We had company this weekend, so the darkroom was turned into a temporary storage facility...
Today, instead of "working" in the darkroom, I spent the day doing "maintenance".
Under the sink smelled a little musty so I mopped the floor with a little bleach. Odd - things "under" the sink smelled fine, and there was no reason for mildew to form. So maybe I staved that off in the early stage.
But the fun chore, we had bought some things for back to school, so had a bit of cardboard to play with. My darkroom supply shelves are a half-dozen 11x10x18 cardboard boxes on wire racks (I got the boxes from my stepfather's machine shop, either when I moved from college or when we got married). They had become a bit worse for wear because I pull them off the shelf by the ears to look for things. Don't know why but it's always hard to find this size (11x11 just doesn't cut it)...
So I cut some reinforcing cardboard and did a bit of glueing and repaired five of the worst of them. Probably hold up for another 30 years...
Cardboard and musty go together well here where it tends to be damp. I've gotten rid of most of the cardboard in my darkroom and garage and have plastic or metal containers. You should be able to get a variety of plastic containers (even milk crate style at a smaller scale) at your local dollar store or equivalent. Running a air cleaner (one with a fan, not an electrostatic one) has also helped immensely in darkroom cleanliness and air quality.
Gee, I thought a darkroom was supposed to smell a little musty!
You might consider a coat or two of polyurethane varnish on the cardboard boxes, letting them air out and dry thoroughly for a week or two, in order to reduce moisture absorption. Although at the price of paints lately, that might cost more than buying plastic totes!
Musty smell is gone, have no idea what it was but a very light mopping of bleach got rid of it completely. I am lucky on that front.
The cardboard boxes, I should have said to avoid misleading, are in a separate central part of the garage, dry and off the ground.
I like the idea of putting a protective coating on these "sentimental" boxes, since replacing them with plastic doesn't appeal to me.
I have plastic tubs in several other places (including under the sink where they are the right thing). But these boxes, I think are going to stay.
Found the source of the mildew smell. Over by the washing machine and dryer, there was a 2 1/2 gallon bottle of emergency water that had developed a small slow leak. A puddle underneath the table spread to the hamper and THAT was where the smell was coming from... Not the darkroom sink.
Actually, I think it's supposed to smell like fixer. ;) Once I brought a young photographer into my darkroom to look at some things I was liquidating, and his first comment was "There's no fixer smell!" There was NO smell, because I keep the air fresh.
Originally Posted by DWThomas
Haa, yes fixer smell. I don't "leave" the trays out like a school darkroom. Soon as a session is done, I pour the chemicals back where they belong and dump anything that was used as one-shot. So I expect clean smell.
I forgot that I also addressed another possible source of the mildew smell... And since the original smell was "under" the sink, I think this was really the problem. I made a wash table from old backyard wood furniture, that lifts the wash tray up high enough to use the Kodak Tank and Tray Siphon.
This little table gets wet. And when I'm done, I put it under the sink on the concrete... It HAD started growing fungus. Not quite like the moose-antler fungus I find on trees in the wild, but white chunky stuff that needed to be scraped off. I also treated the table with a little bleach after scrubbing off the obvious stuff.
But at the time that I smelled the musty odor, I just pulled everything out from under the sink... And I assume when I removed the table, I removed the smell...
At least I don't have any buildup of water and odor RIGHT NOW... And I will keep my fingers crossed that things stay this way.