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Another How to treat this MOLD situation

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First I am a house inspector and  have been through mold inspection/testing training.  But really don't do mold as part of my business.

I am trying to help out a disabled vet.  They live in a 3 sided berm home.  Home is 30ish years old.  About 4-5 years ago the house was

gutted down to the concrete walls due to a termite issue.  So it has new 2x4 walls, drywall on walls and ceiling.  Humidity runs 45-60% depending

on the season.  Due to continued allergy and flu like symptoms he wanted to run a air quality check for pollen's, mold's, etc.  Please see attached file

for test results.

My questions.

I want to make sure we understand what needs to be done and the correct process to treat the home.  Trying to be an informed consumer so that when

we talk with remediation companies we are sure they are taking the correct approach and not trying to take advantage and or gouge him.

Based on the report is whole house remediation required?  Since there is no visible mold or visible damp areas how would you re-mediate the house?

Since there is no visible molds or damp area would you wipe down the entire interior with a antimicrobial solution, paint it with KIltz or use some type of treatment like

a fogger or other aerosol type machine/process to treat the entire house? etc etc etc.  Are there any type of air exchanger/air treater/air filter machine that

treat the air and keep the mold out? 

THANKS in advance for your information.

 

 

MoldTest-Doc.pdf

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Termites, like mold, love moisture.  I'd do a few simple tests to gauge how fast moisture is coming through the concrete (calcium chloride tests maybe) and if low permeability in the wall structure is obstructing the prompt removal of that moisture by the AC or dehumidifier.

Just as an insulation barrier produces temperatures differentials, a moisture barrier can produce differentials in moisture level.

Edited by Marc

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The report looks to be a bunch of crap. I'm curious why they didn't highlight the numbers where the counts are higher outside than inside. If the resident is having health problems, perhaps the dander count is the most important.

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Keep these principles in mind: 

1: Mold might or might not be a problem on its own, but it's *always* a symptom of a larger water problem. 

2: Attempts to address the mold without first addressing the water problem are pointless. You could get rid of every scrap of mold in the house, but it will just return. 

3: Anyone who tells you anything different is not concerned with your best interests. 

Do the following: 

1: Burn the Mold Test-Doc and never think about it again. 

2: Conduct a careful visual inspection of the building to determine where water is entering and fix it so that the water stops entering. 

3: Keep the house reasonably clean and dry indoors. 

4: If you're a disabled vet with ongoing allergy and flu symptoms, don't live in a cave for chrissakes. 

 

 

 

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Jim K pretty much is spot on.  I would emphasize his recommendation to burn the mold for gold report.  Go after the water/moisture and the problem is solved. 

 

Actually that report is pretty bad.  There has to be another 15-20 pages of crap about mold.

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Right, that house needs dry heat, a wood-burning barrel stove would be good, but also electric heat is a dry heat source. Then there needs to be ventilation or even a dehumidifier until the walls dry out.

The heated air has to circulate everywhere, so sometimes electric baseboard heating in every room is better than having a central fire. If that's too costly, then lots of heating ducts including return air ducts for an efficient central heating system. This is what we do in the land of mold, the Pacific NW.

Where I've been asked to sniff out mould, it was almost always a result of poor air circulation in unheated spaces.

 

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A client of mine sent me a mold test report today. They charged $267. It was about 18 pages and the only thing I found of any value was the following:

Guidelines for Interpretation:

No accepted quantitative regulatory standards currently exist by which to assess the health risks related to mold and

bacterial exposure. Molds and bacteria have been associated with a variety of health effects and sensitivity varies

from person to person.

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There certainly is a place for mold testing and evaluation.  If we could get people to recognize that mold is everywhere and not always toxic, most of this goes away.  

Telling them water is the issue never seems to satisfy them.  They want it more complicated and need someone/something to blame that is more exotic. 

 

 

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I inspected a house in the fall where there were these closet bags for moisture gathering that were all full of water.  Best I could find as a reason was that the AC unit was a little oversized for the sq footage, which they say cools summer air without drying it, leading to clamminess.

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Chad, I agree the dander count is extremely high.  There are 2 adults living in this home.  No pets of any kind.  Housekeeping/cleaning is very good.  

Two questions.

1: Why do you assume the report is crap? It is the result of 1 air sample from in the house and a control sample from outside.

2: Any one have any idea what would cause such high dander counts?

I am just trying to figure this out, to help out the family that lives there and educate myself at the same time.

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Les, again for my education, why do you state the report is crap?  Yes there is many more pages about mold but I thought the only relevant part ofr this discussion would be the page I posted.  I am open to any and all guidance and education.  Thanks

 

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5 hours ago, JDG said:

Jim, thanks for the input and directions. I will pursue some moisture testing.

I never suggested testing. Why the fascination with testing? 

The mold document is crap because it provides no useful information. It doesn't tell you why mold is present or where it's present. It doesn't even tell you whether or not mold is a problem in this house. It's just a pointless distraction, a diversion, a red herring. Burn it (preferably outdoors so as not to add to the indoor pollution).

From your description, the only issue so far is that the occupant suffers from "allergy and flu-like symptoms." From this, people for some crazy reason, decide that there must be a "mold problem." I don't wish to offend, but that's just stupid. (That's not an insult, but a rational conclusion about a harebrained course of action.) Instead of chasing the mold boogyman, get the occupant to a competent doctor to figure out what the problem is before flailing around with "testing" of everything. 

If you must focus on the environment when you don't even know what you're looking for, approach the problem rationally and troubleshoot it like you'd troubleshoot anything else, without prejudice about what you're looking for: 

  • Does the occupant suffer from the same symptoms when removed from the environment? 
  • Do others suffer from the same symptoms in the same environment? 
  • If you set up a "clean room" in the house, are the symptoms alleviated when the occupant is in the clean room? 
  • If so, slowly introduce new things into the clean environment until the symptoms return.
  • If not, study the occupant, not the house. 

 

Edited by Jim Katen
Edited to make it better.

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Another option is to simply buy one of these 'air purifiers' and see if that helps.

My spouse had what I thought was a perceived issue with air quality in her office bldg after a flood brought in 4 feet of water to the first story.  Remediation and testing all revealed no remaining IAQ issue but she complained still so I bought her a couple of HEPA purifiers that claimed to remove up to 99% of spores, dander and just about everything down to as small as 2 microns.  They were both very inexpensive and for weeks afterwards (she had walk-in clients several times each day) clients would spontaneously remark how clean and refreshing the air was in her office after traversing the two stories between the bldg entrance and her office.  The difference was obvious to me when I would visit.

She still uses them after more than one year, although the smell in the rest of the bldg is now gone.

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