Previously, I posted interesting facts about mold, one of the most troublesome issues facing homeowners today. Mold does not have to be the end of the world. Mold spores are everywhere; chances are they are in YOUR home, waiting for the perfect combination of moisture and temperature to germinate. I would like to share how mold affected my family.
Real estate agents are not mold experts. This is not the advice of a mold professional. Always have a home inspection before purchasing a home. I have linked several resources at the end, so scroll down if you have no patience for all my ramblings.
In 1996, we became first time homebuyers and bought a $50,000 fixer upper in Pike County. Since my husband Glenn Rice is a professional carpenter and we knew the home needed work, we didn’t have a home inspection. (insert: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Get a home inspection!)
After closing on the house, we paid little attention to the mildew we washed off the bedroom and closet walls. I was more concerned about replacing the burnt orange shag carpets.
Soon after moving in, our baby daughter developed respiratory problems. She had so many ear and sinus infections and such difficulty breathing that sleep was difficult for her. She would struggle and fight against me when I put her to bed. I assumed she just didn’t want to go to bed. I was bothered, wondering what was making her so sick so often. She had never been sick before we moved in.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics, advising us to keep a vaporizer in her bedroom. We had no Internet to discover the horrors of mold. The recurring mildew/mold around the windows was merely a nuisance; it would disappear once we replaced the drafty old windows, or so I thought.
After several rounds of antibiotics that didn’t work, I worried about her health issues. I noticed that within minutes of putting her to bed, her symptoms worsened: gagging, difficulty breathing, coughing, lots of mucus. Doctor said it was because she was laying flat and to elevate the crib mattress, which I did…but when she was lying beside me (flat) on the living room sofa, she was fine.
While I kept the surface of her bedroom walls clean, I never thought to check the closet, even though I noticed several outfits were mildewed. Not always the brightest bulb in the circuit, I assumed I was not getting clothes from the washer to the dryer in time. Hey, I was a young mom. Sometimes I forgot a load of laundry and had to rewash it.
When I saw that clothes stored in the spare bedroom closet were mildewed, including my wedding dress, I finally realized we had a mold infestation. I mentioned this to the doctor and was angry when he scorned me, condescendingly saying: “You just let me be the doctor, Mrs. Rice.”
A respected pediatrician with a thriving practice nearby, he had been practising medicine longer than I was alive (maybe not that long, but close enough), and he laughed at me. Stating she was too young to have developed allergies, he prescribed a NEW antibiotic, telling me to continue running the vaporizer. Put more moisture in a room with an existing mold problem? Give a poor little body more antibiotics that obviously are not helping?
Previously, when she struggled against me at bedtime, I thought it was simply because she didn’t want to go to bed. Now I felt she was trying to tell me she didn’t want to go in her room. So, instead of her crib, I put her to sleep in the playpen in our bedroom. She slept like the proverbial baby. No congestion, no gagging, no coughing.
I was triumphant. How dare that doctor laugh at me! Once we moved her out of her room, the symptoms disappeared!
I gave the doctor an earful, informing him that the mold was the problem and we would find a doctor who wouldn’t scornfully laugh at mother’s intuition. Hopefully, by this time, he has read Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals.
We took the bull by the horns and fixed the mold problem before it worsened. Mold + time = disaster. I felt it was our problem and our fault for not having a home inspection. Our REALTOR knew my husband was a professional contractor, so it really was we who dropped the ball here.
When Glenn gutted that little bedroom, we were shocked at the infestation of mold we found in the insulation and on the semi-rotted studs. When the previous owner replaced the roof, no thought was given to water damage inside the walls caused by the leaky roof. It was the perfect environment for mold growth.
Thankfully our ending is happy, though 16 years later our home is a perpetual work in progress, as many fixer uppers are!
Mold problems worsen over time. I’ve read about homeowners facing chronic mold, and much time was wasted with lawsuits trying to force someone else to pay for it before having it fixed. When mold is found, remediate as soon as possible. In this battle, your worst enemy besides moisture is time. While many are allergic to all kinds of mold, only a percentage of the mold found in homes is actually toxic black mold.
If you have a mold infestation, contact a mold remediation company immediately. Time is of the essence!
MORE INFO ON MOLD IN THE HOME: