Showing posts with label mold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mold. Show all posts

Friday, February 27, 2015

Etta James lied

There's no fun to be had in the basement. A few weekends back the weather was terrible and I suggested to Greg that we watch House of Cards all weekend on the couch and he was like, "Yeah! Let's do that."

Greg almost always spends his weekends working. I tend to spend it puttering in the garden. Our only daytime interaction tends to be me knocking on the office window, and screaming, "You should come outsiiiiiide! It's so pretty out!"

So we had a nice plan to spend the day together. Then he said, "I just have to answer a couple of emails," and I said, "I'm going to vacuum the laundry room." (Don't judge.) Fast forward six hours and we hadn't spent any time together and I had demo'ed this closet in the laundry room.

It wasn't original to the house and it was completely useless. It was so deep that things would just disappear into it. At some point we decided we should get rid of it. I've been decluttering the house for the last couple of months, and there was so much crap we didn't need hiding in here. Somehow vacuuming led to pulling everything of this cabinet.

Like a jerk, I ran upstairs and said, "Instead of watching Netflix all day in our jammies, how about we demo that cabinet in the laundry room?" and Greg stared at me and silently calculated whether he actually wants to marry me. But because I am a jerk, I was like, "This crazy train has left the station and this shit is happening!" and I just demo'ed it myself.

It turns out that the cabinet was rotting, which made it really easy to tear apart. Also, the emergency water we had stored in the bottom had leaked and we had mold underneath. It was gross and I'll spare you any photos. Armed with my respirator mask, I attacked it with bleach, the air purifier, and the dehumidifier.

The only thing that was dicey about the whole endeavor was the fact that the cabinet was built right next to our water main. Which has an electrical ground for the living room attached to it. No pressure.

Greg picked up more of the resin shelves we already had and filled them with all of his stuff. I know this probably doesn't look better to other people, but it makes me SO happy every time I go in the basement. We have airflow to the floor, which is always good in a basement.

Also? Our basement doesn't smell musty anymore. The nervous, superstitious part of me thinks the musty smell will come back (it IS a basement) but for now I am so relieved to have that mold harboring cabinet out of there. And now our emergency water is stored on a metal rack over by the floor drain.

We've also go you covered on tonic water, should an emergency hit and you need a mixer for your gin. Priorities!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I really am just defective . . . and I'm very happy about it.

Happy dance! The appraisal for my mortgage refinance came back at $75K more than my purchase price. I want to think that it's because I put in a pretty garden and painted the rooms nice colors but I know it comes down to the improving economy and housing market.

The best part is that this picture of our dining room was immortalized in the appraisal. Last year I hung a banner for Greg's birthday that said, "Happy Fucking Birthday" and we've been swapping it around ever since. It currently says "grab it funky chap."

But seriously, whew.

We also got the official report back on the indoor air quality tests and they show no abnormally high pollen, mold, or bacteria counts. Pollen counts were especially high this year so I may just be reacting to that, or I'm allergic to Greg. My allergies started when he moved in, have I mentioned that?

I'm just one of those dorky kids with an inhaler and I couldn't be happier! I ordered my air purifier and I'll report back if it helps or not.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Perhaps I am just defective

Would you like me to write you a check? How about you over there? Or do you prefer Visa?

Someone told me, right after I bought my house, that your house and your car secretly conspire with each other to have problems at the same time. September has been EXPENSIVE. Between refinancing, freaking out about mold, and having the ducts cleaned, my wallet is hurting.

My car got hit by another hit and run last month, while sitting in front of our house. They took off my driver's side mirror, which I later found hiding in the hellstrip. $247 later and I feel like I should never park my car on any public Portland streets, ever. This is after I just got my car repaired from the last hit and run.

I had Garrett out from Mold Testing Services of Oregon to inspect the house for evidence of mold that could be triggering my allergies ($450). I told a friend that I don't know what I fear more: that they'll find a horrible mold infestation or that they'll find nothing and it will turn out that I'm just one of those wheezy asthmatic kids who can't play tetherball because my lungs are stupid.

He spent two hours using a moisture sensor and crawling through the crawlspaces and attic, as well as combing every inch of the basement and the rest of the house (even the closets, ack). He had some suggestions but returned no smoking gun. He ran two air culture tests, and he expects them to come back normal. He said this is a very well built house. I gotta say, this guy was so nice to work with.

He said it seemed like I did a good job installing the laminate flooring in the basement and sees no reason to remove it. GO ME. Score one for doing it yourself.

He recommended tightening the toilet bolts because, despite replacing the wax ring and using a dime to shim the toilet, it's still rocking. I can't believe my dime trick didn't work. He suggested calling a plumber so they could do it right. Score one for calling in a professional. He said to get rid of the carpet on the basement stairs because, no shit Sherlock, it's disgusting.

He recommended an air purifier for me, which should help my allergies tremendously. Who wants to bet I should have just done that and called it a day? He also said that the soil grading in our yard was fucked up (the dirt slopes toward the house instead of away from it). Do you want to know where it's fucked up? Right where that guy drove his bobcat through our yard to remove the concrete slab. I'm fairly certain that most of the world's problems can be traced back to that unlicensed jerk riding his Bobcat of Destruction through our yard. Cholera epidemic? That guy. Hurricanes in the south? The weather gods are punishing us for hiring that guy when he probably wasn't bonded.

While we were exploring the basement we noticed that there was water all around the furnace. The condensation pump had misfired, overheated, and melted in places. I initially thought the guy from Power Vac broke it but Jacob's (who installed my furnace) said it was just funny timing.

Ha ha ha ha! Hoo. Ha. ($275) I'm laughing so hard I'm crying now! But I am grateful it didn't start a fire. I'm glad I was in the basement with the mold dude and we were looking at things with a critical eye. This is good.

I also went shopping with Scott this weekend, to Wind Dancer Garden. We had just seen Carolyn Kolb speak on ornamental grasses last Tuesday and she is a wonderful speaker. I cannot recommend making a trip to Salem to see her enough. She and her husband are incredibly sweet, the nursery is gorgeous, and they have all sorts of wonderful grasses and bamboos you can't find anywhere else.

13 big pots of grasses for less than $100. Gardening, I love you more and more every day. We also hit up Dancing Oaks and almost got lost outside of Monmouth, where surely the hill people would have murdered us. So that's a silver lining, too: we didn't get murdered by hill people. Now I just need a little bit of rain to make the ground workable. JUST A LITTLE, OREGON. DON'T START WITH THE FULL-ON RAINY SEASON JUST YET.

In conclusion:

  1. Don't park your car on the streets of Portland. 
  2. My house looks nice today. I paid a lot of money to hear that.
  3. If you have terrible allergies, get an air purifier and THEN do all this other stuff if it doesn't fix it.
  4. Carolyn Kolb is a groovy chick and you should totally go to Wind Dancer.
  5. I may just be one those dorky asthmatic kids, unable to eat birthday cake at school because I have a peanut allergy.
  6. If you do have allergies, Flonase is a life saver.
  7. I can't make any of the suggested fixes for a couple of months because I am out of money.
  8. My hard drive is making a funny noise. Isn't that funny timing?
But I am alive, mostly healthy, and still a very lucky girl. I'll quit bitching now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I just neti-potted my house's sinuses

At the risk of making sure that no one comes to visit me ever, I'm going to tell you about my basement of horrors.

Life has been a little hectic around here lately. I'm refinancing, which means getting an appraisal, which means trying to tidy up the house and fretting a lot. One source of stress was the basement, which has one corner that smells strongly of mildew. I've been worried that we have mold growing underneath the laminate flooring in there. My allergies have been unbearable for the last six months and while most mold is a nuisance and not a true hazard, I was starting to worry.

Greg is only worried that the castor bean plant is now taller than him.

Greg is 6'2'. Audrey is topping 7' now.

I called Oregon Restoration and asked them to put in a bid to tear out the flooring and do mold remediation in there. Ryan came out and took a look and advised against tearing out the floor. He said that mold doesn't really thrive against concrete unless it has something to feed it, like wood or paper. The vapor barrier and the laminate don't really create an environment to support a bloom. He thought it more likely that there's mold on the back of the drywall.

I was like, "Why don't I just pay you to tear out the flooring anyway?" and he advised to wait until the rainy weather returns, so we can find out if there's water coming in. Then they can solve the moisture issue and explore behind the drywall. I was so ready to give him a bunch of money and he just wasn't having it.

In the meantime he said to call an environmental analyst to find out if we actually have a mold growth and what kind it is. They do readings inside and out to see if the readings are abnormally high inside the house. He also said to have the ducts cleaned, something I had been pondering last fall. He cautioned that the companies that charge $79 do a bait-and-switch where they quote you a low price, then once they are inside the house, claim they've found something awful and need $500 if they're going to do it right. He recommended Power Vac, so I called them out.

I really wanted to have my ducts cleaned last November but the Internet was so full of conflicting information. Ducts are too slippery to hold dust so duct cleaning is a waste of money! The mold retardants they use are more toxic than the dust! If you don't clean your ducts you'll get the Hanta virus! On and on.

Well, I can officially confirm that my ducts can hold dust. A lot of it. The dude from Power Vac, who was incredibly nice, declared them "pretty grody."


And after:

DAYAM. And another:



They run a pipe from their truck into your furnace, so all the stuff they are sucking out goes into a containment system outside the house. They didn't spray any chemicals into my vents, which I was pretty happy about. It is incredibly loud, what with the big sucking hose and the little hose hooked up to the air compressor to blow all the dust out.

I'm not holding out much hope for this improving my allergies (I really think it's mold) but I am so glad I did this. They are running a 10% off special right now, so it came to about $300. It took about 3.5 hours to complete. They only recommend doing it every 5-7 years, so it really seemed worth it. I'll report back if my allergies improve. In the meantime I'm not going to show you pictures of the ENORMOUS spiders we've been finding in the basement because I'm already worried you won't come to my slumber party. My mom bought Otter Pops and my sister said we can borrow her Oiuja board and everything! Come on, guys.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My room got shocked

Have you heard about this product that eliminates mold, mildew, and odors? It's called Room Shocker or roomSHOCKER, depending on what part of their website you're visiting. Something similar was apparently used in houses that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina to eliminate mold. I read about it some time ago on Apartment Therapy, bought some on Amazon, then forgot about it.

Photo yanked from Apartment Therapy

I've been having really bad allergies ever since Greg moved in; I wake up in the morning, start sneezing, keep sneezing, and then sneeze some more. My friend Erin cheerfully informed me recently, "You probably have mold!" Then my parents came to visit and my father, whose super sense of smell I inherited, started sniffing around my basement. Does it always smell like mildew down here? Before Greg moved in, I always left the door to the basement shut. Ever since he moved in we leave it open. I don't know why we do that, but I'm thinking that maybe an allergen from down there is wafting into the rest of the house.

So yeah, I gave Room Shocker a shot. It's pretty easy to use. You open up what looks like a frappucchio container, read the instructions that are by turns breezy, then terrifying. "Room Shocker is all natural and cannot hurt you. Fill the container with warm water to the line indicated on the cup. DO NOT FILL WATER BEYOND THIS LINE. DO NOT TOUCH THE PACKET. LEAVE THE ROOM IMMEDIATELY. There's no need to leave the house, if you don't wish, as Room Shocker is completely harmless!"

I filled my cup, ran out of the basement, then left for work. But first I started second-guessing that I pushed the packet down far enough, so I went back into the basement to find a cup full of noxious yellow liquid that made my eyes burn. Whew, I did it right.

Seven hours later I returned home to find that you could smell the chlorine from outside the house. I can't imagine trying to stay inside the house all day. I decided to open some windows, leave again, and buy a bird feeder. I had a gift card from when I got my backyard habitat certification.

They were all sold out of the Squirrel Buster 3000

The Backyard Bird Shop is so. much. fun. They're so excited that you're getting your first bird feeder! They're so knowledgeable! My salesperson was A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E. I love that stores like this thrive in Portland.

So far my allergies aren't any better which means that it didn't work, or I don't have mold and I'm allergic to something else, or I'm allergic to Greg. So now is the time for all the worriers to come out of the woodwork and warn me that I have black mold and that I'm going to die. Or that chlorine causes cancer and I'm gonna die. Because I don't worry about that stuff enough as it is.