CommunityMy Home Is Sick: Need Help

My Home Is Sick: Need Help


I found your website and I have been reading the articles. I have not found one that addresses my issue so I am writing to you. I am at my wits end with my house. I love the title of your of website because I have put a lot of money in my house and I still cannot sleep comfortable at night.

We are having symptoms that can be related to mold but we cannot find evidence of mold in the house.

Here is my background: I live in FL in a 1960 remolded brick house (1400sq) that is 100% tile and I have no pets. I do have ceiling fans and central air. I lived in the house for the last 3 years and for the last 2 we had several issues with mold that were fixed and remediated. Someone thought, maybe I did not get “all” the mold. Now, I still feel like “an eyelash” is in my eyes. This can be sitting up or lying down. My eight year old daughter complains her eyelashes hurt and her underarms itch. When she first walks into the house after being gone for several hours, she will sneeze at least 1x within 5-10min. It normally takes me longer to sneeze, but I will, let’s say in the afternoon after being home all day. Since Oct 2015, I had several inspections to include thermal imaging and have no water leaks on the plumbing, roof, foundation or windows. All the areas that were previous affected were rechecked and nothing was identified by the camera or moisture meter. I have leather living room furniture and have taken out all the area rugs. I have central air and I have had the air ducts cleaned. I am changing my air filter 1x a month. In Oct, I also had my AC Tech open the inside of the AC unit and there is no condensation or mold visual on the coils or the blower. He installed a UV light. For the last 2 weeks that AC unit has been off because of the nice temperatures and I am still have the symptoms (AC on or off does not matter).

I had 2 Air Quality inspections. In Oct, the mold count for one room Main Living/Kitchen was a total of 11 (AC on) Ascospores (1) Aspergillus/Penicillium (6), Basidiospores (2), Curvularia (1), Smut/Myxomyces/Pericona (1). In Dec, I used a different Air Quality Inspection Company who used a different lab company. He checked three different rooms (AC Off). Main Living/Kitchen 17 -Ascospores (1), Basidiospores (12), Cladosporium (2), Ganoderma (2). My Daughter’s bedroom-Basidiospores (9). Master Bedroom-Basidospores (6), Cladosporium (2) and Pencillium/Aspergillus (1). Both Inspectors are saying these numbers are so low that we should not be having these symptoms.

In Dec, I had my Carpenter to take down all old 1960 wood which included top kitchen cabinets, hall closets (framing, doors, baseboards) and 2 bedroom closets (framing, doors, baseboards). I used to say my daughter bedroom smelled like my grandma (this was her bedroom before she died). When we removed the baseboards in my daughter’s bedroom closet the “funny” smell began stronger. But, there was no mold on the back of the baseboards. Then, I had 2 feet of plaster drywall cut at the bottom of the closet and there was no mold on the back of the drywall. Yet, the strong smell persisted. I then cut out the firm strips along the framing. The smell persisted. I have treated the wood framing with Fiberlock detergent and a brush. After that treatment I painted the exposed beams with a mold killing white primer. There is still a very faint odor when you walk in the closet. Is the smell connected to the allergy symptoms? Should I cut more dry wall and possible the wood framing?

I am confused because our symptoms can be felt in any room in the house. My daughter tested for allergies of dust, cats, dogs, oak trees. My test said I had no allergens. I have the special pillow cases and mattress pads. This has been a persistent issue. I am planning to have another air quality inspection to see what my numbers are all my latest efforts. I have wiped down every wall, floor, ceiling and baseboard with warm water and white vinegar. The house has new paint as of three years ago. I purchased the led paint test kit and rubbed it on all walls and it did not change colors.

Can this be from a gas? I have propane water heater, stove and oven. I changed my cooked top in Sep because with my old cooktop the pilot was lit all the time. When my new one was install (goes click, click then fires) the gas company came out to inspect and did a pressure test, everything was okay. I have a carbon monoxide monitor. We don’t have the symptoms of the radon gas. The only other gas I heard of was plumbing gas. All my plumbing seems ok. The last inspector says I can get a more expensive test to see anything is “off-gassing.” He also said there was some expensive solution that is used to clean sports locker rooms that can be sprayed in my house. As you may have guessed my anxiety is high over my house. Plus, my money is running low.


The Money Pit Answer

Hi Erica, I'm sorry to hear about the troubles with your house.  One question I have -- do your family's symptoms persist when you at NOT at home?  Have you take a few days away from the house and noticed the symptoms decrease?  If so, then the home may very well be the issue.

Its not possible to diagnose this from afar but I would be looking for a building scientist to help.  Diagnosing sick homes is very special skill and while some inspectors may find limited issues, its possible that they could miss the root of the problem.  

The other idea I might suggest you consider is an air ERV or HRV unit.  These are air to air heat exchangers that allow fresh air to enter the building to replace the stale air inside, but recover and heat or cool in the air so as to not drove up energy bills.  

Hope this is of some help.