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mold forms on cords, knobs, and tool handles

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by micky, Feb 27, 2013.

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  1. micky

    micky Guest

    My shop is in my basement, which has always seemed to be a very dry
    floor. However, about 4% of my cords, my spare radio and tv knobs,
    and the handles of my tools get a think layer of some sort of mold on
    them. It's like a grey dust. (Or some other light color, I forget.)

    I wasg them in the dishwasher and they come out clean, but once in the
    basement again, after a few months, U notice that the same ones have
    mold. And the rest never get mold.

    I suppose I could just ignore this, since it doesn't spread, but I
    wonder if any of you have ideas. No other part of my house is neat
    or clean, but the shop is the most important place, and I'd like it to
    be clean.

  2. mike

    mike Guest
  3. N_Cook

    N_Cook Guest

    So what are your lungs like?
    Wasn't the biblical plague of deaths of the first-born sons put down to the
    premium food reserved for the first-born sons, stored in the basement, being
    contaminated with ergot or some-such mold
  4. Doug

    Doug Guest

    Hope you wear some kind of protection when you're in your basement.
    This doesn't sound good to me over time for your lungs, etc... .

    Probably need more information about the basement such as what's done
    there, does this occur only in one area or all over, humidity level,
    etc... . You said the rest of the house is not clean so I wonder if
    there is a connection to the basement?
  5. I wash them in the dishwasher and they come out clean,
    I'm wondering whether it's plasticizer migrating to the surface.

    You might try putting the "susceptible" items in plastic bags and sealing them
    tightly. I wouldn't be surprised if the "mold" continues to form.
  6. micky

    micky Guest

    Welll, sometimes I just watch TV, sometimes I make a fire in the
    fireplace, most of the time I work on electric projects in the
    "family" room and wood or metal projects in the laundry room, fright
    next to it.
    I think it's all over the basement, but I guess there are only 2 or 3
    areas where those three things are kept. There is a dresser at the
    far side of the room, the back end of the house. I keep a lot of
    knobs in one of the drawers -- knobs that go back to the 1930's but
    mostly I think it's those from the 50's and 60's that get moldy -- and
    4 or 5% get "moldy". I put it in quotes this time because I've been
    assuming it's mold. It's some sort of dust like stuff, that I can
    wipe off with my fingers, but I use the dishwasher because it gets
    into the cracks and crevices. .

    There is t he pair of little dressers that hold my work bench, in the
    middle of the house, near the base of the stairs. That has tools in
    one of the drawers and in the In-basket at the far end, plus some
    bananan plug jumper wires that get moldy. Thiese 8" jumpers were two
    of the few cords that got moldy. Mostly it's knobs and tools. .
    (Tools with yellow plastic handles are some of the moldy handles, but
    not every yellow plastic handle.)

    And about 18 months ago I set up the new computer in the basement so I
    could use it to fix the old computer (which needed a new cpu.). So I
    do that stuff down here too.
    I think the humidity is about 30% in the summer. Lower now. (I"ll
    get a meter and measure it , sicne you ask) But I'll say this. WRT
    water spilled on the laundry room floor, some of it soaks into the
    cement quickly and the rest evaportates within 12 to 24 hours (even
    when there is a lot of water from the laundry sink over flowing, or
    the hose to the washing machine springing a leak) and the cement
    itself dries out in less than 12 hours. I used to make a point of
    taking the laudry upstairs as soon as it was done, but one time I
    forgot and since then I've noticed that it can sit in the washing
    machine wet, for days, without getting moldy or smellilng bad, and can
    alos sit in the dryer only partly dried for days and it smells just
    the way freshly dried laundry should smell.

    20 years ago after one of the bigger leaks, some mold grew on a
    sheetrocked wall, but I killed it with bleach and then painted it
    over, and that was the end of that.
    I was mostly making a joke. The rest of the house isn't that dirty,
    and anyhow, it was clean for 15 or 20 years and I still had the moldy
    cords, tools, and knobs in the basement. Two or three times I've
    gathered them together and washed them in the washing machine. I
    don't pay close attention, but they all turn moldy again, in less than
    a year, probably less than 3 months.

    I'm not worried about my health. Some mold is bad for all of the
    people some of the time, and some for some of the people all of the
    time , and some doesn't bother some people any of the time, and
    whatever I've got here has never bothered me in the 30 years I've
    lived here. And I'm the only one living here now. I'm just
    getting tired of having moldy things.
  7. micky

    micky Guest

    So you mean clean them first and then do this? OKay, I'll try it.
    It will take a few days at least to start the test and up to a month
    or three to wait for resutls, but I'll get back to you. At least I
    sincerely plan to.

    Thanks to both of you and all of you.
  8. willshak

    willshak Guest

    micky wrote the following on 2/27/2013 2:21 AM (ET):
    What kind of handles do these tools have? Steel, plastic, rubber, wood?
    You say these things have a 'dust like' layer. Could it be brushed off,
    or has to be washed off in a dishwasher?
    I know many of my tool handles get a gray or dark covering after a
    while, but I attribute it to an accumulation of dead skin cells from my
    This could also be attributed to the handling of the TV knobs.
    I don't know about the 'mold' on the cords.
    All my tools are in an attached garage.
    I doubt whether this is mold if there is no other mold in the basement.
  9. Doug

    Doug Guest

    I used to think like you ... that my body was pretty strong (and it
    was) but lately I'm experiencing things that never used to be so I
    think age is the culprit. My point is that even if your body was
    strong against the mold before, it may change with your age now. And
    it may be too late after you begin to notice it. Sorry if I seem
    overly concerned but I've had to deal with Cancer patients going to
    the doctor, etc... .
  10. micky

    micky Guest

    No, I appreciate your concern. If you were my mother, I'd be annoyed,
    but she never knew when to stop.
  11. micky

    micky Guest

    Good questions. I'll look at all the stuff again and get back to you.
    Within 24 hours I hope.

  12. tuinkabouter

    tuinkabouter Guest

    Try to store it in a plastic bag together with a package desiccant
    (Silica gel).
  13. chaniarts

    chaniarts Guest

    the usual culprits are ozone or uv rays.
  14. Guest

    Your explanation makes more semse than "mold". The OP did not say
    what type of handles or tools were/were not affected, or if the tools
    were in a dark airless corner or out in plain sight, etc, so we really
    need more information.
  15. Red

    Red Guest

    I also have a parts drawer with an assortment of old knobs and I
    recently had the same experience you have. Out of an assortment of
    about 25 there were 6 that had an off white coating similar to mold.
    The coated knobs were identical and appeared to come off the same
    piece of old test equipment. The rest of the knobs were perfectly
    normal. Thinking they were moldy I soaked them overnight in a clorox
    solution and it didn't phase them. So it definitely wasn't mold. But
    with soapy water and a old toothbrush they cleaned easily so I
    determined it was an old plastic compound reaction.

    Contrary to what some are saying I don't think you have a health
    problem in your dry basement.

    Some Craftsman tools with plastic handles left in a car trunk or hot
    toolbox for a long time often get real stinky. That again is the type
    plastic they use and giving them a soapy bath usually helps a lot.
  16. Doug

    Doug Guest

    My adult daughters say the same about me :-(
  17. Bill Rotham

    Bill Rotham Guest

    micky wrote on Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500:

    micky wrote on Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500:
    Does it look like this?

    Or this?

    The former I always attributed to some kind of persistent "moldy"
    like white paste (which I've long ago painstakingly scraped off
    handle that tool you see in the picture so that only remnants remain)

    The other is on my pool pump - which - you can imagine - isn't
    mold but a white chemical covering (calcium carbonate?).

    So, the first question, is whether it's a mold or a chemical?
    Note: I don't know the answer for either of my tools above.
  18. Brian Berg

    Brian Berg Guest

    Does it look like this?

    Or this?

    The former I always attributed to some kind of persistent "moldy"
    like white paste (which I've long ago painstakingly scraped off
    handle that tool you see in the picture so that only remnants remain)

    The other is on my pool pump - which - you can imagine - isn't
    mold but a white chemical covering (calcium carbonate?).

    So, the first question, is whether it's a mold or a chemical?
    Note: I don't know the answer for either of my tools above.
  19. Brian Berg

    Brian Berg Guest

    That's exactly my experience.

    The plastic on the handles was coated with a thin white layer
    which I could scrape off with a sharp tool (the results in
    that picture are of a screwdriver scraped years ago, but some
    of the persistent white stuff is still on the handle, in spots).

    I don't know WHAT it is!

    Like you experienced, it wouldn't 'wash' off and chlorine bleach
    didn't faze it (of course, if it 'is' mold, it would be dead but
    still there if bleach did kill it, since it's white).

    I don't know if it's a "mold" or a "chemical".
    It does seem to 'infect' other tools - but both a mold and a chemical
    'can' do that (think hydrochloric acid).
  20. Brian Berg

    Brian Berg Guest

    That's EXACTLY what this screwdriver USED to look like!

    So, whatever it is, it's common.

    Again, I don't know if it is a mold or a chemical.
    It does NOT happen to all tools of the same type.

    It just happens to select tools which were stored in a
    different environment (I think my affected screwdrivers
    were used when I worked at a hospital on oxygen respirators).
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