We were recently called to a home in Lafayette to investigate what turned out to be a mold problem. The house had been a rental property for some time and once the tenants left the owner decided to occupy it themselves. As soon as the moved in they began to experience ailments including headache and respiratory problems.
Unoccupied homes should always be thoroughly checked out before you move in! Make sure you hire a qualified home inspector before you buy and even before you sign a lease. Especially if the home has been vacant for a while an inspection can save a lot of trouble and headache. A-Pro Home Inspection of Boulder and Axium Home Inspections are a couple of our favorites. A thorough inspection can identify problems that may be easily fixed before you occupy the place.
It turns out that while the house was vacant a pipe had burst under the house. The leak wasn’t obvious; there was no visual evidence of water problems in the interior of the home but the health effects were undeniable. Visual inspections identified the water leak under the house in a space to small to be considered a crawl space, no way could any human crawl under there and expect to get back out alive.
This small space housed some of the water supply lines. This space was about 6 inch deep and ran most of the length of the home, to accommodate the pipes. When the one pipe burst the area filled with water. With virtually no air-flow to encourage evaporation the water sat stagnant for an unknown amount of time. The stagnant water provided a good environment for growth of all kinds of nasty pathogens including mold that was contributing to the owner’s health problems.
We had worked with this client in the past on multiple other jobs and they were confident that PuroClean Disaster Response could handle the cleanup. They called us in to investigate for mold. A visual inspection identified the problem under the house and an air sample test done by Advanced Environmental Consulting confirmed the existence of excessive spore counts for multiple different strains of mold.
We needed to get the space dried out otherwise the mold problem would just reoccur. Mold needs moisture, oxygen, food source and stagnant air to thrive. The air provides oxygen, the soil and structural elements provide food source and the confined space provided stagnant air so our option was to eliminate the moisture.
There is not a lot of room to work when you are looking at 6 inches of space. It is barely enough room to get your arm into the space, never mind inserting equipment and people to clean and vacuum the whole area. We had employ some alternate approaches.
We needed to get air circulating through that small air space and keep it circulating. To enable this air movement we opened up an access vent thru the floor, pulled wet air out through that vent and exhausted it outside through a window. To replace the air we removed we used a large dehumidifier to push hot dry air into the crawl space.This cycle of hot dry air in and moist wet air out running continuously for days made fairly short work of drying the space.
Once the space was dry we could focus our attention on the removal of mold spores. With the moisture gone the living mold would die but any remaining spores would lie dormant and be available to create future problems so we have to get the spores out. We modified the same high volume air moving arrangement but replaced the dehumidifier with a HEPA class air scrubber, this ensured the air supply would be free of any mold spores so clean filtered air was going in and contaminated air was coming out.
Once we were done with our work the owners were able to move in and live comfortably in their home once again.