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Bathroom Mildew (or Worse) Smell

Posted by Dave on May 31st, 2001 09:37 AM

We bought our house a year ago (in the Fall). By the time summer rolled around we'd begun to notice a wretched smell coming from our bathroom. My wife thought it was connected to the flushing of the toilet and I thought it was most prevalent when it got hot. There were no visible signs of a problem.

Both because the bathroom needed it - and because of the smell we decided to re-do this bathroom. Starting about a week ago we took out the old toilet and sink. Chipped out the old floor tile and pulled out all of the old plywood subflooring.

After pulling out the toilet and chipping out the tile, we got our first clue. The wax seal around the base of the toilet was disgusting. And, more importantly, we could now see extensive water stains on the plywood subflooring (around the toilet and extending out into the center of the bathroom (the bathroom is only a 5x5 powder room, really). As we took up the plywood it was clear that the water stain extended through to the subflooring.

Here are my questions:

1. I know the mildew odor (kinda musty) - and while the smell from the bathroom was kinda musty, it seemed much stronger to me. Is it still likely that this is just mildew, or could there be another problem associated with the smell?
2. Can we treat the subflooring before laying down new plywood and durarock subfloors? If so,what do we use? Bleach? Something else?
3. Can we (after treating) paint the subflooring with an enamel paint to "seal in" the mildew?
4. Do we have to remove the subflooring down to the joists?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, observations or helpful hints.


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