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Unread 08-08-2011, 04:51 PM
 
5,035 posts, read 1,757,919 times
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Default DIY Mold Test Positive, No Visible Signs of Mold....now what?

My house was built in the 1950's. Ive lived here for just over a year. Ever since moving in last summer, I realized the house does have a humidity problem during the summer months.

Granted, here in Connecticut, it gets very humid through out the summer. I have to run my A/C just to get the humidity level down to 50%. Half the time I run my A/C now is to just get the humidity level down, even though the temperature is comfortable.

Like last summer, there are nights where my nose and eyes get irritated. So I thought I should get my air tested. First though, I thought id try just a DIY mold test you can buy at Home Depot.

I left the sample dish sit for a few days and of course, green and white mold grew in the dish. However, I dont see signs of visible mold in the house.
Im guessing it has to do with the humidity level but I cant think of anything I can do to remedy that. Sure I could get a dehumidifier but itd be nice if I could just do something to help keep the humidity out of the house in the first place. I have a big dehumidifier for the basement and Id rather not have to get another one for the main living area.


What do I do now? Is there an inspection I can do myself to find the source of this if its just more than the humidity coming in? Or should I save up and spend a few hundred bux and let a Pro do it?
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Unread 08-08-2011, 05:25 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...
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Do you have moisture on your walls, any black soot like conditions, if not I wouldn't worry about it.
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Unread 08-08-2011, 05:47 PM
 
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No I don't. But the positive test troubles me. And I've always heard humidity over 50 percent inside will lead to mold. I'm also not sure if mold or something else is causing my nose irritations a few nights a week
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Unread 08-08-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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Perhaps the source of the humidity -- if outside air is getting inside -- is also the source of your nasal irritations. Have you checked for air leaks around your windows/doors and attic entryway?
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Unread 08-08-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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Yeah. I had some mild air leaks underneath the windows but took care of that. The fireplace is another huge air leak but there not much I can do about it. The damper doesnt seal air tight. Fireplace access is completely covered with insulation.

Im not sure where else I could have air leaks. I guess when winter comes around, Ill be able to do a more thorough check for air leaks.
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Unread 08-08-2011, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Elsewhere
22,870 posts, read 26,357,858 times
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Wait until September; the humidity will decrease. And then next summer, it will increase again.

In other words, this is a natural occurrence. Either you keep the windows shut in the summer and run the AC to keep the humidity out, or you just deal with it. The dehumidifier in the basement is a good start; it is powerful enough?

Furthermore, there's mold in every house. It's just the way it is.
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Unread 08-08-2011, 08:30 PM
 
Location: Seaford, Delaware
3,320 posts, read 8,893,641 times
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The do it yourself test could give a false positive. also, as said, there is mold in every house to some extent. The amount of mold is the problem. If it is growing on walls or floors, it means a water leak, seepage or drainage problem. You don't mention that. The test only confirms there is mold in the air. it's OK to be in the air, just not on the walls or floors.
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Unread 08-09-2011, 08:40 AM
 
Location: CT - USA
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Hi Bucs,

Since you have a good dehumidifier in the basement, my guess would be that you are having an air leakage problem. And by plugging the leakage only around your windows, you might have made things even worse.

It is all about the "stack effect", which refers to the way the air moves inside the house. The heated air rises, escapes through the upper levels, attic and roof, that creates a negative pressure on the lower levels of the structure and new humid outside air is sucked in.

When you plug holes in the living area (windows and doors) but do not air seal the attic or the basement, you are actually contributing to increase the negative pressure in the lower parts of the building, so more humid air is coming in. You are actually accelerating the stack effect.

And to make matters worse you have a fireplace, which is a huge air leak source.

I believe your best bet would be to call in a specialist to perform a home energy audit , with a blower door and thermal imaging tests to detect every possible source of air leakage and insulation gaps. Then have them air seal and properly insulate the whole house, beginning with the attic if you can't afford the whole house job. This will slow down the stack effect which might keep some of the humid air from getting in.

Also consider installing a chimney plug. (They have devices that can seal the chimney when the fireplace is not in use)
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Unread 08-09-2011, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
1,123 posts, read 3,339,737 times
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I've heard that DIY mold tests are prone to false positives. If it were me, I would hire a mold inspection company that utilizes air sampling and thermal imaging techniques to come and check out your house. The thermal imaging will catch any areas of water intrusion and the air sampling is more professional and will compare indoor spore levels against outside levels. At least this way you can ID if there is truly a problem, and if so where.
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