Mold under sink

I had a leak under the sink and have to fix my neighbors ceiling etc.

Under my sink is bad quality pressed wood. I’m sure that it has got mold. It is still musty now.

What should I do about the possible mold, the odor, etc?

If it is in the walls or pressed wood, rip them out and re-build them.

If it is just on the surface, apply Concrobium.

How do you evaluate a situation like that? By look, smell, are there products to test for mold types? The water leaked down to the next floor. Couldn’t there be mold between floors?

Personally, I’m not good at building. I can fix, but I can’t build. What I’d do, at least to start, is spray a bleach solution on the particle board, really soak it in, so it chases the dampness into the wood. It may help stop the mold.
Also, before that, I’d empty the cabinet and leave it open with a fan blowing into it for a few days in an attempt to dry it out and then put a few containers of damp-rid (with the doors closed) in there.

This is where I’d start before ripping out the wood, which I’d consider the nuclear option. If you can get it to dry out, the mold (and smell) should stop. You may even consider drilling a handful of 1 inch holes in it to help air circulate under it. This will also help to dry the subfloor if it’s still wet.

Great advice.

if its particle board that’s been soaked, it’s already nuked, there is or will be swelling, warping and buckling, possibly to the extent that it can actually move cabinets and break counter tops. For anything particle board, usually best bet is just to replace and save the expense of trying to save only to have to replace anyway. and Mold gets deep into the interior of the particle board. if the board was made in the US environmental regulations (iirc) prohibit the use of growth inhibitors such as formaldehyde in the “glue” used to make pressboard and instead a gluten based “glue” is used. If I Recall Correctly that is.

I am a carpenter that currently does insurance work, fixing damage from kitchen leaks is something I do all the time. Fixing a cabinet base (and/or sides) in place is fairly advanced carpentry, we have had several carpenters that attempted it and were not up to it. Fixing their mess did not make the job easier for me. Replacing the whole cabinet requires removal and reinstall of sink, countertop, re-plumbing and probably replacing the backsplash, and major kitchen disturbance. Many restoration companies will do all this rather than try to fix the cabinet in place. I recommend that you do not attempt it yourself unless you really know what you are doing, which I assume you don’t due to your choice of terminology.

This is what insurance is for, if you own you must have it, if you rent you still should get it (content insurance is pretty affordable). I’ve seen a lot of renters lose everything they own, its heart breaking. If you have insurance make a claim, if you do not have insurance you can at least get it dried out and stabilized yourself.

You need to get everything dried out completely, which means lots of air. Take off the doors and empty the cabinet if you haven’t already and get fans blowing on it. You will probably need them on a good 24 hrs to really get it dry. You are going to have to take the toe kick off and get air under the cabinet, drill big holes in the kick if necessary.

When it is all dry you have to treat every thing with anti-biological agent. You can get this stuff at the hardware store, Bac-Stop is one but there are many others. Bleach is better than nothing but will not do the job.

To do this properly you have to check the flooring and wall for water damage and mold, and replace those if necessary. This is not a small job, so hopefully the cabinet is all that is damaged. If you can get it dried out and treated, that may be all you really need to do until you are ready to replace the cabinet. I rarely see cabinets where the particleboard itself is moldy. Usually it just swells and bubbles the melamine and looks ugly. Ugly cabinet base can be reasonably ‘fixed’ with some cabinet liner/paper.

Good luck.

I had a similar leak once. I let it dry out. That’s it. There was no meaningful damage and no mold. The particleboard crap that made up the floor under the sink was a bit warped, and still is, but I don’t care. You might need to do absolutely nothing once it dries out and you handle the mustiness.

Thanks. So I might want to get a professional opinion about the damage? If I make a claim with a $500 deductible I don’t know if this is trivial or not. I also don’t have any expertise to get under the cabinet, or inside the floor. Is this necessary, IYO?

(I also have stains from a condensing pipe above my bedroom, that my condo association is responsible for. The only way to check the pipes would be to open the ceiling I think. How would you determine whether you wanted to do something that radical? It’s pipe shaped and has been stable for a year. Does one worry about mold here?)

I know that other under boards are warped, not under the sink. Under the sink is blackish on the surface of the board. It’s been a month or two since the leak was fixed. I aired it out but not to the extent you are saying.

Also who do you think I could go to to get a professional appraisal, if it’s appropriate. How do you find them? The guy doing the work in-house is a little too close the association and probably cavalier about damage.


The appraiser for the insurance company makes the call as far as the extent of the work to be done. Usually they meet one of our people on site to define the scope of work if it isn’t obvious.

If it is only damage to the bottom of the cabinet you are looking at maybe only $1500 of work, if there is mold that all has to be cut out and replaced and the price can go up accordingly. You have to look at your deductible and decide if it is worth it. You can always have the appraiser come out and decide later. No work is going to be done until you sign off.

As far as checking for mold, get in there with a flashlight and look in any existing openings for plumbing etc and maybe you can see something. If that doesnt work, usually the toe kick (base of cabinet) has a finish kick that you can carefully remove. Under that you will find the rough kick which you can cut a hole in and use to examine the floor and maybe the the wall behind. If it’s black or green and fuzzy or spotty you have got mold. The mold treatments will kill it but moldy material should still be removed. If the dishwasher is close it may be worthwhile to pull it and get a look at the floor.

If you need to check the ceiling or other drywall, the appraiser or contractor will have a moisture sensor that does the job without cutting holes. You can also try calling the city health department. Here they will send an inspector out to check for mold or moisture, but be aware if they find any they will probably issue a demand for repairs with a deadline. This may be to your advantage if dealing with condo property.

A lot of what FluffyBob says is correct. I worked in the disaster clean up/restoration industry for a while as a certified mold technician as well as doing structural drying. DO NOT USE HOUSEHOLD BLEACH we did use a chlorine bleach on mold but it was something like 30 or 40% chlorine to water and required personal protective equipment. household bleach is something like 90-95% water and all you are doing is flashing the surface and worsening the problem.(those percentages may not be correct, flying by the seat of my memory, but they are in the ball park) If you file a claim with insurance, you will meet the $500 deductible almost instantly. Look here for the people closest to you who can help you. Or go with the top 3 on the list of service providers the insurance adjustor gives you. Those firms have the advantage of being vetted to meet your insurance co. standards and MOST insurance companies will add their own warranty to the warranty provided by the service provider as long as you pick from their list of preferred providers. IICRC certification is what you want to see and be able to verify though for whoever comes in to do any work

If you do file a claim, file it for water damage ONLY as many insurance companies will deny any claim containing language like microbial growth or mold or vegetative growth or anything like that, I don’t know why.

Hi guys, thanks.

So the damage below the sink is certain to be over $500, no matter what it looks like? For instance if it is not too warped, but is black, musty and needs maintenance at least. (And remember I have my downstairs neighbors ceiling) This is more serious than I thought in other words.

Can I claim for something that appears to be water damage (warping) that is not under the sink or appears to be from before I owned the condo?

It looks to me like I have been naive on calling the city. Sounds like I should just have them come in.

I assume my bedroom ceiling is not moist because the stain has been stable for a year now. But then again who knows what happens next. I wonder if I could make them do something about the pipes or would it be unreasonable.

well, if you file a claim and the adjustor thinks it is a valid claim, then, roughly $1500 to $2500 would be the starting estimate for the services of a water damage remediation job just based on your description here. Keep in mind that this is based on only my experience doing this work for only one franchise of a nationwide company, 10 years ago. That estimate above tries to include the restoration part of it, but doesn’t always work out that way. And yeah, apartments/condos/multifamily structures are always tons of fun, for everyone. BTW is this a bathroom sink or kitchen sink? Guessing bathroom?

Erm the ceiling, how many levels are there in this building? (you mentioned pipes) is there another unit above you or just roof? If just roof, that would be something for the building maintence people to have a look at because there is a possibility of roof damage. You could confer with the insurance folks about it but I would think it would be a separate claim perhaps.

It’s a kitchen sink. And very “depreciated.” Wonder if they’ll have a problem with that: “That’s previous damage”.

I’m on the top floor. The stain is in a long line perp with the room, and hasn’t changed in a year. Just doesn’t seem to be a leak. There is another small one 4 feet away parallel to it. Noone I talked to has seen what’s behind it. It’s a guess.

The condo assoc is paying for my ceiling paint job. I could have someone come in with a sensor for moisture but I probably won’t bother. I just don’t want to do this again.

sounds like there is a intermittent leak in the roof then somewhere, not necessarily above the room where the stain shows either. water tends to travel a bit.

This is where we start getting into a lot of speculation, a lot depends on info we don’t have (what does your insurance policy say) and what the adjustor decides.
For the insurance, sorta depends, home owners insurance *generally *insures the house to be in good condition and inhabitable, and will pay to return it to that state in the event of an accident. YOU are responsible for normal maintenance and repair (ie. you have to pay for the plumber to fix the leak that caused the damage) The depends part is the adjustor and what that person thinks. Most adjustors in my experience are very knowledgable and some even specialize in just water and/or fire damage. If the sink itself is still in good working order and just the cabinet under the counter needs repair or replaced, The adjustor will make the call on what and how much to pay for. Don’t be afraid to ask the adjustor questions, what can be incuded in the claim, things like the repair process caused a large spike in your power bill that month, or you can’t live in the home while the repair is happening, increased food costs since you can’t use your kitchen while the repair is happening, things like that used to be and may still be compensated in the claim.
Anyway, if you file a claim, talk to the adjustor, ask questions, don’t be hostile, (s)he’s not your enemy (s)he’s your friend and is sort of trying pay for a remodel on your kitchen for you.

the warping not under the sink that was previous damage, where is not under the sink? is it near the sink? Hard to say if the insurance will pay for that or not, depending on location and extent of repairs needed overall, it may get repaired out of necessity to the entire scope of work needed.

Do you think that there isn’t a pipe above my room that is condensing water, then? I just assumed there was. Maybe it was after a roof repair?

The other warping is under the other counter in the kitchen. On reflection they will say it’s another claim, another $500. It’s just particle board.

mmmaybe, maybe not, it sort of depends on the type of floor in the kitchen, is it linoleum, laminate/pergo, tile etc. Does the flooring go clear under the cabinet/counter or just the underlayment? Again, this is just speculation, the possibility exists far as I can tell from over here that they may replace the entire floor as a necessary part of the over-all repair. This, in turn, may or may not involve moving the counter to replace any flooring or underlayment for the flooring that goes under it.

As far as the roof and ceiling, I dunno, can’t tell without getting up there and looking at what is between the ceiling and roof. Why would there be a water line up there if you are on the top level? Is there a fire suppression system in this building? Solar panels for heating water perhaps? But my first wag is either an improperly done re-roof or roof repair. Possibly combined with a flat or very gently sloped roof over some portion of the building? Something that has some sort of façade or lip that would allow some water to collect?

I’ve hogged the convo here, but I’m pretty sure FluffyBob has actually better info, since it sounds like he’s still doing that sort of work and repair work and I’m not.

missed the edit window,
if the insurance declines the claim for the buckled underlayment under the other counter, depending on how long (how many cabinets) the counter is, if you are somewhat handy, or know someone who is, it can be pretty simple (I’m not going to say easy) to replace the underlayment under the affected portion of the counter. Actually just the portions the counter sits on are all that need to be replaced. what needs to be removed to do this is another story, but I’ve done that sort of thing before myself. NOTE, this is actually more involved than it seems, even though it is relatively simple.

This I am sure FluffyBob will comment on, since this is specifically his bailiwick to start with