Locating mold, old apt

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Folsom

Locating mold, old apt
« on: 4 Dec 2014, 12:54 am »
I'm hoping someone here has some advice. It's clear there's something in my apt. My nose gets plugged in one nostril as soon as I'm in it. If I stay away for awhile, all day or overnight, my sinuses seem to clear. Only then can I smell the faint ting of a mold/must when I return. It's not a real typical smell.

It's hard to locate, there's no water below any sinks, cooking area, or fridge. I don't see any visible moisture that's not in a sink drain (normal of all houses at the elbow. It's been suggested to me to feel around walls for a difference in temperature. It would indicate water in the wall.

I'm going to check around the old windows, but it seems unlikely as far as I can foresee. The building is old, 1912 or something.

I'm hoping someone has some experience, because the net is pretty useless. All of the "hidden" places it mentions are obvious.

thunderbrick

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #1 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:01 am »
The idea that the wall temps indicates water is ludicrous IMO.  Insulation, if there at all, can settle and cause cold spots.

Tell us more about the house.  Basement?  Crawl space? Window types?  HVAC type?   Attic?  Venting?

Nick77

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #2 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:06 am »
Once visible means are exhausted you need to rent a thermal camera or hire someone who will investigate. Its the only way to see behind walls.

Does anyone live above you?

TrungT

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #3 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:15 am »
Some indoor plants, flowers????
Just a thought.   ;)

thunderbrick

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #4 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:18 am »
Might it be a change in humidity from outside to inside?  Why would it clear up once you are inside for awhile?  Any health issues come up?  You can get mold test kits at the hardware store.  The kit is cheap, the tests less so.   

I used one of those kits to prove to the warden that we DIDN'T live in a rotting hell hole of poison emanating from the basement. 

Kenneth Patchen

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #5 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:49 am »
Check the filters for the ac and the furnace. Look for food under the stove and fridge. Check the drip pan under the fridge. Check for mice in forgotten traps. Animals that have been poisoned can die between the walls producing a mold like smell.

And I hesitate to mention this heresy but LPs (vinyl) can off-gas and record sleeves and jackets can be molded and mildewed.  If you’ve bought any old vinyl or used books or furniture recently, you might check there.

Folsom

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #6 on: 4 Dec 2014, 01:55 am »
There's small attic, I'm on the top floor, flat roof, single pane old windows with storm window, no HVAC just radiator heating, there's one thing that might be a vent but it's not clear if it is at all. It had lots of dust so I actually covered it for now.

I have one plant, no sign of any problems with it that I can tell. It's watered once in awhile and doesn't seem to need much.

Humidity could be different. I've got no idea what you mean by something clearing up inside, thunderbrick.

I'll check records but doubt it that. I'll inspect under fridge. No traps for mice anywhere.

GlennDog

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #7 on: 4 Dec 2014, 02:16 am »
A flat roof with an attic space, that's highly unusual in my neck of the woods. Based on what you said, it sounds like a roof leak. Personally, if it's affecting your health and your lease is up soon, I would highly consider relocating. Getting the landlord/super to correctly mitigate the mold is unlikely. It's time to move for your health. The thermal imaging camera can help greatly IF the camera operator is well educated.

water might be traveling from a neighbors faucet or drain but given the age of the property it's probably a roof leak especially if people go up on the roof, high traffic is like the number one enemy of flat roofs

An IR investigation can run 3- 400 bucks depending on where you're located. probably not a cost you want to incur as a renter. Any chance you're in Southeast Michigan?

thunderbrick

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #8 on: 4 Dec 2014, 02:20 am »
Not knowing what the vent is that you covered, I'd clean it, not cover it. 

By clearing up inside, I was referring to your sinuses appearing to do better one you've been indoors for awhile. 

Single pain windows, even with storm windows, should have enough air leakage to keep the place from getting too stuffy.  Any signs of moisture, stains, etc?

Folsom

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #9 on: 4 Dec 2014, 02:34 am »
Moving isn't a good option right now. Perhaps soon, but not right now.

No one walks on the roof except during the summer they resealed it. It had leaks awhile back

I don't see any signs of moisture inside. The windows sometimes get a little frosty.

"By clearing up inside, I was referring to your sinuses appearing to do better one you've been indoors for awhile." - Still got no idea where you came up with this... the only time my sinuses are ok is when I'm somewhere else. For Thanksgiving I spent a night at an old school house converted into a house that a fellow that owns an eccentric downtown hotel turned apartment building owns. My sinuses were perfect, it was dry as the heat was from a wood stove and a space heater in one area. There was a converted closet to mini-bedroom that would plug my sinuses right away and had a mild smell to it of needing aired out, so I slept in another room I found later. There's 6 or more beds in the place (it's pretty neat place, very good, fun).

jtwrace

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #10 on: 4 Dec 2014, 02:37 am »
Once visible means are exhausted you need to rent a thermal camera or hire someone who will investigate. Its the only way to see behind walls.

Does anyone live above you?
I can't recommend this one enough. 

richidoo

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #11 on: 4 Dec 2014, 03:01 am »
If it triggers an allergic reaction then it's probably mold making spores as summer turns to winter and the mold makes spores. If you have forced air HVAC, make sure the intake filters are changed often, with good 3M filtrete. This will stop the dust from getting to the coil, gradually the mold there will starve.

If there's mold in the walls or attic from leaking exterior/roof then there's not much you can do. Cleaning it up is difficult and expensive and even after someone tries to clean an old building it will still be there in lesser concentration so you may still react to it.  Your allergy will grow stronger with continued exposure so you need to look for another place, if possible.

In the meantime try an ozone generator to mitigate the problem. Turn it up to the max when you are not home, so it will kill off the mold and erase any smell instantly. Run a fan to spread it around. It oxidizes all germs everywhere it can reach. In carpets, in furniture, walls, HVAC vents, whatever. You can turn it off or turn it down to where you can barely smell it when you are home. We use it on vacations to fix moldy or stinky hotel rooms quickly. It works very well.

Folsom

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #12 on: 4 Dec 2014, 03:08 am »
There's no HVAC system.



I'll look into the ozone generator.

JerryM

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #13 on: 4 Dec 2014, 03:08 am »
Fire is a known killer of mold. Really hot fire.  :thumb:

thunderbrick

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #14 on: 4 Dec 2014, 03:09 am »
My nose gets plugged in one nostril as soon as I'm in it. If I stay away for awhile, all day or overnight, my sinuses seem to clear.

Sorry, I misread the post.  I took it to be if you stayed IN the situation, not away from it.  My bad.   :oops:

My wife is hypersensitive to smells (real or imagined) and always assumes the worst.  That keeps me on my toes……... :duh:

richidoo

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #15 on: 4 Dec 2014, 04:02 am »
This electrostatic air cleaner works really well too. This helped my wife's mold and dust allergies a lot. You have to clean it often because it sucks everything out of the air. http://www.brookstone.com/pure-ion-pro-air-cleaner

Folsom


Folsom

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #17 on: 4 Dec 2014, 06:35 am »
I found it! While looking for it I must have exposed it enough to change colors! It was on a window sill, but it didn't have a color until this evening, long after moving the object.

I still probably need to make my own ozone generator... You know how these things are.

JLM

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Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #18 on: 4 Dec 2014, 10:44 am »
If the roof leaked, moisture got into the attic.  Filthy attic plus moisture plus stagnant air = mold.  The vent you covered is probably meant to help vent the attic (keep heat/moisture from building up, versus the modern soffit venting seen on pitched roofs, check to see if there are any louvers on exterior walls above your ceiling height that would serve the same function).  Mold (fungus) lives everywhere.  Moving air and a thorough cleaning with bleach are your friends.

Folsom

Re: Locating mold, old apt
« Reply #19 on: 4 Dec 2014, 10:47 am »
I'm going to try cleaning up especially along the walls that are colder during winter now that I located probably the main mold. HOPEFULLY this will allow my sinuses to be normal at some point.