One of the areas in the bathroom that gets dingy and dirty looking is the area around the tub where it meets the tile, especially in a bathroom with a tub and shower combination. Before caulking a tub again, peel or scrape away the old caulk, particularly when the caulk has developing mold and mildew. Caulking the tub is important to keep moisture from getting behind the tub and causing more serious and long-lasting mold or mildew damage.
Removing old tub caulking prevents mold and mildew from spreading and getting elsewhere. Cracks often develop in caulking because of the natural expansion and contraction a house undergoes as it experiences changes through the seasons. Cracks formed where the humidity is high, such as in a bathroom, are an open invitation for mold and mildew to grow, often out of sight. To prevent this, remove caulking at least every 18 months, and replace it with new caulking. If cracks, mold or mildew appear before regular maintenance, remove caulking and replace it immediately.
Removing Old Caulking
Wear protective gloves, and use a putty knife to remove old caulk and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag, especially if covered with mold. If the caulk is excessively moldy, wear a protective face mask to keep from inhaling mold spores. After removing the caulk, use paint thinner on a rag to eliminate any resistant caulk, and wipe the area clean with a dry rag. To disinfect the mold before and after caulk removal, mix together 1 qt. of liquid chlorine beach with 3 qt. of warm water and add 1/3 cup of laundry detergent. Place the mixture inside a spray bottle, and spray the affected area. Once the mildew or mold turns white, wipe it down with a clean rag until dry.
If you notice the new caulk pulls away from the tub sooner than its required maintenance, fill the tub half full of water before caulking around the tub. Tubs often shift with water and body weight, so caulking when the weight is in place helps to keep the caulk in place the rest of the time. After the area is clean, ensure that it is dry before running a caulk bead around the tub. Use your index finger to run along the edge of the wet caulk to ensure it seals properly and has a finished look.
Keeping humidity down in the home and the bathroom are important if you are concerned about mold and mildew buildup. Open the bathroom window slightly when showering or put on the bathroom ventilation fan to move some of the humidity and steam out of the room. Wipe down shower walls after showering.
Mold and Health Problems
Keeping the caulk free of mildew and mold is important when you want to keep your family healthy. When mold and mildew get into the walls of a home, people are prone to get sick. Dangers are associated with mold and mildew; in a pamphlet titled "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" by the Environmental Protection Act, the EPA says that "molds produce allergens -- substances that can cause allergic reactions -- irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances -- mycotoxins. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals."