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Old 09-08-2019, 04:41 PM   #1
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Are buses a breeding ground for mold?

I am wondering how many of you have found mold in your bus.

I recently went to look at a bus that had just come up from Las Vegas Nevada. I thought great, here is a bus that is certain to be mold free. Boy was I wrong. When I showed up I found that the bus was partially gutted. The inner panels were off the walls, but the insulation bats were still in place, and they had a nice coating of what looked to me like black mold. How could this be? This bus has had spent it’s entire life in the desert. Well I think I know the answer, it has to do with air-conditioning, which would be indispensable in that kind of climate. What I think is happening is that these buses are equipped with industrial-strength air-conditioning that is capable of cooling is buses to the point where the inner wall skins are cool enough that warm moist air from the outside is condensing on the inside of the wall, which causes the insulation bats to become damp which creates the perfect conditions for mold growth. I came to this thinking that buses would be relatively free of mold because they are largely constructed of metal, but apparently whatever they used for insulation in the bus that I was looking at was able to support mold growth.

My thoughts were confirmed when I heard one bus owner talking about how after he insulated his bus with spray foam, the one place he hadn’t insulated, the spot above the windshield where the school bus lights had once resided, Would end up wet with condensation whenever he was running air conditioning.

The reason I am concerned about this is because I am very sensitive to mold. I already have to go to great lengths in the rest of my life to try to avoid mold. If school buses tend to have problems in this area, then I am going to have to find a different hobby.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:58 PM   #2
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I am wondering how many of you have found mold in your bus.

I recently went to look at a bus that had just come up from Las Vegas Nevada. I thought great, here is a bus that is certain to be mold free. Boy was I wrong. When I showed up I found that the bus was partially gutted. The inner panels were off the walls, but the insulation bats were still in place, and they had a nice coating of what looked to me like black mold. How could this be? This bus has had spent it’s entire life in the desert. Well I think I know the answer, it has to do with air-conditioning, which would be indispensable in that kind of climate. What I think is happening is that these buses are equipped with industrial-strength air-conditioning that is capable of cooling is buses to the point where the inner wall skins are cool enough that warm moist air from the outside is condensing on the inside of the wall, which causes the insulation bats to become damp which creates the perfect conditions for mold growth. I came to this thinking that buses would be relatively free of mold because they are largely constructed of metal, but apparently whatever they used for insulation in the bus that I was looking at was able to support mold growth.

My thoughts were confirmed when I heard one bus owner talking about how after he insulated his bus with spray foam, the one place he hadn’t insulated, the spot above the windshield where the school bus lights had once resided, Would end up wet with condensation whenever he was running air conditioning.

The reason I am concerned about this is because I am very sensitive to mold. I already have to go to great lengths in the rest of my life to try to avoid mold. If school buses tend to have problems in this area, then I am going to have to find a different hobby.
FWIW my bus was massively rusty, the result of basically all of the windows leaking and all of the light openings leaking (you can see pics of the situation on my build thread). But not even the tiniest hint of mold anywhere. The bus was from Buffalo and has no air-conditioning, so it's at least one data point in favor of your condensation theory.

I might have preferred mold to the thousands of stink bug corpses that were inside the walls, ceilings and windows. They don't smell until you start welding something near them, and then hoo-boy.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:00 PM   #3
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There can be issues with condensation, but I'd also check to see if that black stuff was mold, or some sort of glue used to hold the batt insulation in place. I remember seeing some pretty gnarly-looking pictures of insulation with glue on it (something like contact cement I think) that was gross, but NOT mold.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:07 PM   #4
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Yes, yes they are. Quite conducive to mold.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:10 PM   #5
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There can be issues with condensation, but I'd also check to see if that black stuff was mold, or some sort of glue used to hold the batt insulation in place. I remember seeing some pretty gnarly-looking pictures of insulation with glue on it (something like contact cement I think) that was gross, but NOT mold.
You raise a good point. I don’t know for sure if what I saw was mold, but in my case I would want to err on the side of caution.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:19 PM   #6
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You raise a good point. I don’t know for sure if what I saw was mold, but in my case I would want to err on the side of caution.
If you're gutting it anyway, just spray a bit if diluted bleach water inside, rinse, build. It's just a metal body once bare. I wouldn't worry much about it unless your intent is to keep the original interior intact.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:39 PM   #7
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If you're gutting it anyway, just spray a bit if diluted bleach water inside, rinse, build. It's just a metal body once bare. I wouldn't worry much about it unless your intent is to keep the original interior intact.
Yes you are quite right. And spray foam insulation pretty much eliminates the problem for the future.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:42 PM   #8
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The insulation in my ceiling had black stuff all over it. It was adhesive to hold the insulation in place.

My bus came out of Western Oregon (wet) and was mold free and had only a bit of surface rust on the back floor.
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:28 PM   #9
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The insulation in my ceiling had black stuff all over it. It was adhesive to hold the insulation in place.

My bus came out of Western Oregon (wet) and was mold free and had only a bit of surface rust on the back floor.
Thanks. That’s good to know. I may have been overreacting at the sight of the black on the insulation I was looking at, but I have to exercise extreme caution.

Judging from where your bus originated, I am guessing that it didn’t have factory air conditioning. Air conditioning is a big factor behind mold growth.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:30 PM   #10
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Thanks. That’s good to know. I may have been overreacting at the sight of the black on the insulation I was looking at, but I have to exercise extreme caution.

Judging from where your bus originated, I am guessing that it didn’t have factory air conditioning. Air conditioning is a big factor behind mold growth.
That's what I didn't like about the blame in the title. The AC is a breeding ground for mold, don't blame it on the bus.
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Old 09-14-2019, 05:10 AM   #11
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Any bus that has been sitting for a long period of time and not completely sealed up will have mold somewhere. Typically it will grow on the seats first, but then you have buses like this...

ex-Canal Winchester Local School District 16 (4) by Cincinnati NKY Buses, on Flickr
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Old 09-14-2019, 05:13 AM   #12
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That's what I didn't like about the blame in the title. The AC is a breeding ground for mold, don't blame it on the bus.
A steel can like a bus is always going to have tons of condensation in it unless mitigated. My gutted bus would sweat profusely all down the ceilings and walls in the summer.
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Old 09-14-2019, 05:26 AM   #13
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The reason I am concerned about this is because I am very sensitive to mold. I already have to go to great lengths in the rest of my life to try to avoid mold. If school buses tend to have problems in this area, then I am going to have to find a different hobby.
Any bus that sits for a long period of time will begin to develop some kind of mold, especially on the vinyl seats.

The easiest way to get rid of the mold is "SODA BLASTING".
Soda blasting the gutted interior of your bus, the soda will kill the mold spores and leave you with clean and shiny smooth metal.

Read here for more info.
https://www.nachi.org/abrasive-blasting.htm

Soda blasting is not cheap but not totally expensive either.

If your gonna paint a metal surface that has been soda blasted you must first neutralize the soda residue on the metal or the paint WILL fail eventually.

So NO, you don't need to find a new hobby, just take the right steps to enjoy this hobby!

Harbor freight has cheap soda blasters but you might do better just contracting the work out. The startup investment for a soda pot, air compressor, personal protection equipment.... might be easier to just contract it out.
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Old 09-14-2019, 06:19 AM   #14
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I put some vinyl seats for a truck that I was working on into storage over the winter. When I looked at them late the next spring, the vinyl parts were moldy. So I am not surprised that bus seats would become moldy. Fortunately these buses are largely made of metal and we can get rid of the seats. For a person like me, that is extremely sensitive to mold, I think the best solution is closed cell, spray foam insulation that adheres to the metal walls inside the bus and forever prevents moist air from coming in contact with them, thereby greatly reducing the condensation problem and making it possible to create a healthy living space.
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Old 09-14-2019, 08:02 AM   #15
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I put some vinyl seats for a truck that I was working on into storage over the winter. When I looked at them late the next spring, the vinyl parts were moldy. So I am not surprised that bus seats would become moldy. Fortunately these buses are largely made of metal and we can get rid of the seats. For a person like me, that is extremely sensitive to mold, I think the best solution is closed cell, spray foam insulation that adheres to the metal walls inside the bus and forever prevents moist air from coming in contact with them, thereby greatly reducing the condensation problem and making it possible to create a healthy living space.
Thats totally the way to go.
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Old 09-14-2019, 01:57 PM   #16
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A steel can like a bus is always going to have tons of condensation in it unless mitigated. My gutted bus would sweat profusely all down the ceilings and walls in the summer.
I had 0 mold in my bus. from the damp PNW.
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Old 09-14-2019, 02:06 PM   #17
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I had 0 mold in my bus. from the damp PNW.
That's just scientifically not possible. There's mold and fungus everywhere, man. Your bus may have been very clean and lived most of its life in a near zero humidity state but given any humidity a bus is just a tin can and will have condensation.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:37 PM   #18
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That's just scientifically not possible. There's mold and fungus everywhere, man. Your bus may have been very clean and lived most of its life in a near zero humidity state but given any humidity a bus is just a tin can and will have condensation.
My bus was (is) massively rusted out but not a hint of mold anywhere. I mean, I'm sure I could whip up some sourdough in there but there's nothing visible (or smellable).
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:50 PM   #19
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No mold inside my bus - it came from Indiana and it's survived 4 Montana winters so far.
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Old 09-14-2019, 06:21 PM   #20
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Mold needs two things to grow; moisture and food. Wood is food for mold, food residues on the steering wheel is food for mold, and some plasticisers in vinyl are food for mold. Mold will not grow on bare metal.

Looking for an alternative to corrosive bleach I found Mold Armor to be very effective.

Another good but more expensive mold killer is Lysol spray. I use it on moldy leather like gun slings or used horse tack.
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