Help me put the "fun" back in "fungus!"
May 18, 2009 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Our upstairs neighbor's pipe burst this morning, and I'm worried about mold. Help!

We live on the third floor of a 1970's-era building in the East Village. This morning, the apartment situated above us on the fifth floor had a pipe burst. No one was home, and by the time I noticed, it was clear that there was water running down the inside of our walls. The fourth floor has water pooling in the hallway lighting fixtures, and the carpeting on the fifth floor is soaked.

I've heard horror stories about mold problems, so I'm trying to be proactive about this.

1. What should I expect to see the building management company and/or my landlord doing in the coming hours and days?

2. How invasive is the cleanup and/or mold removal process? Should we be prepared to have our walls torn down?

3. If mold becomes a problem, what does New York City law say about breaking our lease?

4. Am I overreacting? My fiancee has rather severe allergies, and I have them to a lesser extent. We love our apartment, but like I said, I've heard stories, and I'm getting worried.
posted by dansays to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless you tell management about the water in your walls, they may not do anything for you as they may not assume the water reached your level. You need to alert them now, while they are evaluating and estimating the clean-up and cost. And, yeah, mold is not fun to deal with.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:32 AM on May 18, 2009

I've been obsessing about this too lately. Here's what the EPA has to say about remediation, prevention, and professional standards for mold cleanup.

It looks like, if you are proactive enough, and your landlord is responsible enough to hire a qualified contractor, the moisture in the wood may be dealt with before spores have time to take hold. Best of luck.
posted by doteatop at 9:43 AM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: Mold will happen if the wet areas are ignored for weeks or months. If the walls are opened up promptly, the insulation removed, everything aired out, and then new materials applied, there should not be a problem. Wet carpets should come up. Discard the pads. Of course, this should be done with all of the affected apartments in your building.

This will be a mess, but you if you can wait for the work to be done you can get back the apartment that you love, perhaps better than ever.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:38 AM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Just a quick followup: I spoke with both the building management and a trusted neighbor. There is a firewall between the walls of each unit, consisting of three inches of sheet rock on either side with a pocket of space between and no floor. Water that drained into the walls found its way to the basement, where it was casually mopped up by the super, because we wouldn't want to move with any sense of urgency when water is pouring out of the walls, now, would we?

From what I observed of the aftermath, this makes sense. With a thick physical barrier, no insulation, and a clear drainage path, mold shouldn't be an issue.
posted by dansays at 4:09 PM on May 21, 2009

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