Hidden Error – Big Problem

A recent job held a horrible surprise for the homeowner.  Although it appeared the existing wallpaper had come loose from the wall, the problem was way more serious than that.

Wallpaper doesn’t ordinarily “come loose” or let go of a wall.  There  has to be some reason for this to happen.  In this case, there was mildew – black, powdery, icky mildew – growing on the Sheetrock behind the wallpaper.  Because mildew is chaulky, it does not provide a solid surface for the paper to adhere to; hence the paper was coming off the wall practically in full sheets.

Mildew grows when it has sufficient moisture.  What provided the right environment for this to happen?  The wall where the mildew started its growth was the same wall inside which ran the plumbing for the shower.                

Turns out that, when the shower was installed, a tiny – and I mean TINY – leak was not detected.  This leak was shut up inside the wall, allowing moisture to seep into the Sheetrock, and then wick its way, literally, up the wall and out to the sides, through the wall, and even around corners.  Where the moisture went, mildew grew, destroying not just the wallpaper, but the Sheetrock  itself.  This damage crept around to all four walls of the potty room in the master bathroom, and probably to other walls, too.

Entire walls had to be gutted, down to the studs, and the whole room rebuilt.

A thorough going-over by the building inspector at the time of construction would most likely have prevented this very expensive and distruptive situation.

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