resurrecting an unused darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Jordan.K, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. Jordan.K

    Jordan.K Member

    Messages:
    262
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    So I've been offered a darkroom recently and I feel it would be a great place to process my sheet film and make some contact prints. The plumbing is decent with only one tiny leak. The ventilation system is functioning and the sink is a large steel one.

    My issues are that it has been quite damp down there for a while and unused in about a year. I have reason to believe that mold has grown but not much visual evidence except for perhaps what are some strange black spots in one of the damp but mostly little used sinks. I am not entirely sure of the water quality. What tests should I run to determine whether it is safe for archivally processing my film? It does have a basic filtration in which I just replaced the 5 micron filter. Are there any concerns as to potential mold fumes and my film drying down there? What else should I be looking for? Sorry if some these questions are a little strange, however I am curious and wonder whether I should bother sinking a little money into this free darkroom or continue to travel a longer distance to my current spot. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Location:
    Prospect (Lo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The evidence that household mold causes human disease, much less damage to film from some purported "fumes" it might emit, is laughably weak at best––trial lawyers and gullible juries notwithstanding. That bogeyman has to rank alongside alien abduction as one of the more overhyped dangers the average person faces. Though I fully expect now to be deluged with anecdotes about someone's fungus-ridden auntie or brother.

    Give it a good cleaning with dilute bleach and you should be good to go.

    You face more risk from spiders than from mold.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2009
  3. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Your film may hover be at risk from the mold if you store it in a damp location. Even if you get spores on it from the darkroom it will be fine if it doesn't get exposed to high humidity. There really is no proactical way to keep film (or anything else) free of mold spores.

    I would run a dehumidifier 24/7 to keep the humidity at 50%. Wipe down any mold with bleach. It sounds like it's just on the sinks, so I imagine you are fine to move in. But be sure to fix any water infiltration issues if there are any.
     
  4. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would purchase a face mask to protect my eyes and the air. Then buy the best dehumidifier you can afford.

    Good luck,
     
  5. Roger Thoms

    Roger Thoms Subscriber

    Messages:
    930
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Do fix the plumbing leak.:wink:
    Roger
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,645
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another vote for the dehumidifier - it is your best friend when looking to do that kind of thing. What kind of printing will you be doing? Silver Gelatin, or any alt processes? If the darkroom has significant humidity problems, I'd be inclined to not store anything there other than processing equipment (plastic, stainless and/or glass) and pre-mixed liquid chemistry. Even with the dehumidifier, if you don't get in there for a several-week stretch, the dehumidifier tank will fill up and stop working, at which point your problem will return.
     
  7. Jordan.K

    Jordan.K Member

    Messages:
    262
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thank you all for the input...... even MikeSeb's making fun. I do currently have dehumidifier running, but as some of you know that causes the heat to rise and it's been in the upper 80's for the past couple of weeks.... oh well I'll deal with the heat for a little while. No one addressed my questions about water quality, are there any things I should be checking for and any tests I should conduct?
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can sometimes hook the dehumidifier tank with a hose that will run into a floor drain, then you can run it without being there every day.
     
  9. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,574
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you are concerned with water quality, install a double in-line filter to the system. First filter for sediment, the second for purity(active carbon) to remove chlorine and trace elements. These are not too terribly expensive to purchase, and if you are somewhat handy, you can install it yourself. BTW congrats on getting a dedicated darkroom-- I'm extremely envious.
    Rick