OH MY GOD, WE HAVE MOLD, HELP ME CALM DOWN

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia and ME & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' started by JewelRA, Jul 9, 2008.

  1. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I read about toxic mold on the board a number of times all through 2007 but never considered seriously that it might be a problem for me.

    Erik's notes were incredibly cryptic. There was no smell of mold in my house and nothing that looked like mold. (I did have mold growing on a carpet after a water leak, but the obviously moldy part was removed.)

    I also was under the mistaken impression that mold was an all or nothing thing, and that those people suffering from it all were sicker than I.

    That was a false assumption. It now seems clear that a little poison mold can cause people to be a little sick, and that a lot of poison mold can cause people to get really sick.

    My husband's and my health both deteriorated dramatically during 2007. We were both just moderately ill before that. It seems to me that the mold in our house must have gotten worse during that time.

    After Erik got kicked off this board, I (finally!) bought a copy of "Mold Warriors" and read the chapter that profiled him. It's called something like "Mold at Ground Zero for CFS."

    It just clicked and I became instantly convinced that this was an issue for me. I had a mold inspector come to my house immediately after that and was lucky that he identified a small amount of what looked to him like black mold on a wall in my laundry room. (Most of the mold was behind some fake paneling in my family room and behind two layers of drywall in the attic. These were prompted by water leaks, from old windows in the family room and a roof leak from 10 years ago in the attic. There also may have been a sump pump back up years earlier in the laundry room, though I'm not sure of that. Upon reflection I think there was some toxic mold when we moved into the house 17 years ago, though I have no way of proving that.)

    I felt quite optimistic the moment I discovered the problem, since I REALLY wanted to get well and don't get that attached to physical stuff. My husband had a much harder time adjusting, but now avoids mold as scrupulously as I do.

    Unfortunately, we own that house. I'm not yet sure what to do with it. I feel uncomfortable selling to someone unless I KNOW it's not only safe now but going to be safe in the future. How do I prove to myself that though? I'm still pondering.

    This has been a big financial hit for us. However, I believe it will be worth it. I am continuing to improve and so am waiting to start work since I want to get the right sort of job. Hopefully that will make up (at least in part) for the money we've lost.

    Unfortunately and somewhat evil-y, the insurance companies in almost all states got commissioners to let them write mold exclusions into their contracts several years ago. Apparently they weren't underestimating the potential costs of toxic mold problems!

    I think a few states (California?) may have exceptions for people who have owned their homes since before the exclusions were added to their contracts. I know this is not the case in Illinois (where I live) though.
    [This Message was Edited on 07/10/2008]
  2. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    The problem with the beeping machine is that toxic mold can continue to grow even when water intrusions were stopped long ago.

    Apparently there was no water at all in my attic, even though there was a lot of mold growing there. Probably it started or was exacerbated by a roof leak that we had more than a decade ago.

    The mold in the downstairs part of my house was exacerbated by leaks in the windows, which got under the fake paneling and got mold to grow. The water was sporadic and not very great in quantity though. The beeping machine probably wouldn't have picked it up.

    One of the mold remediation guys seemed to have a real knack for looking at places (like a crack in the ceiling) and guessing that there was mold underneath. I had a different company ultimately do the work, and there indeed was mold in the places that he suggested were problems.

    The thing that I'm not sure about is whether there might be more mold hiding somewhere. If indeed the mold was contained to the places where it was found, I think things will be okay. It's hard to know for sure though.

    Plus with the spores around, the future owners should take super care not to let any water in.

    Unfortunately, i can't tell if there's any new mold in the house because my system goes kind of bonkers when I'm there due to the presence of the mold poison stuck to the belonging still in the house as well as the floors, walls, etc.

    It is true that I get less reaction there than I did at the home of another CFS patient I visited recently. (That was the most extreme experience I've had since moving out of the house too.) At least that's something!

    So while the beeping machine is interesting, it's not certain that it's 100% accurate.

  3. pawprints

    pawprints New Member

    What are the tests that can be done to determine if mold is a problem? In one of the posts, certain blood tests were mentioned.

    Thanks.
  4. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    Hi pawprints!

    This web page has a list of the blood tests on it:

    http://www.biotoxin.info/consultations

    At least, those were the tests that I had done! I think it covers all the important things.

    In his book "Mold Warriors", Dr. Shoemaker explains what each test is.

    Forebearance

    Thanks for the website address, Lisa.
    Thanks GA. It's amazing what you can do if you feel like you have to do it.[This Message was Edited on 07/11/2008]
  5. pawprints

    pawprints New Member

    Thanks...I will go on that.

    I think another thread got started on LabCorp doing the testing...I must use Quest to have my insurance pay...but will start investigating both.
  6. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Apparently Quest does not do two of the tests, the HLA DR (genetics test) and MSH.

    I wonder if your insurance would pay for tests done by other labs in that case.

    I'm still trying to figure out how to get this nasal swab test (for the nasal staph) done. Hopefully we will figure it out.

  7. JewelRA

    JewelRA New Member

    Wow, I am just overwhelmed by all of this information!!! Slayadragon and Forebearance, you have really done your homework about this and lived it out, I can tell.

    I am just mentally and emotionally overwhelmed about this right now. I am trying so hard not to "freak out", as I know this will only make my health worse.

    I have to admit I've run the gamut of thoughts and emotions such as have been posted here, ranging from "this mold biz is a scam" to "I have to get out of my house NOW!!". I am trying to calm down and take an educated, well-thought-out approach.

    As far as insurance, I am almost positive that mine has one of those exclusion riders. Grrrr...we have never had our insurance company cover ANYTHING that has happened to either of the homes we have owned! What are we paying them for anyway?

    I was thinking about taking that Vision Test that slayadragon mentioned anyway, thank you for reminding me about it. It was mentioned in Dr. Teitlebaum's book, and I thought for 10 bucks, shucks, what have I got to lose??? I have had some crazy vision problems the last few years.

    You know, now that I know all the signs and symptoms and the things to look for in a house, I really think we possibly/probably had mold in our old house too. This has probably been going on for quite some time with me. :(

    Well, I like what Forebearance said, that I should think of this as pointing to the road to wellness!!

    Thanks everyone.
  8. desertlass

    desertlass New Member

    Since they responded to your thread Jewel, I will just answer them here. Thanks for the space.

    GA Psych-- there is a site called Environix that trains companies how to do the remediation safely, in terms of containment and protecting the workers.

    They have a section you can click on called 5 Ways to Look for Mold or something like that. It has a little cartoon guy to click on.

    If you already know you have leaks, then you might also have some mold you don't know about. Or maybe not, hopefully. If you can find a company to do a mold inspection for you, I think that would be a good idea.

    I think one good way to find an inspector is if he agrees up front to let you use your own independent lab for the results.

    Also, he should be agreeable to the idea that you might also not want to use him for remediation. You simply want an inspection.

    This might avoid all the conflict of interest stuff that could result in some of the "scams". It does seem like "one stop shopping" is not necessarily the way to go with this. But that is just an idea on my part. I have not yet dealt with anyone besides the lab.

    I used the same lab as Forebearance-- Mouldworks. They did not recommend anyone for remediation. It cost $45 dollars, including the rubber gloves, face mask and tape to lift any sample that might be found. There are instructions for how to do it and send it. Twice, he got back to me in about a week.

    We got another test from that my sweet husband impulsively picked up at Home Depot that cost $12 for the little petri dish, swab up the stuff with a long q-tip thing, and then you have to pay another $45 after you send them the dish for them to analyze it. We still have not heard back from them.

    I wasn't really "into" that test, and I don't expect to hear anything useful from it. But my dh seemed to think it would be a good idea to have a "back up". I think it was more of a protective impulse to at least do "something" to help me with my distress.

    Even if a person doesn't believe in toxic mold, I think no one can argue with the idea that water damaged wood is good for a house, that any kind of mold is good for wood, and that since damage from that is not covered by insurance, it's a good idea to stay vigilant about it. Advice that I wish I'd had LONG ago.

    Tansy-- I'm wondering if the fact that the mildew keeps coming back in that spot at the very least shows that there might be a moisture problem in that corner.

    It's like your house is giving you a clue with the mildew that something in that area is not drying out thoroughly. Most kinds of "regular" mildew or mold needs somewhat steady supply of moisture. The toxic kind is a different situation.

    So, at the worst, you could have unchecked toxic mold growing behind that area. Ugh.

    At the best it might be that the ventilation is poor and that new colonies keep forming from various spores that normally float around. The fan might be insufficient or the vent pipe might be blocked with debris.

    Somewhere in the middle might be that you have a leak behind that corner and the wood is getting wet. I would HOPE that an insurance policy would cover that. If you rent, then the owner I would HOPE would be glad to know.

    Another middle thing might be that some sort of mold has started to grow behind there and as Lisa said, is coming through the wall.

    I feel like the main thing I learned about all of this is become vigilant about any possible water source, from rain to pipes to floods, and to suspect anyplace that can get wet but is trapped in some way that it can't dry out. In my case it was fake paneling over top of the drywall under my sink. I never would have known if I had not pried back the panel.

    This is like "preventative medicine". I know, I know-- who has the energy/money for that while we've been trying to survive with this illness, and take care of others' needs, etc.

    So, let us all take a "no self-blame" pact. This is the part that I am struggling with the most, because I feel like I have been the equivalent of a "bad parent" to my house and now I am worrying about losing it. Like when our child is sick and we fret that we didn't do enough to protect them.

    I had to laugh today, because my best friend needed to be rushed to the ER, so as I pulled out of my driveway to go pick up her child, I noticed that our car is leaking some sort of fluid. Could be just some temporary AC-related thing... could be expensive, who knows.

    I feel like I'm on one of those "how much more crazy and stressful can this situation get? The answer to that is the sky is the limit, unfortunately, so the absurdity of it all gives us a brief moment to laugh in between the freak outs.

    I just keep thinking, it's a good thing that my butt has gotten bigger over the last few years, because something is constantly coming back to bite it.

    Lisette



    [This Message was Edited on 07/11/2008]
  9. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I somehow had missed that your mold problem was behind fake paneling.

    That was where my main problem was too (though some also was in the attic).

    Getting rid of all fake paneling now seems to me to be a really good idea. I do not understand why anybody ever decided to use it.

    In a similar vein....some companies sell bathtub liners that you can use rather than putting in a new bathtub.

    Apparently this is a horrible idea! Mold grows like crazy between the bathtub and the liner.

    It's bad enough that we've moved to building houses out of paper (dry wall). This fake cover-up stuff now seems to me even worse though.
  10. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    Hi Jewel,

    I'm sorry to have overwhelmed you. Please hang in there!

    Aw, Lisette, your husband is sweet.

    How could you have known there was mold growing in that out of the way place? Unless you were a trained mold inspector, who would think to look there?

    I hope your life gets less stressful. That was a great humorous line.

    Love,
    Forebearance
  11. busybusymom

    busybusymom New Member

    Jewel - I am furious about your situation. I would call an attorney on Monday to see if you are w/in statute of limitations to go after the selling realtor, inspector, AND the sellers. If you are w/in statute, I would get an attorney ASAP and start the suing process.

    I am one whose DD started with poor clean up of a flood we had in our home - got sick 1-1/2 years AFTER ONLY the BASEBOARDS were taken off (NO drywall) and the SAME carpet was put back into the house. Low and behold, not until 5 years later, numerous doctors, and now a marriage that is ending in divorce because of my DD, did I find out we had TOXIC MOLD growing in the house in ALL the walls that were hit by water. Needless to say, we are suing the restoration company (we lost the battle with the insurance company). You can check out my other posts.

    I have no doubt your health is deteriorating due to the mold. You have to get out and unfortunately remediate ASAP. We had our entire downstairs remediated (20 grand), then had to put it all back together, get new furniture, new mattresses, new bedding, towels, etc. - On top of it I moved out for 1 yr and 9 months to get better (which didn't help the marriage situation - though I thought things were better...). So betweent out of living expenses (didn't have anyone close to live with - had to get an apt), remediation, and putting the house back, it ended up costing in the three figures.

    Take your family and go live w/your mom. You CANNOT be there when they remediate. Even though they will seal the areas, it is not safe as spores (even though they use negative air pressure and shoot the air out a window), could leach through.

    My doctor told me that these toxic molds can cause cancer later on in life - I worry about my kids who have been exposed longer than me.

    As far as selling your home, you will have a mark on it, just like we do. My soon-to-be-ex WANTS the house, so he is buying me out - BUT, I know he will have a heck of a time trying to sell if he chooses to later on. Nowadays a "clue" report can be pulled and it will show if your home has had any insurance claims on it. Not good.

    Most important thing is to get out, get the house remediated, and SUE those $%@% if at all possible. Anyone who would sell a home for the benefit of a commission (and I do blame the selling agent BIG time), needs a big kick in the butt with a lawsuit. And those sellers need one too.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Busybusymom
  12. JewelRA

    JewelRA New Member

    I am so sorry I can't respond personally to everyone who has posted on this topic. But I have read and appreciate everyone!

    Livvy,

    I was thinking along the same lines as you, getting a sample tested. We live near U.A.B., so I am sure they coudl do some kind of testing, with no interest in making money from it.

    Fortunately, the guys who gave us an inspection last week did a free inspection. One company I called wanted $195 for the first 90 minutes, and an addtional $145 per hour for anything over that!!! Now, I'm sorry, that IS a scam!!!

    Thanks for your perspective.
  13. tig519

    tig519 Member

    I'm sorry for those who discovered substantial mold growth after they purchased a home that they didn't know had mold.

    Just a few comments:

    Home inspectors will specifically state they can only check for things that visible. They make no guarantees about things behind walls, for example. That could be electrical (that doesn't show in the outlet) or mold, or lack of proper insulation. Unless the mold was "out in the open" you're not going to have any recourse with your inspector. My inspector provided me a 40 page report with pictures. Not sure if you have something like that, but it may be worth looking to see how much he examined the area in question.

    As for the previous owners, they may not have known either. The key to having any claim against the owner is that they knew and there was evidence that they COVERED it up.

    Preventing mold- Periodically check areas for leaks- Plumbing areas (tubs, shows, sinks, toilets). Fix immediately. Remove all sheetrock associated with the leak (don't just fix the leak). There is mold resistant sheetrock, but I've been told an acrylic sealer is better money spent. It actually prevents mold build.

    If you have a sump pump, make sure it's in working order.

    Most contractors don't seal their grout- make sure you do this (pretty easy and makes cleaning much easier). Check failure of caulk or grout yearly. Re-caulking and grouting are do-it-yourself items.

    Someone mentioned buildup in their shower area and no fan. Many homes with separate shower stalls, don't have a fan installed in the shower stall. You may be able to depending on location. Keep in mind the exhaust has to go outside or serves no purpose and will possibly cause mold in your attic. If you can't have a fan installed, a dehumidifier will help decrease the moisture. Also, using a squeegee on ceiling and walls will also eliminate the excess moisture from having to dry. I agree with the other person who said their could be something else happening on the other side of the wall/ceiling. Could be the previous owner never dealt with it and let it build up to the point that it's in the wall and they just painted over.

    On that note, check your exhaust fans and dryer fan exhaust. Ensure they haven't disconnected along their way to the outdoors. My dryer vents through the roof as it's on the 2nd floor. Going up is not what dryers are meant to do, not enough force. Luckily they make this great invention- a fan booster for it. It only goes on when the dryer is on and helps suck the moist air out of the house where it belongs!

    Check your windows and look for two things... appropriate caulk and failure of the outside trim- it could mean water is getting in and rotting out the wood from the inside out. One note on this, if there are cheap windows in your home and they are over 15 years, it may have nothing to do with leakage, but will cause you leakage. There are ways to remediate those windows before leaks happen. You could wrap your windows in pvc or aluminum. It will last you a good 10+ years. It won't prevent the windows themselves from eventually needing replacement, but it will buy you some time to plan for the expense.

    Remember- beside having a spore, mold needs warmth and moisture. Just because there is a leak or water damage doesn't mean you have mold either. Taking care of it right away, is key to ensure you never let that stray spore start a colony. I had a relative whose house was slowly being eaten away from a leak from an upstairs bathroom. Tens of thousands in damage- but no mold! It wasn't until they saw paint starting to peal away from the ceiling that they discovered 4 rooms that had to be demo'd and rebuilt- I think the floor was the only thing not damaged.

    Hope this helps