“I have a bit of a mold problem in my NYC apartment. I used boric acid to remove the mold from bathroom walls but it is inevitable that it will come back. There is very little ventilation as it is an old building and no exhaust. HELP!” – Dejuitsi

NV: Why is it that in the very space you’re trying to get clean, mold and mildew are partying on your ceiling?!?! Eww!

As Dejuitsi points out, little ventilation in his/her old building plus a moist environment are perfect conditions for mold growth. Putting in a bathroom exhaust fan would be the best solution, because as long as moisture lingers, mold will grow. Although installing a fan isn’t an option here, there are many things you can do to keep the mold at bay.

  • bathroom showerTry not to shower/bathe with the door closed tight so your bathroom doesn’t turn into a steam-room.
  • Wipe down your shower/tub walls to minimize water from lingering and evaporating into the air.
  • In temperate months, face a fan toward a cracked window to pull the damp air out of the space. Likewise, face the fan toward the cracked door when it’s too hot or cold to open a window.
  • Wash moldy surfaces with a product that kills and prevents mold growth, naturally, like Safe Sheild. Once cleaned, prime and paint with a mildew resistant paint such as Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Spa.
  • Place a Damprid container in the space. It’s a product that draws moisture from the air and into a reservoir that once filled you can empty out, or throw away, depending on which product you have (I have a half dozen of these in my basement in various closets and such – love ’em.)

“Hi Norma – I am desperate for more closet space, so have been looking at those freestanding wardrobes that have all different shelving combinations. Example here. My question is… is it necessary to bolt something like this to the wall to prevent potential tipping over because of the weight of items. If yes, how do I do that? Thanks!” – Jen L.

IKEA Pax WardrobeNV: To address Jen L’s desperation for more closet space (and trust me Jen, we’re ALL desperate for more closet space!) she’s decided to purchase a tall narrow freestanding wardrobe, but is concerned about it tipping over—rightly so! Units like this one are notorious for “Timber!” moments. Usually the product’s assembly instructions will point out when wall bracing is required (notably on a new stove, where tipping warnings are highlighted and large anti-tip brackets are included with the unit).

For this wardrobe, however, the instructions aren’t so clear. I went ahead and looked at the assembly instructions on-line, which I always recommend doing before purchasing to know how complicated the assembly is going to be. The image-only instructions were vague, to say the least.

Here’s how to secure a freestanding wardrobe (book shelf, storage rack, etc.) to a wall…

The most secure way to fasten anything to a wall is through a stud – so this approach will always be my first choice.

First locate the wall stud where the wardrobe will stand. (To find the stud, if a “thud” sound when knocking on the wall doesn’t work for you, invest in a stud finder.) Once you find it, take a level and draw a straight line on the wall with a pencil to mark that location.

woman makring wallNow you have to transfer that stud location/measurement to the backside of the wardrobe, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to see where the stud is when the unit’s in place! Position the wardrobe against the wall, take a pencil, hold it up to the edge of the unit, and draw a pencil line down the wall. Pull the unit away from the wall, look at the two lines you’ve made and measure the distance between them. Write down that measurement.

Now that you have that measurement, you need to transfer it to the backside of the wardrobe. To do this, turn the unit so the backside is facing you. Pull a tape measure from the edge of the unit to the distance you wrote down and with a pencil “X” mark the spot on the backside of the wardrobe (do this toward the top of the unit)—this spot is where you will need to drill the hole that will lineup with the stud when the unit is back in position against the wall! Are you with me?

Drill a small hole through your “X” mark on the backside of the wardrobe. Position the unit against the wall, lining up the wardrobe with the unit’s edge line you marked a couple of steps ago. From the inside of the wardrobe, drive a wood screw and washer through the hole and into the stud. Voila, you’re wardrobe is secured!

If your wardrobe comes with an anti-tip bracket that fastens to the interior of the unit, and you find when the unit’s in place it doesn’t land on a stud (very likely) here’s what you do… put the wardrobe in place, then through the existing hole (put there by the manufacturer) mark that spot on the wall.

Pull the unit away from the wall and tap in an anchor on that spot. Position the unit in place, then screw in the bracket, through to the anchor.

“I have a couple of cracked tiles in my shower and was looking to replace them without doing the whole shower. Any tips for a quick fix?” – Nicony

NV: Nicony wants a quick fix for cracked tiles. I got plenty of quick fixes! I love quickies… but only when they don’t band-aid an issue and end up causing a bigger problem over time.

cracked tileCase in point… fine cracks in shower tiles can simply be filled in with a matching grout. Presto, crack gone! However, if the crack has already allowed water to penetrate behind it and the tile has started to loosen, the tile may look fine on the outside, but behind it, the wall is likely decaying and growing mold, which will eventually damage the surrounding wall, and tiles will drop out.

In order for this quickie to last longie timie, examine the tile and make sure it’s glued tight by pressing along the edges to see if it moves. Take a sniff too… because if a bit of mold has started to grow behind there it will have a mildew odor. If that’s the case, let it dry out completely. Don’t use the shower for a full day, and also blow dry it for several minutes.

Once it’s dry, use a grout float to smear matching grout over the crack, pressing firmly, so the grout fills in the crack. Gently wipe down the face of the tile with a large damp sponge. Let it dry, then with a soft cloth, buff the face of the tile, wiping away any powdery residue.

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Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of next week’s Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.


Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.