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After several stormy and rainy days; wetness and mold began to appear on the walls. The mold quickly spread to all of the rooms in the apartment. It did not happen in the summer so it is probably related to the rain. However, the apartment is on the ground floor in a 4 story building. It is probably not from the roof. I have some questions:

First, is there anything to do in the short term to detect and fix the problem? Second, I am planning a massive remodel. I am removing some inner walls and installing new piping. Will this solve the problem? Could there be a different problem that will not be solved even with a remodel?

Here are some pictures of the walls:

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    Apartment caught my eye, if you don't own the property don't start taking wall finishes down or you could end up in trouble. Report the problem to the superintendent or land lord. You really have no idea where the water is coming from and this could turn into a very expensive job but a dehumidifier would help get rid of the moisture. – Ed Beal Feb 7 at 14:52
  • @EdBeal I do own the apartment... – Erel Segal-Halevi Feb 7 at 14:56
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    I would still report the problem as you can repair the finish surfaces and the next big rain or possibly leaking toilet, or other problem above you it will happen again. In several of your photos I see what looks to me to be earlier repairs, where there are spider cracks and the surface looks blotchy. If I was going to fix this I would want to be able to eliminate or repair the cause of the moisture at a minimum figure out how to seal to prevent a recurrence. – Ed Beal Feb 7 at 15:05
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Mold (mildew) reproduces quickly. Once it starts growing it travels to other areas via the wind current. Once it lands on another surface it will begin growing there and the cycle continues. Mold requires a food source, the correct temperature and most of all it needs moisture. The recent rain might have something to do with it. Most mildew issues are from leaking areas like windows or pipes. Also, leaking roofs and flooring that doesn't dry could cause the issue. Moisture vapor passes through walls and ceilings and condenses on the surface during the winter. In the short term, I would start by buying or renting a dehumidifier to remove the moisture in the air. You should also get a few fans going to help evaporate some of the moisture. Begin wiping down the affected areas with a mildew remover. Bleach water is highly effective. Make sure you wear a mask. Once all of that is accomplished, I would focus on those areas where the surface is peeling. I would say those are points that have had a lot of moisture for a long period of time. I'm not so sure the answer is to start tearing out walls and running new piping. However, that will depend on what the source of the excessive moisture actually is. If you are going to remodel, consider using primer, caulking and finish paint that are mildew resistant. You could even go with a mildew resistant sealer.

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  • First and foremost, you need to fix the underlying problem before worrying about dehumidifiers and refinishing. All of thiis indicates at least one of two possible situations: 1) You have a "hole" somewhere in your building--either in the roof, the basement, the walls or whatever that's letting water in, or 2) You have a "hole" in the plumbing somewhere that's letting water out. Could be both, too. First off, fix the hole(s) and then worry about fixing the walls. Otherwise, you're just chasing your tail.... – Greg Nickoloff Feb 7 at 17:35

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