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Big Papi

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  1. Hey guys - thought you might like an update. In the short term, I just kept on cleaning, airing out the house and so on. Allergies persist, although improved. I simply wasn't convinced I didn't have mold - although I didn't think I had serious mold. So I got a guy to do air testing (I know you're going to groan), but also to do a thorough inspection, visually. Lo and behold - he found mold. But, it was in two spots, not out of hand and I cleaned them up myself (he didn't try to sell me on it). The counts were not high, not only comparable to outside, but in general. Yet, I'm not crazy - these allergies are still with me and they are still, definitely house-induced. Part of me thinks this could be the super dry humidity in winter / higher humidity now, bugging me. I.e., the house isn't circulating the air correctly and so on. Which leads me to the question. Is there any credence in the idea that the envelope needs to be more correctly sealed? Lots of guys sell that service, of course. It would certainly help with energy bills - but does it matter otherwise?
  2. No, I haven't - though that's not a bad idea. It's doubtful considering what I know of the previous owner - but then, again, you never know.
  3. I should probably restate the obvious, to add to this thread. One reads a lot of stuff online and in books and what not about possibilities and it's good stuff, but much of it presumes one has unlimited funds. But, if you don't, you have a dual problem - a) going through things one by one to try and pinpoint in a way that makes sense and b) doing those things in sequence and over time and in a way that's affordable. So, so far, it's been opening the windows, cleaning the house, getting a dehumidifer for the basement, getting hygrometers to monitor humidity, cleaning the ductwork, fixing bathroom venting in the attic, and visual inspecting every nook and cranny I can get my eyes on. And, the problem is consistent, yet to discover a smoking gun. So, on we go down the list. Thanks all, again, for the feedback.
  4. Well, my thinking is if I had some issues with the carpet in the basement whatever it is could get blown around the house. I was also thinking if I sealed the duct work that could help, in case I was pulling from the attic or elsewhere - although I don't know if that's the case. About the only thing I can say for certain, after all this, is that the allergies are there, regardless of weather - but they are worse when one has to use either the heat or the ac.
  5. I'm probably into a combo of things now - trying to do the controlled environment, seeing about air exchange unit, sealing the ducts. Also going to rip up that nasty carpet. It's a pandora's box, now - but you're inspectors - so should I go with stained concrete OR bamboo (with a water vapor barrier underneath)? The aesthetics are a wash, so I'm thinking future air quality- eliminating possible sources of crud. Thanks!
  6. Jim - I like your thought process and that's pretty much what I've been trying to do, though not as extensively as with the "clean room". Recently, I've been sleeping in the living room, in different conditions, to see how that goes - but following your advice, re; the controlled environment is better. Doug
  7. No, it's not the plants. I only got them last week, and they're to crunch VOCs - and even then, there are only three of them. Symptoms: For my son, it's mostly runny nose, some coughing. For him, it's like turning a switch - going to school, the symptoms are gone, coming home, they come back. For me, I've got drip in my throat, some runny nose, some scratch eyes, lots of dry coughing - particularly in the morning. For me, it also appears to be house induced, dependent on how much time I spend there. Neither one of us had these in our previous house - I was a traveling musician before and spent loads of time in places both posh and er, um, really dodgy. And, never had these symptoms before.
  8. Yeah, I don't particularly care for the carpet anyway. My post up above tells the other stuff I've done. I also found an improperly vented bathroom fan in the attic, which I've had fixed. I poked around up there and didn't see any signs of condensation, moisture, mold. Didn't see anything - neither did the HVAC guys. I did just get a couple peace lilies, as they're VOC-crunching plants per NASA. Anyways, same problem as before, trying to weed through the process of elimination. Checking things off the list, but not feeling closer to a solution. For what it's worth, the humidity in the house never seems off the charts, as one guy said, it tends to be on the low side. It's been a really warm winter in nashville this year. But, the allergies appear to be consistent w any kind of weather and they definitely subside (for me and my son) away from the house.
  9. In case you guys are curious....allergies are persisting. We've had warmer weather, so plenty of open windows. Got Jeffrey May's book, so thanks on that. He says most folks who have this problem have gas heat and/or carpet in the basement. I have both. Although the basement appears dry, I'll probably rip up the carpet. I keep scouring and doing home improvement tweaks as I go, but no smoking guns yet. Thanks again.
  10. Thanks, guys. Good suggestions. Particularly about the previous house - when I analyze my previous rental digs - leaky roof, crawlspace with water, leaky sink, non-vented bathroom. So, why now? Ideas like the contaminants from the work I had done, gasses, etc., are good ones. It's the not-knowing that makes it difficult, because one can spend his/her money and time in a million different places, looking for whatever it might or might not be. So, thanks. I'll keep you posted!
  11. Good stuff, guys. I'm not sure who's dissing anyone though. I'm just driving for solutions. The open windows, for sure. But, hard to do when it's 20 degrees outside. Right now, he humidity in here is about 30 percent And when we had a warm spell a couple weeks back and it was up around 55-60 - same symptoms. Definitely, the gas heat takes some getting used to. But, allergic reactions to gas heat? There's most definitely an allergic reaction to something in the house that my son and I both have - we never had 'em before, and they dissapate or disappear when we leave the house. So, I'm just trying to find out what it is - what we're allergic to. Who wouldn't? Thanks for the reference, Jim. And, Kurt - yes, that could be a big part of it. Any other suggestions always welcome. Thank you!
  12. Hey guys - I left a post earlier about the allergy symptoms my son and I developed, moving into a new house in January. And, I got some great feedback. So, I've had the carpets cleaned downstairs, got humidity readers. had a deep cleaning of the house, had the ducts and coil cleaned, poked around in any non-paneled walls (concrete, downstairs - no moisture I could see, except a leak in the washing machine - I cleaned around that). I looked in the attic (not under insulation, though). I don't see anything, I don't smell anything, except a lingering new house smell in two bedrooms where floors/paint were done. The house feels stuffier than it should, it feels close, but not necessarily humid. But, the allergies persist and they leave us when we leave the house, for the most part. Since it's wintertime, there's obviously the possibility of recirculated air from wherever. However, the conditions don't appear ripe for stuff to grow - AND, if it's hidden - how do you find it? How do you find something that you arent' sure is there. If you're talking mold, the EPA, etc., says looking for it visually is the best way to go. But, if you hire a guy to look for it visually, he's usually a mold remediator from the get go. So, that's tricky. And, some folks try to sell me air purifiers for the hvac. I might have the air tested, but me thinks it simply adds another stage. No? Any suggestions, appreciated! Thank you sirs!
  13. 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.
  14. 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?
  15. 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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