Tuesday, February 21, 2012

want to see what finding mold in your house looks like??

since our 8 months of living in a house with mold in it, i've had several friends ask me how we found out that we did, in fact, have mold.  we were initially suspicious because we had actually found mold in our downstairs closet, from a leak that had been going for months.  but there's a difference in finding mold in your house, and then having it in the air, causing legitimate, and potentially scary, health problems. 

we had been having health problems for months....and the thought was in the back of my mind that it could possibly be more problems with mold, but i continued to try to dismiss it.  that is, until i was coughing up blood, both of my kids had their first-ever ear infections {caleb was 6, leah was 2} and vomiting so hard from the ear infections that blood vessels had burst in their eyes and cheeks, caleb's legs were causing him so much pain that he couldn't walk, suddenly both caleb and i were diagnosed with asthma {which we had not had problems with before}, leah was on a nebulizer to help her breathe, and we just could not get well.  and i was watching both of my kids lose color and weight in a speed that was alarming to me.  they weren't bouncing back after the illnesses, they would just get another one.  and another.   

then, my brother and his wife came for a visit.

my SIL is allergic to penicillin, and within a couple of hours of being in our home, felt her throat closing up and tightness in her chest.  when they would leave and get out into open air, those symptoms would go away.  

so, we bought one of those mold take-home kits before we called in an expert, to see what would happen.  you're supposed to buy more than one test {found at home depot or lowe's for around $10/each}, so you can take a q-tip sample from at least two separate places.  one of those tests is supposed to be used to sample outside, and one inside the home.

the truth is, everywhere is going to have some sort of mold.  what you're looking for is how much, and especially the type of mold you find.

instead of testing our outside though, we decided to take one sample from our upstairs master bathroom {where we knew several leaks had sprung and leaked through the floor boards into our downstairs ceiling and was most likely the most mold-full place}, and then the other sample was from our closet underneath our stairs {where we had actually found mold growing from a separate leak and the mold experts had apparently "completely cleaned and sanitized," thinking it would be the least likely place to grow mold}.  

anyway, we swabbed, and let our petri dishes do their thang.  

within one week, this is what grew.  brace yourself:

EW.  right?  the one on the left is the one from the downstairs closet, the one on the right was from the master bathroom floor.  

when we had the actual mold and air specialist look at these, he said that clearly the downstairs closet had not been accurately cleaned, but he called the mold from the master bathroom much more serious, because it was a "cocktail" of different types.  the colors, the fuzziness, etc.   

so if you're concerned that you may have mold in your home, i suggest starting with one of these take-home kits.  if scary stuff shows up.....like it did with ours....then call in the expert.  

i look at what was going on in our lives a year ago, and sometimes i can't believe it.  i have never seen my kids that sick, or been that sick myself in my entire life.  it just did not stop.  

to be honest, it's still really hard for me to think any positive thoughts toward the property management company who was so shady and dishonest {R & C Real Estate--locals, DO NOT USE THEM!!}, threatening us with a lawyer instead of trying to do the right and ethical thing, and help us. i wanted to show up at their office with my pregnant belly, my new asthma inhaler, my poor little boy who couldn't walk, my daughter with her nebulizer strapped on her face, and ask them how they could sleep at night, knowing how they had treated some of the few decent people left on earth.  

when i saw the house up for sale several months ago, i made sure to call the listing agent to report the mold.  she acted suspicious and asked me who i was, and i let her know we had been the family renting it, who all got sick from the mold problem.  she said they knew about the mold, and it was in the report for the house.  

and now the home sits vacant.  it's been almost a year since we've left, and no one has occupied it.  i drive by it, walk by it, and i just feel sad about the whole thing.  i'm so, so grateful we're no longer there.  i'm so grateful that even though moving in 2 weeks while i was 7 months pregnant, and ben was writing his 25 page end-of-the-year paper was crazy-stressful, and really hard in all sorts of ways, that we did it.  

caleb still has asthma.  mine has improved, and only shows up when i'm exercising hard core.  our family has been only normal-sick, and not moldy-house-sick.  leah has put weight back on, and has only used the nebulizer once this winter.

so yes, it was a hard time last year.  we moved to a smaller house, and are paying more in rent.  that's not easy either, but it has been so worth it.  because i can't imagine what the mold house would have done to sweet little june's immune system.  and i'm glad i never have to find out.


S and RA Beazer said...

My neice has a similar story. You will have serious issues with mold the rest of your life. It is bad stuff. Thanks for your story.

MeggyT said...

more in rent but less in doctor's bills. i'm so glad you all are healthy and that baby June never had to live there.

Nana said...

What a horrible thing. Shame on those people. But the reward, is knowing that you don't live there anymore and you don't have those awful recurring health problems. Helps you appreciate the good renting companies and good health!

ohmylanta said...

I remember all of your posts about being sick! I am so glad you guys got out.

I should try that kit in the home we are renting. It is an older home and there is one bathroom that I don't use because of a leak and yucky fuzz growing.



I am so glad to hear that you called the agent about the home. That is a serious problem. How will they ever clean it adequately?
Or get rid of it entirely?