Mold can’t survive without a water source

Q: My condo had a leak and it affected my ceiling and walls. It was fixed months ago. Now, several hardwood floor panels smell musty along the wall.

The hardwoods are on a plywood overlay on cement (1920s building). I called a mold expert who said mold can’t survive without a water source. There is no water source. Can wood rot survive? Is there a way to deal with this without tearing up my floor? Thanks.

A: I agree with your mold expert. As to rot, it would take a very long time of being wet to rot plywood. If there was active moisture, as in puddles, you would have a serious reaction from the hardwood.

Mold and rot need a certain environment over a long period to exist. Dry rot is a different thing. That is caused by a wood-eating fungus. No reason to think that is happening with you.

Are you getting down on your hands and knees to smell the floor? Don’t. If there is trim such as quarter round along the wall you could remove that and apply flexible caulking to seal the gap. There are also these little tubs you can buy called odor eaters. They may help.

Follow-up: Excellent. Thank you. It just seems a mystery where the musty smell is coming from. The walls are plaster and lathe so it’s not as if it would be drywall.

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