Mold: Damage Control

Posted to Subscribers on 8 July 2007


It's been a while since I wrote to this list, but I have had a lot of email lately about people living in the parts of the country where there is rain, rain, and more rain.  I'm happy to say, it's been remarkably dry here for the last few days, really nice reprieve.

The questions being asked are ones that have been generally touched on before, but I might as well repeat a bit for the benefit of new subscribers and those whose situations have changed since the previous posts.

According to the instructors at the mold seminar where I was certified, all contaminated material, unless irreplaceable or incredibly valuable needs to be thrown away.  The reason is that the dry mold is irritating and sometimes just as toxic as the viable mold.  There are some items of tremendous sentimental value or material value that can be remediated but in most instances remediation is not cost effective.

The mold will not stop growing until the moisture intrusion issues are resolved.  I never quite finished my tale of the remediation.  I thought people were tired of reading about what I did, but now that I have been mold-free for a while, I think I should finish the story.  The most important action I took was to remove the vapor barrier under the house and then remove all the organic material (sticks, wood particles, mushrooms, and tree stumps.)  I sprayed the ground with an orange concentrate and wild oregano oil.  I am not sure if this had much effect, but I did it.  All the insulation was also removed.  Despite what the lawyers, insurance company, and builder said, there was simply no way the subfloor was going to dry out until there was better air circulation.  The vapor barrier was replaced with the CleanSpace Encapsulation System.  It's a patented process, clever, but I would probably never go that route again.  The alternatives considered were a concrete that is rubberized and sprayed under the house. It is applied about 3 inches thick and takes a month to cure.  I thought the amount of humidity involved in the process would be excessive.  Besides, it costs twice as much as the CleanSpace.  There are other systems similar to CleanSpace that are a bit less expensive, but the idea is to prevent moisture from the ground from moving into your living and breathing space.  It is estimated that a third to one half of the air in the house is affected by the air in the crawl space.

None of these measures actually did the trick.  I ended up putting an exhaust fan in one of the vents under the house.  It automatically takes a temperature and humidity reading and decides whether to turn itself on or not.  I hated it at first; it took a long time for the air to stabilize because so much material was drying out.

The garage floor sealant also did not quite do the job.  Condensation was forming and dripping from the ceiling.  I sealed the floor with something from  I think it is a good product, but then I applied an acrylic paint from Home Depot, nasty odor but it only smelled bad when wet and was practically odorless as soon as it dried.  The garage looks like a car showroom floor but there was still a little condensation so I put a dehumifier in the garage.  It is also a brilliantly designed "toy" because it has multiple filters plus a UV light.

This ended the mold problems but then there was a mildew issue.  You can imagine, I was exhausted, fed up, and tormented.  Various geniuses and practical people helped me to brain storm where on earth the odor was coming from.   I decided that I would flush all the pipes and down spouts with a pressure washer. That seemed to do it.  Knock on wood, there has not been any problem now for half a year or more.  You have all observed that my energy level has improved so I feel the remediation is finally complete.

Compared to some of those writing, my problems were so minor.  There never was any visible mold inside the house.  There were very small areas of mold under the vapor barrier and on one wall of the garage, very small.  Despite this, I was very sick and lost five pets so I can only imagine how much worse it is when stachybotrys is dripping off the walls.

Unlike chemical toxins where the damage is proportionate to the exposure, with mold, there is no evidence to support that a low level of exposure is any safer than a massive level of exposure.  If someone is allergic to fungi, a single peanut can send someone into anaphylactic shock so all the opinions to the contrary are either ignorant or they they are deliberate attempts on the part of landlords, builders, and insurers to downplay the gravity of mold.

At various times, I have said that if I had understood what I was getting into and what I would face, I would have left a long time ago.  There is a part of me that believes this and another part that is very excited about what I have learned and what I can now share.

I did my first ever podcast last Thursday and the interview will be available online on July 20th.  In this podcast, I begin to unfold the medical significance of what I have learned and I think many of you will want to hear the interview.  In the meantime, I would like to reiterate that mold remediation is usually considered a job for specially trained and equipped professionals.  If the contaminated area exceeds one square foot, you might consider that remediation is not a task for do-it-yourselfers.

If you go back to my web site, you will see the proper attire as well as very clear pictures of what you need to achieve to prevent moisture and foul air from becoming part of your living space.





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