January 1, 2008
When I first got back to my house in October, 2005, I thought I had dodged a bullet. The house was still standing, and I didn't see any sign of the black mold that everyone else had.
That's why I was so so so shocked to learn that my house actually had mold. After all, I thought I followed the proper procedures: I gutted 1/2 of my house―you see since I had 6 feet of water in my neighborhood, and my house was raised 3 feet off the ground, I assumed I needed to gut only 4 feet of my wall from the floor. The studs were pressure washed with water and bleach. But there were two things I did not consider:
1. The water that seeped into the house from the damaged roof remained there, even as the roof was closed up, and caused mold to grow in my walls. We just discovered black mold in the area where the roof was damaged (two years after my house was gutted).
2. My historic shotgun house is made of barge boards covered in burlap and then drywall for the finished wall. When I moved into the house, I reinforced the walls with 2x4 studs and added insulation. When we gutted the house, we only removed the drywall over the 2x4 studs (4 feet from floor to ceiling),and removed none of the older drywall over the original barge board.
Thank you to Norm Abram! He began removing the drywall from the barge board and discovered mold between the two. We also found mold abundantly growing in different parts of the walls and ceilings (of course, especially where the tree fell)!
I am very fortunate to not only have been educated about mold, but to have had my house remediated for mold by Dr. Eric Griggs of the Breathe Again Foundation and EnviroMed. Dr Griggs is a physician who became certified as a mold remediator and inspector and started his company, EnviroMed after Hurricane Katrina to provide people with education and mold remediation for healthy air quality in their homes. Dr Griggs came with his team and properly remediated my home. I was sure when he first came to my home that the mold remediator from two years ago had completely annihilated the mold that was trying to live there with his concoction of bleach and water (pre-mold-remediation education).
But I learned that like so many of my neighbors, my house was not properly mold remediated and some areas were not even touched. I should have gutted my entire house―all of the walls and ceiling. Bleach and pressure washing is not sufficient. Dr. Griggs used a soda blaster to clean the studs and barge board, a certified mold remediation solution to chemically remove the mold, and sealed my house for 48 hours. I am grateful to have my house cleaned and learn about this process, but it is also very frightening to know how much misinformation has been circulating about proper mold remediation. Because of this, many people are living in their houses with dangerous mold and are affected by numerous respiratory and skin illnesses.
Thank you to This Old House and Dr Eric Griggs for helping me to have a safe air quality environment in my home with mold remediation and helping to spread the word to educate us here in New Orleans and beyond about proper procedures to ensure that we live environmentally safe in our homes.
(15) CommentsComment on this Blog
I'm glad TOH has come to NOLA. I hope you are able to work in some Greenness into the rebuild.
Recycle as much as you can, visit salvage yards and be as energy efficient as possible. Perhaps a Geo-thermal unit. It does no good to rebuild if you can't afford to heat and cool the house.
Also LA now has a 50% tax credit on Solar Systems. Something to look into.
Remember Say No to Cypress Mulch, the industry is destroying our the natural hurricane barriers.
All the best to you!
Glad to see TOH doing a project that benefits the Hurricane victims, remeber the lasttime TOH was in NO and they did a SHOTGUN that was converted from a two family, will Rich Thewthewey be visitng the drinking water and pump stations again this time to see how they fared after Katrina?
I am glad that you are getting your house done. Sorry that they found more mold but you are lucky they did now and not after your house was done. It is also bad that people are going around giveing wrong information about mold removal.
I will be anxious to see the soda blasting technique, but more importantly, how affordable is it and is it something that volunteer workers would have access to and can do? On all the homes we have helped with, the homeowners had no resources other than volunteers like us so the powerwash bleaching is all we could do and hope it was effective.
You are so right about the mold remediaion. We had water intrusion to our home from hurricane Jeane, we live in Florida. We had sucha hard time with the insurance Company. We had a mold remediation company do the work on our house and even did the rehab on 1/2 of or house when my husband started getting sick. For 3 weeks we went to Dr's until he was finally admitted to the hospital. He very nearly died because of his exposure to Black Mold. Please tell everyone you know that Black Mold is deadly. We had to tear down our house, that we still had a mortgage on, get a larger mortgage and build a new house. We were homeless for a while but hve spent 3 night in our new house. Almost no furniture but at least we are alive and together.
With the scary fact that an individual can get lung disease from mold; I would think, just to be safe and not sorry everyone should have a mold remediation expert come into their home and check it for black mold.
why can't bleach be used to get rid of mold. I used it and it got rid of it. But then I was told not to use it.
Water seepage is the main problem...so it is imperative to work on the leaks and the seeps are mended.
This is a very interesting article on your experience with mold. Indeed it is very difficult for us to know even if we have molds at our home.
Water seapage is a very common problem and should be taken care of as soon as it is found.
I do agree that molds are the most horrible problem that one can have at home. The most important step to avoid this is stopping any water seepage.
I hope you home is built now and everything looks great. Can you post some updated photos?
We have just purchased a little English cottage and recently found out there is some black mold in the wall in an addition. We are planning to have that room extended and drywall on this wall taken out. Will that be suffieient to get rid of the black mold?
I really need that kind of article which gives me the information about the mold and I get it from your site. It is so much interesting and so much informative also. I really like it.