Ah Spring. Has it sprung, really? We thought so and enjoyed a beautiful Easter weekend with sunshine and warmer temps, but today dawned much cooler than normal and I heard tell of snow coming down so thick this morning it caused near white out conditions briefly. It must have been pretty brief because by the time I was out and about there was no sign of any snow to be seen. I’m sitting here on the couch, sort of cold and tired and achey wrapped in two sweaters and a scarf to ward off the chill. Both sweaters are in a lovely spring pink, but two sweaters all the same. Mac just put the kettle on for hot water to make some tea and I’m thinking of spending the rest of the evening wrapped in a quilt with a hot cup of tea in front of the TV, thank you very much.
Something about the warmer weather we had last week has the house feeling musty and dusty. The mold issues are being cleaned up one by one, but it’ll be months still before we get it all out. We did contact a mold specialist who came out and got samples of our house air to test and gave us the rundown on mold. Turns out none of the mold is toxic and we are relieved that’s the case, but when you have allergies to mold, it doesn’t have to be the toxic kind that makes you sick.
Before the mold specialist came we found out about a mold fogger that would fog an entire room quickly and easily. The fog was nontoxic and inexpensive and we thought our prayers were answered. It does kill the mold, but the specialist told us the caveats of this method of mold removal are numerous. For one thing, the fog method is hit and miss. There is no way to ensure that the fog saturates every mold hiding place. Another problem is that you can kill the mold that way, but the dead mold spores are just as bad for allergies as live mold spores, and we just blasted them with fog, killing them and dispersing them into the air. Another problem is that the fog does not remove the mold stain. The roof sheeting in the attic still looks moldy and if we were to try to sell the house any good home inspector would write it up with “visible mold”. That would certainly make the house much harder to sell.
The attic ventilation is the real reason behind the mold. The roof over the back addition on the house has too low of a pitch. The mold specialist outlined our options. 1) Call in mold remediation specialists who will come in and sand blast the mold off the wood and replace any wood that is too far gone. This is the most expensive option and we would still have to fix the ventilation issue after all the mold was removed. 2) Remove the sheeting and the roof shingles where the mold is and clean the wood roof structure. Replace the sheeting and the shingles and add a ventilation fan in that part of the attic roof. The mold specialist said this was iffy, it would be something that we would have to constantly check to make sure nothing is getting wet. 3) Take off the roof from most of the house and rebuild the roof, restructuring it to raise the pitch over the north side of the roof. This would take the moldy wood out and fix the ventilation problem in one shot. This is the option that we are hoping to do soon. It’s thousands and thousands of dollars in cost, but it will give us the peace of mind knowing that the ventilation is better and the roof needs new shingles anyway. We are trying to figure out how to pay for it.
In the meantime, don’t make the mistake of thinking “out of sight, out of mind” with mold. The fog in the attic did take away the musty smell up there, but all those dead mold spores and the live mold spores that have been floating around the house for the last few years have found their way into every porous material we have in the house. The carpeting is a dust and mold magnet and we are in the process of removing the carpeting from the entire house and replacing it with wood or laminate flooring. The mold specialist explained that our furniture breathes mold and dust. Think about it, you sit down and air trapped in the cushions is forced out, you get up and the cushions pull air back in. It’s a terrible cycle and basically our furniture is a mold and dust breathing nightmare. After we get the carpeting out our goal is to replace the furniture.
Two of the bedrooms needed to have the mold removed from the drywall and floor. In addition to the leaky roof we found that our bathtub has been leaking behind the wall between the bathroom and one bedroom. We’ve got one of the bedrooms completely done, painted and new flooring and the child moved back in. She loves her new room. Over the summer we will need to remove an exterior wall to clean better under the tub. There is a chance, after better inspection, that we may have to replace the tub as well. It’s hard to see under there and with a crawl space, there is just no way to climb under there and remove the mold. We also discovered, after finding the house becoming more and more dusty and the air quality report coming back with a high amount of both dust and mold, that one of our heating ducts had come apart and was laying in the dirt of the crawl space, sucking up dust and blowing it into the air in the house. Yeah, insult to injury.
The health aspect of it all is pretty miserable. Think about all those typical allergy symptoms, runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat and add to them aches and pains and numb fingers and toes, ear and hearing issues, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, chronic dry cough, mind numbing exhaustion and difficulty concentrating. Add to that it’s our own home that makes us feel this way. Air filters and purifying oils can only do so much. When we come in after a day out of the house the musty dusty air just hits you in the face. I feel like I’ve inhaled dirt all the time. I worry that my immune system is just so overtaxed that I’m fixing to get really, really sick.
There is so much work left to be done, seeing the results in one room does give us hope that when the carpeting is gone and the furniture is replaced, we’ll be breathing much easier. It’s pretty amazing that we’ve found the money to do what we’ve gotten done. God provides and when I stand at the window and watch the birds out at the bird feeder I’m reminded of this. One day we’ll look back at the lessons we’ve learned and breath the fresh air of experience.