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Old 08-09-2011, 02:56 AM
 
Location: Durm
7,104 posts, read 10,982,770 times
Reputation: 8046

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I can't sleep, ugh!

I posted in another thread that I thought I have a mold problem in my rental house. I bought the home test kits and they showed that I do have black mold in my AC ducts as well as mold in the air in my living room (maybe other rooms but I had the kit in my living room).

So, it's not that they're being nonresponsive completely. The landlords are an elderly couple and their son, a contractor, is very responsive about wanting to fix the problem. But, he insists on doing it himself though I've asked to get a mold specialist in here to fix it. I not only live here, I work from home, so this is also my workplace.

Now he wants to bring in a UV system, which he said will work and is not harmful. I got on the web and found 1) the UV system IS harmful if you look right at it and 2) it doesn't work, according to some sources

We've been going back and forth on this and I have HAD it. Whenever I'm in this house my ears start ringing, I get headaches, I've been having other symptoms that aren't present in the house. I also can't tell my dog not to look at the UV light. I'm worried I might have to replace my sofa when this is all over.

Can I break my lease and move if they are being responsive but refuse to hire a mold specialist? I sent the test kits to the lab this morning to see what kind of mold that is. Am I being unreasonable? This is not something just anyone can do, as far as I can gather. Thanks...
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:26 AM
 
Location: Maine
2,272 posts, read 6,422,658 times
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If you just sent the test kits in to the lab, how do you know it's black mold? I am not familiar with how those work.

If you are really experiencing the issues you state, I'd leave. Anyone can break a lease for any reason -- just be prepared to continue paying rent until the owners find another tenant, or to fight it in court.
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Old 08-09-2011, 06:09 AM
 
Location: Durm
7,104 posts, read 10,982,770 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawmom View Post
If you just sent the test kits in to the lab, how do you know it's black mold? I am not familiar with how those work.

If you are really experiencing the issues you state, I'd leave. Anyone can break a lease for any reason -- just be prepared to continue paying rent until the owners find another tenant, or to fight it in court.
It's a petri dish - you swab what you think is mold and then let it incubate for a couple of days. When I did it I wasn't sure if it was dirt or mold that I was swabbing and it was definitely mold (looked to be two different kinds of black mold in fact). I don't know what type of mold it was so I sent it off (it was black mold but was it toxic black mold? I don't know).

The air sample in my living room is from letting the dish sit there for an hour, then letting whatever fell in the dish grow. That mold was whitish brown.

I refuse to keep paying their rent until they find another tenant if I'm leaving because the house is making me sick - I just think the landlord's son is not up to the job.

Last edited by NM posts; 08-09-2011 at 06:14 AM.. Reason: clarifying
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:02 AM
 
Location: A little suburb of Houston
3,702 posts, read 17,627,310 times
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You have a very weak case. Every house will have mold in the air. It is a matter of degree. If it isn't growing up the walls, lining the air ducts (do you have photos), the house has a history of water problems indicating unseen mold in the walls, or you have a professional service examine the problem, you will have problems using this as an excuse to get out. Having said that, you can break your lease any time you want if your willing to pay the price.
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:02 AM
 
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,078 posts, read 4,217,045 times
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If you are asking whether you have a legal right to insist that a "mold specialist" handle the remediation I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Unlike lead paint abatement or essential maintenance practices, which are regulated nationwide and require specific methods, training, and certification, mold remediation is currently only regulated in a similar manner in a few states to my knowledge. As a result, anyone in other states can hang out a shingle calling themselves a "mold specialist." Heck for $369 you can take an online course (30 hrs) and get "certified" to do the job yourself. Not so licensed contractors, who are regulated in-state.

If the landlord's son is a contractor there is no reason he can't handle it. I'm sure the mold "specialists" put on a good show of wearing hazmat suits, charging an arm and a leg, and giving you color brochures. I would think since he is their son and would want to protect their investment he would be more thorough in fixing the problem. Other contractors (and unregulated "mold specialists" with pieces of paper issued by commercial online training sites) on the other hand often have no qualms about doing shoddy work and sending a nice big fat bill.

There are some Guidelines (not Regulations) for remediation put out by the NYC Dept of Health which can be referred to. They specifically discuss remediation methods for contaminated HVAC systems (starts on p. 10) and there isn't anything in there that a licensed contractor can't handle.
http://www.lchd.org/environhealth/aq...Guidelines.pdf
If it were me I'd print it out and hand it to him with the HVAC section highlighted. I'd also ask for a dehumidifer.

Testing for old is a waste of money IMO. If you can see it or smell it, it's mold. These testing outfits are a racket IMO. I'm dealing with a mold problem myself right now from a botched tiling / plumbing job in a bathroom (and have the sore throat and sinus congestion typical for mold) and it is a no brainer. Everything down to the studs is going to be ripped out, put into contractor bags and then into the dumpster. You shouldn't put your health at risk and I hope you get it sorted out.

Take a look at these links perhaps they will help.
Landlord Liability for Tenant Exposure to Mold - legal help, Rights & Disputes, rental laws, landlord liability, mold, health issues with mold, exposure to mold
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Durm
7,104 posts, read 10,982,770 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poltracker View Post
You have a very weak case. Every house will have mold in the air. It is a matter of degree. If it isn't growing up the walls, lining the air ducts (do you have photos), the house has a history of water problems indicating unseen mold in the walls, or you have a professional service examine the problem, you will have problems using this as an excuse to get out. Having said that, you can break your lease any time you want if your willing to pay the price.
I do have photos, both of the ducts and the mold growing in the petri dish test kit. It's not harmless mold I'm worried about. In a week I'll have the results of the test. It's not an "excuse" to get out, moving is the last thing I want to do. However, seeing as this is both my home and workplace, and for the last month I've been having symptoms typical of toxic mold, I have to take this seriously. A lease isn't worth my health!

Quote:
If the landlord's son is a contractor there is no reason he can't handle it. I'm sure the mold "specialists" put on a good show of wearing hazmat suits, charging an arm and a leg, and giving you color brochures. I would think since he is their son and would want to protect their investment he would be more thorough in fixing the problem. Other contractors (and unregulated "mold specialists" with pieces of paper issued by commercial online training sites) on the other hand often have no qualms about doing shoddy work and sending a nice big fat bill.
Yeah I don't want a scammer and if the guy is qualified, fine. I bought into that until he asked me to wipe the duct out myself. He just texted me to say that he worked for a mold specialist for a few years. Perhaps this could have a good outcome. My fear is that while I wait for him to figure this out, the mold is giving me serious problems. It would be nice to be able to be in my house without my ears ringing. Lots of info out there, some seems insane, some seems credible, regarding dangers of mold. I did buy a dehumidifier (small, doesn't do entire house)

Now he told me if I'm worried about my health, to open the window and let the air circulate. Really dude? This is coastal North carolina where it's in the upper 90s by day and humid to no end. See - this is why I don't even want him to bother. The air won't even circulate in this weather. I wish I could open the window - open windows are probably why I didn't realize this was a problem until July.

Last edited by NM posts; 08-09-2011 at 07:21 AM.. Reason: more clarification
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:52 AM
 
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,078 posts, read 4,217,045 times
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I'm just reading your other thread about mold.

Rain and humidity is one thing - you don't get sick from humidity, at least not normally. Unless something is wrong with the building itself the moisture should not be getting into the walls. Did anyone live there before you?

You mentioned the smell in the laundry room in the other thread - was this added on? Who did the plumbing and when? If there is a leak the mold could be behind the drywall. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. I just pulled down a lot of ceramic tiles that had some black discoloration on the grout- they practically fell off the wall as soon as I started chipping the grout and there was the mold on the wood slats in all its glory. And whatever is going on in your old cottage may not be confined to the HVAC system; that could be a symptom and not the cause. If the son is a contractor then he understands that water is the enemy. Water leads to rot and mold and eventually will destroy a home.
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:00 AM
 
Location: southwest TN
8,569 posts, read 17,313,294 times
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My husband is certified to work in federal buildings on black mold. He's not here for me to ask him questions about your situation, but I will tell you that, in federal buildings, suspicion of black mold gets the room cordoned off and shut. He then has to don protective suits and BREATHING masks to protect him from the effects of black mold. If you were asked to swipe the mold, that indicates this guy doesn't understand how serious the situation can be if it is black mold.

So far, in each of the suspected cases my husband was called in to check out, none of them turned out to be black mold, just ordinary mold. Mind you that ordinary mold can make you just as sick. If you're in NYC, I'd check with the building inspector's office to see what regulations there are, if any.
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Durm
7,104 posts, read 10,982,770 times
Reputation: 8046
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrugalYankee View Post
I'm just reading your other thread about mold.

Rain and humidity is one thing - you don't get sick from humidity, at least not normally. Unless something is wrong with the building itself the moisture should not be getting into the walls. Did anyone live there before you?

You mentioned the smell in the laundry room in the other thread - was this added on? Who did the plumbing and when? .
The previous tenant was here for four years and she seems to have added to the problem in that she didn't report a clog and there turned out to be two leaks under the house (landlord's son was not happy that she never reported this). Those are now fixed, but maybe source of the mold...who knows how long that was going on.

The laundry room was original but I know they did a big remodel in the late 90s (this is a 1940s house) - I don't know if it was always a laundry room. I have the dehumidifier running in there; it is off the living room so that helps in the living room. I can smell mold right when I come in the front door and right outside the front door...there's some rotten wood...I bet it is in the wall there.

I'm not sure who did the plumbing. A lot of the remodel was done by someone other than the landlord's son. That's another story. I believe he was in jail at the time.
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Durm
7,104 posts, read 10,982,770 times
Reputation: 8046
Quote:
Originally Posted by NY Annie View Post
My husband is certified to work in federal buildings on black mold. He's not here for me to ask him questions about your situation, but I will tell you that, in federal buildings, suspicion of black mold gets the room cordoned off and shut. He then has to don protective suits and BREATHING masks to protect him from the effects of black mold. If you were asked to swipe the mold, that indicates this guy doesn't understand how serious the situation can be if it is black mold.

So far, in each of the suspected cases my husband was called in to check out, none of them turned out to be black mold, just ordinary mold. Mind you that ordinary mold can make you just as sick. If you're in NYC, I'd check with the building inspector's office to see what regulations there are, if any.
See? That's what I'm thinking. I'm not in NYC unfortunately.
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