Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Killer Bees? NO! Fleas? MAYBE! Mold? ABSOLUTELY!!!!

So. It has been a long rough day. Let me start the story in the wee hours of the night saayyyy, 4 a.m. Some people may call that early morning for for me it is smack dab in the middle of the night. Anyway.... I woke up at around 4 a.m. and I was absolutely positive that a hive of killer bees was living in the wall of the Airstream right above my head. I could even HEAR them. I was awake.... and I could HEAR them. Or so I thought at that moment. In reality I heard nothing because there are no bees in the wall. I guess I dreamed it. Or maybe I am for real crazy.... but there are no bees. So I eventually went back to sleep. When I next woke it was 8 a.m. and Billy was already up which means that Rudy should have been let out of his crate and should have jumped up in the bed with me. He was nowhere to be seen. So I asked "Where is Rudy?" Well, Rudy was down on the floor writhing in agony nibbling at his haunches and scratching like mad. Fleas. I immediately assumed it was fleas. It had to be fleas right? So I jumped up and looked him over and sure enough he has little red bumps all over his belly and feet. Great.

I went to the ranch supply in Vacaville and grabbed flea shampoo and a new box of Frontline. I HATE putting that crap on my dog but sometimes you have to just give in and do it. When I got home we went to pull all the sheets off the bed because we were going to wash the living shit out of all our stuff to make sure if it IS fleas we get rid of the little bastards right quick. In the process of peeling the bed we discovered an even worse surprise. Mold. The wooden platform our mattress rests on was covered in mold. Fabulous. WTF? It was suddenly like a scene from one of those ebola movies where people in huge white hazmat suits were wandering in and out like space men. Or... I wished that those guys were here. In their absence WE were going to have to deal with this increasingly sucky mess ourselves. Yuck.

I spent the entire day wallowing in bleach and flea products. Today probably shaved a few years off my life. We have a clean dog who is no longer itching. We never did see a single flea on him or in the bath water so who knows.... maybe he got in to a nest of fire ants again or something and there never even were any fleas. But at any rate if any fleas try to get up in here now they will not pass GO and collect $500, they will go straight to broke ass flea heaven.

On to the issue of the mold. We freaked out and cleaned the entire area with undiluted bleach. I have no idea of this is actually the right course of action but it is what we did. I called an Airstream dealership about two hours from here and made an appointment for tomorrow to bring the trailer in and have the wooden platform and hopefully the mattress replaced. We will probably have to wait for the mattress to be shipped but I think they can probably replace the platform pretty easily. The whole mess is stemming from a leak we had in the wall a few weeks ago (during a rainstorm of course) which has since been fixed but apparently enough water got in to cause this kind of damage. And it is also stemming from the fact that three nights ago after reading another Airstreamers blog who was talking about a bunch of repair work they had to have done I went ahead and boasted OUT LOUD about how lucky we have been in not having too many problems with this thing. DING DING DING! We have a winner! One heavy dose of green fuzzyness comin' right at ya! Yeah.... me and my big mouth.

So, tomorrow we drive out mid state to this dealership, drop off the trailer then immediately leave to drive back out to Carmel where we have an appointment to look at a spot on private land where we could potentially live for awhile. We will stay in a hotel in Carmel tomorrow night then drive back up to see what progress has been made with fixing the bed platform. We literally have like three weeks left on our original factory warranty so everyone cross your fingers, toes and eyes for us that they go ahead and fix all this on warranty. It could get ugly. They may have to tear open the wall to see if any mold damage has been done on the interior. If that happens care packages of Valium, wine and cash would be greatly appreciated.

I will let ya know what happens.....


Rich Luhr said...

You've just found the #1 killer of Airstreams: rain leaks. Next time it rains, go through every corner and crevice of the trailer (especially behind/under things, inside cabinets, etc) with a flashlight and a paper towel. Any dampness picked up the paper towel or visible moisture that sparkles in the flashlight indicates a leak or serious condensation problem. You might have gotten on leak, but mold requires consistent heavy moisture, so my concern is that you might have more than one ... it's not unusual. Caulk is your friend. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

We had the same problem winter living (for three weeks in New Mexico) We had mold on the bed plywood and underside of the mattress. We found no leaks. Under our bed is mainly unheated storage. We think the mold was due to the heated trailer warm, moist air meeting the plywood sheet which is dry and cold. This trapped moisture had no opportunity to dry out unless you lift the mattress daily. No air circulation and no drying is a perfect environment for mold and fungus.

We think a fix is installing foam insulation to match the shape of the bed plywood. This would mean taking off the plywood, cutting the 3/4 to 1 inch (or whatever will work) foam insulation and replacing it all. Since we have not done winter camping since then, we have not done this fix so it is only a theory right now. Another idea would be to add a small dehumidifier to dry the air.

Make sure that you get that bleach scrubbed plywood and mattress really clean and dry--especially dry or the mold will return.

Hope this provides some ideas for you.


Bethany said...

Hi Rich.... Yeeahhhhhh.... LEAKS. Like I said in the post I knew I jinxed us the other day when I said we had been unusually lucky in not having too many problems. Leaks I can handle (in theory) it's the mold that I cannot (in reality.) We had to reschedule our appointment at the dealership until Monday. Rudy got sick on the Frontline so we decided to wait a few days before going anywhere.

Thanks for the advice on the paper towel, flashlight trick. If it EVER rains again here in California we will do it. For sure. It will be interesting to see what results we get. We already caulked up two leaks we had over the front windows that ruined our curtains. We have had no problems up there since.

I will let you know what we find on Monday when we talk to the dealership.

CARYL... I am so glad to hear that we are not alone in having this happen! We are talking about different ways to ensure air flow under the mattress after we get the trailer checked out on Monday. Airstream really needs to consider incorporating at least a thin box springs under their mattresses to keep this from being a problem. I think you are totally right about the warm meets cold air thing though.... we have had some COLD nights this winter where the walls got damp because they were SO cold and our space heater inside was keeping the air warm. Condensation was the result. Thanks so much for the suggestions and the moldy comradery!