Daily Black Mold Encounters

September 27, 2007

My latest encounter with black mold involves my house. Home sweet sometimes moldy home. I have an older house where everything goes wrong, alot. Sometimes I feel like I bought the house in that old movie "The Money Pit" with Shelley Long"....remenber that movie? Well, that's my house. Right now our washing machine is leaking water into the basement and has been doing so without our knowing it for about a month. Could there be mold? I think there is. How did we not know it was happening?. Well when we saw water in the basement, my husband kept saying it was the release valve on the hot water heater, which I bought for a while till I happened to be down in the basement during the spin cycle on the washer and saw water showering down from the ceiling. I no longer was gonna buy the hot water valve release theory anymore. So then my husband and a friend snaked out the drain pipe and the sewer pipe (YUK) and what a nasty job that is. We thought that for 60 ( the cost of renting a snake) that our problems were over. Not. Today I attempted to run the washer and it flooded the floor again! HELP!!!! Now we are getting a plumber out to check it out. But even if we finally fix the leak at whatever cost it runs us, I am faced with the fact that there is undoubtedly mold growth under the brand new hardwood floors where the water has been leaking for a month. In fact I can see black mold on the edges of one of the boards. My husband wants to just pour bleach over it and let it soak in and kill the mold. I think that sounds like it may work for the short term but long term...there will be mold growth still. In the past month I have noticed a mold smell in the laundry room and also I have had a reemergence of some of my symptoms. Let me tell you what I plan on doing. I am going to rip up one of the floor boards myself. I understand that I will have to pretty much detroy it to get it up because of the tongue in groove stuff. We have some extra hardwood in the garage that I will replace it with. Keep in mind, I am not a carpenter and have zero experience putting in or taking out hardwood floors. My husband thinks I am crazy. But here is my philosophy on the whole thing. Everyone is always afraid of wrecking their beautiful houses. Yes I admit, a part of me looks at that beautiful hardwood floor and thinks that maybe I should just leave it alone. Maybe I will wreck it. But I would rather wreck my house than my body. I can always get a new house or even live in a trailer park if I have to, but I can never get a new body. So I look at this beautiful hardwood floor and think about how many other people out there are just too scared or too intimidated to do the right thing and clean up mold in their houses before it kills them. I would rather walk around on plywood than have a smoldering mold infestation underneath my floors. Some day i will get the nerve to take an axe and rip up my wall board to remove the moldy insulation that I know exists behind it. Yes it is quite a project I know, but not impossible and I am sure worth every effort. But that is another story for another day. Right now I get to play a carpenter. One thing is for sure, there is no way I would even attempt this project without a mold respirator to protect my lungs, gloves, a long sleeved shirt, long sleeved pants, a hepa filter to remove mold spores in the air, plastic over the doors to keep the mold spores from going to other parts of the house and bleach to pour over any moldy areas and clean up moldy areas. Moldy areas need to be scrubbed with bleach and every attempt should be made to remove as much mold as possible. For example I pln on removing and replacing the black tar paper that is put down under the hardwood floors. Perhaps we will have plywood floors in the laundry roon before I figure out how to do all this, but we will have healthy air to breath which is really the most important feature of any house. Stay tuned for the continuing saga as I attempt to single handedly prove that any one can fix mold problems in their house at a low cost. Believe me if I can do it...almost anyone can.

September 30

Well, yesterday was an answer to a prayer. The son of one of my patients, who works in construction came out to our house yesterday to assess our plumbing situation. For a guy who does not specialize in plumbing, he sure knows a lot about plumbing. He found that our old iron pipes had such a bad build up of iron deposits over the years, they were almost completely blocked. When I saw these pipes they looked like arteries clogged with atherosclerotic plaque. They looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. A plumbing heart attack that is. The horrible plumbing was going to give me heart attack too. So, the solution to All our plumbing problems is new PVC pipes. NO more toilets backing up. No more drainage from the washer all over the floor. It's amazing that other professionals that have worked on the plumbing in our house never suggested that iron build up blockages as a possibilty and never suggested we get new pipes. It would have saved us a lot of hassle and a lot of visits from plumbers. I am still faced with what to do with the probable black mold under the hardwood floors. More on that later. October 15, 2007 TOXIC BLACK MOLD IN BASEMENT DRAIN!!!

My latest encounter with toxic black mold reminded me of the black mold symptoms I had experienced several months prior when I was recovering from the toxic black mold exposure at my workplace. The symptoms of black mold that I had this time started off with severe allergic symptoms like itchy nose and eyes, sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing and sometimes trouble breathing. I thought that perhaps it was outdoor allergies acting up because this is the time of year for that. But fall outdoor allergies had never bothered me this much before, so that was disturbing to me. I knew there was something really wrong when I started getting the toxic symptoms of black mold which included anxiety, a mild panic attack, insomnia, the chills, dizziness and severe headaches. I just did not feel right. I noticed my 2 1/2 year old was acting kind of irritable and had bad allergy symptoms. And also over the past 2 weeks we have both been constantly getting sick. One cold after another. I thought it was us both picking up whatever was going around the daycare. I am sure that had something to do with it, but I also knew there was something else going on. I prayed to God to help me find the answer.

Well, God answered that prayer and helped me discover the source of my problem.. That "something else going on" that I was feeling, turned out to be toxic black mold..This latest encounter with toxic black mold was due to two things. One was the washer drain overflowing because of a blocked pipe. Our house has old metal pipes which had become corroded and there was a bulidup of deposits so thick that the pipe opening in some places was the size of a carrot. So when the washer went on spin cycle the water would drain into the drain pipe and because the drain was too narrow to take that large influx of water, the water would drain all over the floor behind the washer. And this went on for who knows how long because if you did not look behind the washer and did not happen to be in the basement during the spin cycle, you wouldn't know about the leak. I would see water on the floor i the basement but my husband kept saying it was the release valve on the hot water heater going off.

So now we have water damaged brand new hardwood floors that need to be replaced and the mold in there needs to be cleaned up. I am gong to try to get my homeowners insurance to help with that. I do know that they cover water damage from appliances leaking. I think.

The other source of the toxic black mold spore that I am sure were wafting through my house was something I am sure most people would not suspect. I think it is possible that this was the major source of my latest brush with toxic black mold. I had been noticing a mold smell coming from the basement for about 2 months. I would check the basement for mold growth on walls but there was nothing visible anywhere. At some point during those 2 moths I knew that the washer was leaking water into the basement so I guess I was just attributing the mold smell to that somehow.

Well, about 2 months ago, after bugging him about it for a while my husband finally hooked up a hose to the dehumidifier, so we could drain it into the floor drain in the basement. BIG MISTAKE! This was much more convenient for me because then I did not have to keep going down the basement and emptying the dehumidifier bucket once or twice a day. Now, looking back, I realize that this event occurred around the same time the mold smell started. The floor drain in our basement is basically a hole in the floor with a drain cover and the hole in the floor goes right intto a hole in the dirt. I don't think there is a pipe down there, it just looks and smells like dirt. I remembered reading that some molds smells like dirt. Then it dawned on me. Could it be that I was feeding and growing a whole colony of mold down in that drain with my constant watering from the dehumidifier? It was a perfect space for it to grow..it was warm, dark and wet. Although I was still not sure if the mold smell was coming from the floor drain in the basement, I decided to pour some bleach down that drain. I poured about 1/4 of a gallon of bleach directly into the drain and left it open to continue to drain the dehumidifier. I then noticed that, replacing the mold smell that wafted up the stairs, was a strong bleach smell which made me think that, yes, the mold smell was coming from the drain.

My allergies at this point now were so bad I could not smell anything, so I could not tell if there is a mold smell or not. So I waited a day to see if my symptoms improved but they did not. In fact, I seemed to be getting worse. So, I decided to take action and stop watering the possible mold in the dirt pit below the drain. I disconnected the hose from the dehumidifier and noticed the clear hose had a large area of black mold growing in the tube. I threw the hose out immediately. Then I put a plunger over the drain as a temporary plug to keep out mold spores. Although it is still hard for me to smell because of my allergies, I think I notice that the mold smell is now gone. I will gladly empty the dehimidifier, by hand, twice a day, rather than suffer the effects of toxic black mold.

I also bought a new HEPA filter for our bedroom upstairs. Our old HEPA filter had broken and we had been needing to buy a new for the past few months. I turned it on to high and kept the bedroom door shut at night to keep the air as clean as possible. Most HEPA filters have a small enough pore size to trap toxic black mold spores. If a HEPA filter says it traps particles as small as .3 microns, you know it will trap any mold spores including toxic black mold spores. So getting 8 hours of clean air with no mold spores is helping me recover from this latest hit with toxic black mold. I notice my toddler, who is also sleeping in the HEPA purified room, is healthier and less irritable now.

I think that perhaps other people might have similar problems with toxic black mold spores coming up from basement drains and not realize it. It is a very easy and inexpensive problem to fix.

In hindsight, I think that also might be why I felt bad on rainy days. On rainy days the soil would get soaked and drain under our house and when the soil under the drain became wet it would feed the mold. And when the mold grew it would release spores into the air.

I feel much better now. I am sleeping better. The anxiety is gone. The headaches, chills and dizzines are gone as well. I feel almost back to normal. My allergies are better but still a little aggravated. I had taken some extra doses of the Limu moui to get the mold toxins out of my system and that seemed to help too. I am so relieved that I figured out a simple and inexpensive solution to my toxic black mold problem. I still have to address the possible mold and water damaged hardwood floors upstairs and that may be a lot more expensive unless I decide to do it myself, which I still might do.