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dust mites or mold or something else

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[#1] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 1:21:46 PM
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Hey everyone. I just moved into a new house, previously owned, built in 1960, gas heat, ranch house, with basement. I moved in the first weekend in January. I've been noticing that I have incredible dry eye syndrome, somewhat dry skin, somewhat scratchy throat.

I'm trying to pinpoint the cause. I had the floors refinished and some painting done. It could be that. It could be the ducts need cleaning. It could simply be the dry heat. Or, it could be hidden mold, or mold in the basement, re-circulating.

So, before I freak out, I'm asking around and getting folks opinions on next steps. My son lives there with me as well, and I don't see any symptoms in him...

Thanks!

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dust mites or mold or something else
[#2] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 1:28:26 PM
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Do you have gas or oil-fired, forced air heat? Did you have forced air heat at your previous residence?
Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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dust mites or mold or something else
[#3] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 1:31:31 PM
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It's gas forced heat - and no, I didn't have that at my previous home. My previous home was a rental, not very well insulated, and with electric heat.
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dust mites or mold or something else
[#4] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 2:57:15 PM
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Do a very thorough cleaning, clean the coil in the furnace, replace the filter. Personally, I wouldn't do the ducts yet, as duct cleaning (counter intuitively) is overrated as a means for improving indoor air quality.

Yes, you could have some mold, but simple cleaning will go a very long way toward removing that as a problem.

Is the basement damp? Is there any obvious staining or appearance of water stains?

After that, it's impossible to diagnose indoor air quality on a message board. We might be able to point you in a direction, but most of the analysis is going to be on you.



Kurt in Chicago

"If I smell it, it goes in the report".............Phillip Smith...2012


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dust mites or mold or something else
[#5] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 3:56:11 PM
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I think Kibbel may have been implying that if you didn't have forced air heat before, it may take some getting used to.

Or what Kurt said....

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dust mites or mold or something else
[#6] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 6:17:40 PM
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That's all good advice, thanks, and yes, understood you can't diagnose exactly. I'm just trying to get other folks' experience and work through the process of elimination.

On the ? The basement is finished, but I don't see any visible signs of water. It's slightly musty, but doesn't feel damp. There is a laundry room/bath off the basement, where I may have detected a little bit of mold behind the washer. So, I'm going to work at cleaning that up, of course

And, I'm going to get humidity meters upstairs and down.

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[#7] Posted: 02/03/2012 - 7:17:22 PM
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Forced air heat dries me out (and screws up my acoustic guitars). In the winter, I have to keep my home above 50% humidity to eliminate some symptoms similar to yours.
Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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[#8] Posted: 02/04/2012 - 08:19:06 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by Big Papi

That's all good advice, thanks, and yes, understood you can't diagnose exactly. I'm just trying to get other folks' experience and work through the process of elimination.

On the ? The basement is finished, but I don't see any visible signs of water. It's slightly musty, but doesn't feel damp. There is a laundry room/bath off the basement, where I may have detected a little bit of mold behind the washer. So, I'm going to work at cleaning that up, of course

And, I'm going to get humidity meters upstairs and down.


I don't know how long you have lived in Mid-TN but it is dry here in the winter months. The average outside humidity (when it is not raining or we have a warm front moving up from the south) is around 20% or less. on top of that we also have very hard water and that adds to the drying of ones skin.

If you can't figure it out give me a call and I can get you on the schedule to see if we can rule some things out for you.

It could very well be VOC's from the work you have done in the home that are irritating you.

Scott Patterson
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[#9] Posted: 02/05/2012 - 07:16:02 AM
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Thanks Scott.

I just got a pocket humidity gauge and it's showing 58% - but that's partly because of the rainy weather we've had the last couple days. Dry eyes have been better. But nasal drip is still there and my son has a bit of a runny nose.

I have thought it's dust and paint and what not, from work that was done.


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[#10] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 04:55:59 AM
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Greater than 50% RH indoors is hideously uncomfortable, not to mention moist enough to grow all sorts of stuff.

I just looked at a ranch house built in 04, a pole barn over a full basement with two zone hydronic radiant heat, completely clad in steel. My humidistat went berserk when I took it out of my pocket. In less than 20 seconds the readings went something like: 21, 34, 45, 62, 74, then froze on 88. I reset it twice and installed new batteries, same result. The homeowner had analog gauges in several rooms of the house reading 57 to 68% with indoor temps in the low 60's. It was so muggy in there that I broke a sweat doing an IR scan.

And to think I was called out to diagnose a condensation problem

Tom

http://clearcreekhomeinspection.com/

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[#11] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 08:53:11 AM
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It seems to have settled on 55%, indoor temp about 66 degrees; but it doesn't feel muggy. It's process of elimination, so I'll probably start with the duct cleaning. If that doesn't do it, then it's on to pinpointing mold/moisture.
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[#12] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 12:38:20 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Tom Raymond

Greater than 50% RH indoors is hideously uncomfortable, not to mention moist enough to grow all sorts of stuff.
How do you handle the real world?

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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[#13] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 12:39:19 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Big Papi

It seems to have settled on 55%, indoor temp about 66 degrees; but it doesn't feel muggy. It's process of elimination, so I'll probably start with the duct cleaning. If that doesn't do it, then it's on to pinpointing mold/moisture.
Duct cleaning should be the very last item on your list.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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[#14] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 5:22:22 PM
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How so? (Re; the duct cleaning). I've talked to two air quality tester guys who suggested it as the first action. I'm open to all ideas here, just asking! Thanks
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[#15] Posted: 02/06/2012 - 7:17:06 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Big Papi

How so? (Re; the duct cleaning). I've talked to two air quality tester guys who suggested it as the first action. I'm open to all ideas here, just asking! Thanks
What qualifications do your "air quality" tester guys have? What might be their affiliation with duct cleaning scam companies. Get some advice from real air quality scientists. Look up the impartial studies that have concluded that duct cleaning is only necessary after a severe "event", and not needed when prescribed by someone who received 12 hours of air quality "training" to sell air testing or other products and services.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
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[#16] Posted: 02/07/2012 - 06:53:22 AM
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Well, then, where would you start?

Your point is well taken. But, I'm trying to look at process of elimination. Ducts would certainly collect dust and crud and circulate it and a duct guy looking at them would at least be able to give me a sense of that. The other tract would be to try and focus on the mold.

Well, I have very little visible mold - a little in the bathroom downstairs. The humidity has dropped with the weather (low 40s) and it feels stuffy in the house a little bit, but not muggy. So, I'm not so sure that's it. and you'retalking investigative work in that regard too - at a cost - and one certainly doubts many of the mold remediation guys out there jumping on the bandwagon. So, I'm not sure how one tract is better than the other. Seems like you eliminate them as you go.

That's a long way of saying, if you don't start with the duct work - where would you start?

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[#17] Posted: 02/09/2012 - 06:54:45 AM
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Hey all, I just thought I'd update you as you've been so cool and part of this is all detective work and the more we talk to each other, the more we learn.

I decided to have someone do a deep clean of the house, I'm having someone look at the ducts (before committing to cleaning),and I'm also having some air testing done. Folks tend to think it's VOCs or the ducts, as opposed to mold, but I'm thrown by the fact that even with the cold spell here in Nashville, indoor humidity never drops below 44%. Although maybe that's my cheap meter? It never feels "wet", however, and I never come close to breaking a sweat. So, that's probably the most puzzling part.

So hopefully doing all of the above will start eliminating possibilities and point me in a more specific direction.


   
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