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Save Your Stuff Blog

Water damage – mold – historic preservation – murals – artwork

I was asked to consult on a renovation project of a historical building. The reason I was brought in was because there were difficult problems with murals. While this may seem not so relative to your situation… read on.

First of all, here’s what happened (that could happen to your home or office): The roof leaked and water infiltrated into the structure, into the walls. The roof leak wasn’t dealt with quick enough or completely enough cause someone was trying to save money and not be inconvenienced.

In the meantime, mold loves humid conditions and it grew and grew and grew until, in order to get the mold out and get rid of the smell, the building had to practically have all its wall board ripped out and the walls rebuilt from the inside out. Disinfestations and sanitizing were a daily, repeating process.

Crps of mold under the fabric of this mural

In the case of this project, they thought they had the mold all under control and taken care of. Then they called me in to double check some work that had been done on wall painting (mural) conservation/restoration issues. In the photo you can see what I found when I peeled the mural off the wall. The mold practically growled at me from under the canvas!!!!!

We immediately began the process of removing the murals for clean up. In the process, I only wore my mask for 1/2 the time… and paid the price. My allergies flared up for the next two weeks.

All emergency preparedness kits and packs should include cheap particle/dust masks and also masks with carbon filters sealed in zip lock bags.

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77 Responses to “Water damage – mold – historic preservation – murals – artwork”

  1. Frank says:

    You found out the hard away about protection from mold. The US EPA has an excellent guide for evaluating mold situations, which includes what protective measures should be taken. Just run a Google search for the EPA’s Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.

  2. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that mold contamination must be addressed not only to kill the mold, but to remove it completely from the premises since dead mold is still allergenic and potentially toxic. Do you think mold might be growing somewhere in your home? If so then you should have a mold removal performed.

    Find out more at Mold Detection

  3. Emma Neeley says:

    Looking forward for more tips about this. Great ideas in this video. Thanks

  4. Emma Neeley says:

    Really your blog is very interesting… I’ve been reading a bunch of your articles. This one on water damage is also something that happens all the time to stuff in storage.

  5. Julie says:

    Nice post which The roof leaked and water infiltrated into the structure, into the walls. The roof leak wasn’t dealt with quick enough or completely enough cause someone was trying to save money and not be inconvenienced. Thanks a lot for posting.

  6. Kenny Arcuri says:

    Mold is a tough thing to get rid of completely but so important. Don’t ignore it or take short cuts, folks. Scott’s info is right on. We just went through it.

  7. Greg Smith says:

    Some valuable advice in this post. These kind of damages can be very difficult to remove if you don’t take care of the problem right away. For instance, we got some mold on some prints and put them into storage. The little white fuzz turned into black, red and yellow spots that the art conservator said would have come out a lot faster (therefore cheaper) if we had had the work done right away. So, follow the advice in this article.

  8. Scott says:

    Thanks William. Your advice is very important. I’m asked often though, if all mold will make you sick. The answer: no. BUT, there are 10′s of 1000′s of types of mold and you can’t tell which once will get a reaction from you. So, wear at least protective masks and gloves. Infact, just for safe measure, I always use a carbon filter mask, which are sold in the same section with the dust masks at the hardware store.

  9. Great suggestions and examples and I’d like to add, as a professional, working on restoration projects – don’t forget to always wear your personal protection equipment.

  10. Scott says:

    Good points Todd. Also folks, be aware that a “pack out” company – the guys that get your stuff out of the house or business and do the clean up after a disaster – are not equiped or trained to take care of every kind of object in your house. For instance, these company’s should NEVER treat mold or do ANYTHING to fine art or valuable items. Require them to get specialists for the valuable or sensitive items (like antiques).

    Also, folks, be careful of off the shelf products for mold or cleaning when you are looking at fine art, books or antiques. Make a call to a professional conservator first. They’ll give you free advice.

  11. Todd says:

    Due to recent flooding here in Minnesota, many people were unable to save some of their belongings. Mold thrives in moist areas and can be a major health hazard, especially for those with allergies and an already weakened immune system. Prevention of mold is always the better alternative if possible. Sometimes professionals are required for mold clean-up.

  12. Walter Camera says:

    Thanks for sharing this with everyone. I don’t think many people are aware of how bad mould can get and how hard it is to control. Good thing these guys knew who to call for the artwork!

  13. Scott says:

    After the crying is over, call someone who is specialized in preservation and restoring wall paintings (murals). You may be interested in another job we just completed with water damage at http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/la-produce-market-murals
    Call toll free 888 704 775
    Scott

  14. Carl Sams says:

    That’s a shame for these guys. I worked in a David Adler House in Chicago with real painted walls over plaster, I’ll tell you that would make me cry if that were to happen on that kind of a home!

  15. Scott says:

    Because the murals were adhered to the wall with a wall paper paste, the mold, which was eating the paste, was only on the back of the canvas (which was glued to the wall). Therefore, it was a matter of scrapping off the paste to remove the mold. Note: we protected ourselves very well with masks and gloves etc.

  16. Thomas says:

    What did you use to remove the mold from the murals?

  17. I find this information very useful as we are architects but rarely find good info about preserving art in buildings. The information available here is great.

  18. Jada says:

    I read your post and want to say that your post is very helpful and informative about water damage and some ideas about preservation and restoration. I will come back for reading more from your articles. Thanks

  19. Dexter Holcomb says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. The building had to practically have all its wall board ripped out and the walls rebuilt from the inside out… wow, what a job! Good thing they knew who to call for the artwork!

  20. Rommel says:

    Water damage can just be hiding in your house and you can only notice it when it is worst. So doing this kind of inspection is really important. Here at our local I only trust the Water Damage St Louis on doing water damage restoration in our house.

  21. Julia says:

    I find this information very useful as we are architects but rarely find good info about preserving art in buildings. Thank you for the information that you post. I signed up for the RSS feeds. Good job!

  22. JohnBL says:

    I found your blog when I was looking for a different sort of information but I was very happy and glad to read through your blog. The information available here is great. Thanks for sharing.

  23. janice says:

    I must appreciate you for the information you have shared.I find this information very useful and it has considerably saved my time.thanx:)
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  24. Pat Chorttle says:

    I don’t think many people are aware of how bad mould can get and how hard it is to control. It’s not a case of just cleaning it away, most people will neglect to get to the root of the problem so it will just keep returning.

  25. John Tan says:

    Because it ignores the loss, Ilsa. In this case, it is through the entire building.

  26. I agree with Scott, if they had done something in the first place, it could have not led into a more complicated problem.

  27. Scott says:

    Ilsa, In this case, the reason it infiltrated the building’s construction was because they ignored a leak.

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