal... maybe a sea shell or cowboy boot (hahahaha). But first you need to find out exactly where the problem is, before just tearing into the shower in hopes you find the problem. I wish you well.

Here's a cheapy... better ones with longer wire can be rented: https://www.harborfreight.com/digita...era-61839.html
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:18 PM   #12
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Penny,

I forgot to add that any penetration could be leaking .... lights, vent hood, door hinges, etc. I'd check out all those areas. I'd be most suspect of roof stuff, but could be any fastening. Note when you remove .... likely the guilty party will have obvious water under the fitting. Like others, I wouldn't do a tear out until last resort. Check your plumbing fittings too .... particularly bathroom ones .... leaky failing hoses? Once located, I think a bake off @ 80 -90F for a week or two with roof penrtrations removed (so water vapor has somplace to go). Careful of fire if using electric heaters.

Just a thought .... drap the top of your trailer with light piece of plastic, taped down so it won't blow off, while heating the inside of trailer ... in the morning when the outside temp has cooled down, you might see a little condensation around the guilty leaker. That would be a good sign.

Please report back - could happen to any of us.

Tom
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:59 PM   #13
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We do keep our trailer under cover with vents open in the winter, sometimes heated, sometimes not. It is definitely from a leak, !
This is a big red (moldy) flag to me. The way I learned it: there is mold spores in the air, just floating around looking for a place to live. A leak here or there might have given the spores a wet spot to land but leaving the vents open and letting the temperature get below the dew point is the environment they continue to live, and flourish.

If you believe that, like I do, then you #1 make sure the air is moving everywhere you can so the normal changes in humidity will hopefully dry out their home long enough to kill them, at least a few times a year!

#2 if you have the AC is that heated air holds more moisture so with some movement (fan(s) you make the place the mold lives less damp and hopefully dry.

Then you add a little Lysol spray or any mold killer to the mix and with a little luck you can start to win the battle.

Any boat, trailer, dog house or .... will eventually have obvious resident mold after a few years of being out in the cold damp weather. Leak or no leak the mold is always looking for a home.

Some wood sealer is the best defense, the mold doesn't have a happy place to land. With that in mind I disassembled our bed and dinette seats and coated everything I could. I open all the doors and drawers in the winter, keep a slow fan or two moving air, and the temperature in the upper 50s. If I smell or see mold I give it a blast of aerosol Lysol.

This 'recipe' is mine for our cool damp marine environment. It was 'born' when I had a sailboat moored at the marina and had limited AC power.

Here is a Dew Point calculator, I learned about it from some folks that kept collections of precious artifacts. The upper 50's was round number for me to make it easy in my garage and trailers etc.
Dew Point Calculator


PS - stopping leaks is #1 ...
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