So I noticed some time ago that when it rained mold would spring up in the corner of Ally's room. I treated this a couple of times with bleach and kept an eye on it. I knew at some point though that I was going to have to find the problem.
I forgot about it for a while until this fall when it rained for about a month with few breaks. One day I went in and was horrified to find big black flowers of mold climbing up the wall. This was not like the last time I had treated a little spot or two. This looked viral, if you can use such a word in this situation. It looked bad. It looked like flocked flowers, big furry circles of black mold and it was far bigger than before. I touched the wall and found it soaking wet. I reached down, and with far too much ease, ripped a piece of the wall off. I could not BELIEVE what I found behind the wall.
It was dirt. solid jam packed behind the Sheetrock and it was soaking wet. I pulled off more Sheetrock and scooped out some of the dirt. Now anybody in their right minds at this point would probably go get some gloves and a mask. But no, not me! I got into it then, really ripping off the Sheetrock.
It's kind of hard to describe what was behind the dirt. If you have been following my blog you will know that I have spent several years renovating my older daughter's room, right on the other side of this wall. Her room, behind the Sheetrock and paneling was lined with hundred year old green masonry on top of the exterior brick. No lathe, no structure, no framing, just exterior brick and then the green masonry and then paneling or Sheetrock. The green masonry all over their two rooms (used to be the old house's garage before being converted into bedrooms by previous owners) is crumbling and falling apart.
That was exactly what was happening behind the wall when I pulled off the Sheetrock. When I pulled out all the dirt I could see the green wall completely crumbling like sand. It was soaking wet and falling off. I could touch it and it would fall off. I decided to remove as much of the loose stuff as I could as far up as I could and use a mortar patch to fix it. I did a lot of that in my older daughter's room, so I am somewhat experienced. I pulled it off to a height of about five feet until I reached solid masonry that wasn't wet. Now what? I stood back and looked at it. I could see all the way out to the front yard through the exterior brick in several places. I had to patch that, but there was no way to reach all the way back to the brick, because the holes were kind of far back in a narrow slot next to the window casing. It was predicted to be a sunny week so I placed a fan in front of the area and left it for a few days to dry out before I did anything else and plus I needed time to think. Meanwhile my hands were stinging like crazy. It felt like I had glass in my hands. This went on for a couple of hours. It wasn't unbearable, it was just uncomfortable and I wished I had worn gloves. I never did figure out why that happened.
But back to the story:
When I began to pull off the Sheetrock next to the window casing I realized there was something weird going on. The trim around the window was paper thin. I accidentally pulled some off while removing the Sheetrock. Since I broke it I pulled the whole thing off and then realized that whoever put up the drywall didn't know how to end it gracefully so they covered up the original window casing with drywall and constructed a fake casing made of what looked like balsa wood around the window!
The actual window frame is much bigger than it appears!
So I was turning things over in my mind, planning to fix this problem this way, and planning things that way, but I really didn't know how I was going to get down in those deep cracks. I thought I might have to stick a caulking gun way back in there from the inside and caulk those holes and then let that dry and then fill in as much as I could with new mortar. Then I thought I might go outside with some mortar repair and work on the outside.
As I was mulling it over my husband came in the room and stood with me and then gave me a compliment which put a smile on my face. He said "you know, if this was five years ago and I saw this mess I would be really upset but I'm not worried. I know you can fix it."
Then he said something which I can only say was genius. He said "Why don't you get some expandable foam." Then the light went on in my head. "THAT'S IT"! I shouted at him. "YOU'RE A GENIUS!"
So I immediately went to the hardware store and bought some cans of expandable foam and proceeded to fill in all those nooks and crannys. That's where I am today on this project. I have to get a new blade for my sawzall and then we are going to cut some Sheetrock and get her wall fixed back up. But I have some niggling worrisome thoughts. I wonder what else is lurking behind that wall...