DEAR BARRY: Our laundry is located on the second floor, directly adjacent to the bathroom. Whenever I run the dryer, the bathroom becomes very humid if the door is shut. I’ve also noticed something like black soot on the bathroom walls. I wash it off, but it always comes back. What could be causing the humidity and the soot, and what can I do to resolve this? –Debbie

DEAR DEBBIE: Here are two possibilities: The vent duct for the clothes dryer may be connected to the bathroom vent duct in the attic. This would allow steam from the clothes dryer to enter the bathroom through the ceiling vent.

Another possibility is that the dryer vent duct is disconnected inside the wall or ceiling of the bathroom. This would cause the moisture from your clothes to vent into the wall or ceiling cavities, raising the humidity in that room.

Another concern is that the "soot" on the walls could actually be black mold, caused by the excessive moisture condition. If so, this would raise health concerns for your family.

To evaluate and resolve this situation, three things need to be done:

1) A licensed contractor should investigate the path of the dryer vent to determine whether it is disconnected or not properly vented to the exterior. According to these findings, the dryer vent should be corrected.

2) The wood framing should be inspected to determine whether moisture exposure has caused fungus infection and dryrot.

3) The area should be evaluated by a qualified mold inspector to determine if mold is the problem and if mold remediation is needed. Air samples should be taken from wall cavities to determine whether there is mold behind the drywall.

DEAR BARRY: My dishwasher was leaking for a long time. I didn’t realize it till the wood flooring began to buckle. The washer hasn’t been used for several months now, but the floor still looks bad. I’d like to have everything repaired but can’t find anyone who will do the whole job. One guy wants to repair the floor but won’t deal with the dishwasher. Another guy says the flooring can be flattened if I use a dehumidifier. This is very distressing. What should I do? –Maria

DEAR MARIA: You could probably find a general contractor who would undertake the entire job, but why pay for a middleman when you have two entirely unrelated repairs? First, you need an appliance technician to fix or replace the dishwasher. Then you need a flooring contractor to repair or replace the buckled floorboards. A general contractor could hire both of these people and oversee their work, but this would simply increase the cost of the project, with no tangible benefit to you.

As for the recommendation to use a dehumidifier: This is unlikely to restore the condition of the wood flooring. When floorboards have been damaged by moisture, they usually don’t return to their original condition. If you haven’t used the dishwasher for months, the flooring is probably as dry as it is likely to become. If it is still buckled, replacement may be the only solution.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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