A young couple with a newborn baby were living in a house that seemed to have a mold problem. The baby had severe respiratory issues and the young woman was experiencing some issues as well – she felt noticeably bad in certain rooms of the house.
The couple alerted their rental company that they thought there was a mold problem. The rental company did not take their complaints seriously and mocked the young woman. They sent a corporate mold professional who identified a small area of mold in the kitchen (unrelated to the larger problem) but did not address the rest of the house.
The couple then contacted me for help. Inspecting inside the house, I noticed spotting on the ceilings and doorways that looked like visible mold growth. The red circle in the photo below shows discoloration on the ceiling next to a smoke alarm – this discoloration is most likely mold.
When I inspected outside, I noticed that the house was slightly lower than the yard. The red arrows in the photos show the slope, thus the direction of water movement. The photo of the carport shows that the concrete pad is holding water.
Several of the crawlspace vents had these metal half rings around them, which was a sign that there had been moisture issues before at this house – someone may have added these as a preventative measure to keep water from getting in the crawlspace.
When I looked into the crawlspace, I noticed discoloration that may have been mold on the wooden floor joists. The biggest clue in the following photo, however is the brick. There are white mineral deposits on the brick below ground level from frequent water infiltration into the crawlspace.
I measured the moisture content in the wood underside of the floor – it was nearly 100% in some areas.
Returning back inside the house I found the element that would help me formulate my hypothesis of how the moisture from the crawlspace was effecting the house. There was a whole house fan inside. When in use, this fan would suck air up, from the house and into the attic. These fans were designed to help with cooling. Unfortunately, they also suck air up through the floor from the crawlspace. This can easily result in mold problems in humid locations.
Since there was high moisture in the crawlspace, the fan was sucking up moist air into the house, where it made surfaces more moist than normal, providing conditions for mold to thrive. There may have also been mold in the crawlspace, and it may have been migrating into the house thanks to the fan.
Since the couple living in this house were renters, they were at the mercy of their rental company to fix these problems. Rather than trusting them to do so, they decided the best course of action would be to try to break their lease. They used my report on the mold and moisture issues in the home as leverage and were able to move on to a healthier location.
© 2019 – Kristina Hicks-Hamblin – The Healthy Homestead