Episode 092: Why We Had to Move Out for Months - Part 1

Episode Transcription

This episode hits a little close to home. Earlier this year, our family came face-to-face with a hidden enemy – mold. 

Let me tell you, discovering mold in your home is a total shock. It's like this silent threat, potentially harming your family's health and messing with your peace of mind. 

That's exactly what happened to us. We had to leave our house and crash with my in-laws – not exactly ideal!

In this episode you'll hear about everything - how to detect mold, the health risks, all those myths floating around.

We’ll also discuss:

  • The health risks posed by mold exposure, especially for vulnerable family members.
  • Legal and health considerations surrounding mold presence in your home.
  • Lessons learned from a family's battle with mold - invaluable insights for listeners facing similar situations.
  • Steps to ensure the health and safety of loved ones after mold remediation.

What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 

Find Diana Rene on social media:
Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom
Facebook: @the.decluttered.com
Pinterest: @DianaRene

Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training video “Kiss Clutter Goodbye” to learn how it’s possible! And find all of my resources here.

This transcription was automatically generated. Please excuse grammar errors. 

Diana Rene: 0:06

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom podcast, a podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Rene, and in 2017, I had my second daughter and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home okay, not literally, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next 10 months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show.

Diana Rene: 0:49

Welcome to this episode of The Decluttered Mom podcast. I have a two-part episode for you because it got kind of long as I was talking through everything and I know that we love to keep our episodes short and to the point. So it's just going to be two episodes approximately 20 minutes long, and basically I'm going into the whole journey of finding and getting rid of mold in our home over the last few months. So this is kind of like a vulnerable and emotional topic for me, because it's just been very, very overwhelming and all-consuming. I feel like I've had two extra full-time jobs on top of my normal full-time job and parenting, and all of that all while not living in our home, and so it's been really intense. But I know that if you follow me on Instagram, you have had lots of questions about what's going on and how do we find it and how do we take care of it, and all of that, which is totally understandable. I would be super curious also, and so I really wanted to just go through the full story and have it here so that I could guide people to this episode or these two episodes, and it explains everything in and out in detail, so let's just jump into it.

Diana Rene: 2:19

Welcome to this episode of The Decluttered Mom Podcast. Today, I'm going to talk about what in the world has been going on in our home over the past few months. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that we had to move out in very early February. It is now the end of April and we are hoping to move in this weekend, but we have been staying at my in-laws, and that's because we had discovered mold in our house, which is so fun, right? That's exactly the type of surprise you're always hoping to find in your house, and so we had to move out while they did remediation and then they had to rebuild because they had to take out large chunks of our home to get to the mold and to make sure that the mold was really truly gone, and so I just want to tell the story of kind of how we found it, the types of DMs I'm getting. I finally I put up a question box last week because I just have been getting so many DMs about all various things about the mold and I want to make sure I can answer all of your questions, and so I have the whole list of questions here in front of me.

Diana Rene: 3:36

I'm going to do my best to keep this concise but also just explain, like, what happened, because I think a lot of people get worried and they're like, well, what if I have mold? And I don't know, I don't know if you do, and I don't think every house does Like there's a lot of stuff out there that says like every single house has mold. I don't know that that's true, and I think there's a lot of myths around mold and I'm still learning. I know way more than I ever wanted to know about mold and like types of mold and how it grows and what it can do to your health and all sorts of things. So I know way more than I wish I knew, to be honest, because I've really had to research it. But at the same time, I know that I don't even know, like I just only know the tip of the iceberg, right, and so I'm going to answer the best I can with the knowledge that I have, but mostly just share with you our story and, if you have any type of suspicion, I encourage you to seek out a testing company, someone that you can trust that can help you navigate, if you do have it. But again, there's in no way I am suggesting that anybody else has this problem in their home and that you need to look into it.

Diana Rene: 4:55

So let's start at the beginning, when we bought the house. So we looked at this house back in 2022 over the summer. It was an off-market deal. Basically, our realtor knew the person that was selling the house and we went and looked at it. It had been sitting vacant for about a year because, well, I don't need to go into all the details of the prior homeowners, but it had been a rental for a long time and basically nobody lived there for about a year when we bought it.

Diana Rene: 5:35

So when we bought it. We had a full home inspection and everything. We didn't cut any corners with that. We even had the testing or not the testing company, the home inspection company do a mold test, because there were a couple of areas in the home that you could tell there had been prior water damage. One of those areas was in the kitchen, so underneath the kitchen sink the wood cabinet like the bottom part of the wood cabinet was pretty warped and like it was just very obvious that there had been water damage at some point. The home inspector said, though, that it was completely dry, there was no signs of mold. He suspected it was a long time ago and it just wasn't taken care of right away, and so it damaged the wood. So we trusted that advice.

Diana Rene: 6:31

There was another area in our primary bathroom shower that we suspected water damage, but we didn't have any way of fully knowing. So the reason I say that is the shower. It was a walk-in shower with a glass door and there was a bench in the shower and that bench was tiled, but there were a couple of areas on the bench that the caulking had like 100% worn away. So like you could like see into the bench, like it wasn't like a wide gaping hole, but like it was definitely like cracks that you could see into the bench where caulking over time had worn out and nobody replaced. So we were like I don't know if like this is newer, I don't know if this has been here for five years and people have showered over and over daily in this shower with water going into that bench.

Diana Rene: 7:35

We really had no way of knowing, and so the home inspector advised us to just re-caulk it, have someone come in and just do a really good job of re-caulking and re-waterproofing the whole shower, and that we should be good. And so, again, we went with that advice. They did do mold testing, but we now know that because the house had been vacant for so long, it may not have been able to detect these spores, and we also are not 100% sure that they did the testing accurately, because the testing was really quick it was like 20 minutes and when we had the house tested this time around, the guy was there for like seven hours, and so we just we don't really know. We don't really know if it was done correctly or if the reporting was done incorrectly or who knows, but either way it didn't show anything and we were good to go, or so we thought. So we moved in and if you follow me on Instagram, you may remember that about three weeks after moving in, I developed like full body hives, like my entire body was just covered in really itchy, really itchy, angry hives that like even on parts of my body like hurt, and my like my left foot kept swelling up really big and I was having some like joint inflammation and weird like almost.

Diana Rene: 9:16

It almost looked like bruising sometimes on like my hands and my arms, like it was different than the hives, so just lots of weird stuff, right. And I went to the doctor and I went to the allergist and I went to all of these people and none of them could figure out what was going on and they said you probably are just, you probably developed an allergy to something, and we don't know what that is. The frustrating part about hives is there are about bajillion things that can cause them and so it's really hard to navigate and figure out what's going on. So they did all of the allergy testing and they were just normal environmental allergens that I've been allergic to since I was a kid, so there was really nothing new. It did say I was allergic to a couple specific molds, which we now know is probably what caused it, but again, it's just really hard to know with hives.

Diana Rene: 10:20

So I went on high dose antibiotics in the morning and in the evening and that was the only thing that kind of kept things at least a little bit under wrap. But if I forgot like one dose, it was not fun for several days. Just a lot of inflammation in my body, like I couldn't wear contacts anymore because my eyes were so irritated, like there were just so many weird things. That was frustrating to try and figure out. My daughter also her asthma was getting a lot worse than it ever had been and again, we just didn't know if that was related to anything. At the house we didn't really have that suspicion, to be honest, because we had had that testing. We felt like we did our due diligence, we felt like we had moved into a home that was totally fine and safe and good to go, and so that didn't really cross our mind again, to be totally honest, which maybe it should have, but it didn't.

Diana Rene: 11:24

So then fast forward to gosh, I don't even know when, like December, I think, maybe the very the end of 2023,. I have to think for a minute what year it is, so the end of 2023, my youngest was playing in the basement. The basement is basically the playroom. It's a finished basement and we don't really have anything down there except for kids' toys, and so they play down there a lot. And there is this closet in the corner of the back of our basement that is not used for anything, except they sometimes use it as like a room in their play game that they're playing, you know, but there was like it's like a storage closet, but there was nothing in.

Diana Rene: 12:14

There is what I'm trying to say. It's carpeted and there's a window right, and we had a ton, a ton, ton, ton of rain in the fall and we did not realize that water was coming through that basement window because the gosh I'm going to botch the actual name of it but the window well, like the metal well thing that goes around a basement window had like broken away from the house just due to like settling over the years. So it was like a three inch gap between that and the house and basically it created like the perfect environment for water when there's a ton of rain, to just like pour in because there's like a gutter right above it that wasn't draining correctly. So basically, it was like the perfect storm, the perfect conditions for all too much water going into that window. Well, that window well filled up and it had nowhere to go, and so it was like seeping in through the window, into that drywall, down into that closet. So the only reason we knew because, like I said, we don't store anything down there I like have maybe been in that closet once in the entire time we've lived in that house and we ended up moving in and it was October 2022.

Diana Rene: 13:41

So we, I just was never in there and my daughter came upstairs and she's like why is the carpet squishy in the basement? And I was like, well, that's something a homeowner never wants to hear, right? And I was like what do you mean? And she's like the carpet in the closet is squishy in the basement. So I go down there and, sure enough, it's like like you can step on it and you can like feel water and I'm like great, how long has this been here? How long has this been going on? And now we know what was going on for probably months. There was like one spot on the bottom of the wall, like on the trim, that looked like greenish and I was like that's weird. What if it's mold? I don't want to touch it, or try and like I don't want to touch it or try and like I don't want to do this myself. I'm going to figure out, like, who to call.

Diana Rene: 14:28

So I called like a, I just Googled like mold testing companies, and I found a bunch of them and I had a couple of them come out just to give me a quote on, like what it would cost to test that area, and and I found the company that I wanted to use. They came out and they were going to only test the basement, but then they said, is there any other areas of the home that have had water damage? And I said, well, just from previous homeowners. But like the inspector said those were fine and he was like you know, we can test those too. So I was like, okay, let's just do that. Because he was explaining like the whole testing process and I kind of realized then that the prior testing we had probably wasn't great. And he was like I can just do the whole. Let me just do the whole house, cause it's going to cost you like $200 extra instead. I think I don't remember what it was, but basically the testing costs a lot and it was only going to cost 200 more to just like check the entire house. And so I was like let's just do that so we have like peace of mind. So he has all these tools and equipment that he can like check behind walls.

Diana Rene: 15:39

He was there for, like I said before, like about seven hours, and he found mold in that basement area, which we expected, especially seeing the little strip of green in there and just how damp it was in there. So he found mold in there. He found mold under the kitchen sink where we knew there was a lot of water damage prior. He found it in the shower and then he also found it in our attic. I was like what? Because he was looking around, he's like I don't really see anywhere that like did you have to replace the roof? And I was like, well, we haven't. I think the roof is original and like we had a roofing company come out too that we really trust, that we've used before to inspect the house, and they said it was in really good shape too and that there hadn't been any indication that there had been any roof leaks.

Diana Rene: 16:35

And where the mold was on the attic Joyce, I think, is what they were called. He actually said this is kind of common in newer builds, like after 2000,. Our house was built in like 2004 or something like that. He said that builders will leave or they'll use lumber. That's been just like sitting in lumber yards in the pouring rain for weeks or months and then they put it into your house and it still grows mold because it was exposed to moisture for that long. And so he said that's not uncommon.

Diana Rene: 17:08

But the frustrating part with the attic is that they have to take out the insulation. So that was fun, but it wasn't just as simple. At first I was like, oh, the attic is like fine, because they can just treat it and it's not like we don't have to like take out cabinets. You know to do it, but they're like well, but you also have to take out the insulation, reinstall insulation, so that's not fun. So I will say here that something I have learned is it's important to find a testing company that does not also offer remediation, because there's a conflict of interest there. If they also can profit off of remediating mold, then they might find mold more often.

Diana Rene: 17:56

So we went with a testing company that does not offer remediation and that gave us a little bit more peace of mind just to make sure. So they also tested, like I said, they looked for it in our entire home. They tested a couple areas that were maybe a little suspicious. Like I said, they looked for it in our entire home. They tested a couple areas that were maybe a little suspicious, like there had been water damage at some point, like smaller amounts of water damage, and those came back negative and we actually ended up having our remediation company double check those areas. Like they took off the toe, kick part of the cabinets in all of our bathrooms just to check underneath, just to give us peace of mind and make sure that there's nothing there. But there wasn't. So the testing was very accurate.

Diana Rene: 18:43

Then we had to research the remediation companies, which there are a lot of them, and the quotes we got were all over the place, like anywhere from like 4,000 to 44,000. So it was like crazy how different the various quotes were and all of that. And basically we ended up going with a company that had like hundreds of five-star reviews and they agreed to follow our testing company's protocol, which was important to us because basically the testing company gave us this like 35-page report of everything that needed to be done and how it needed to be done, and a lot of the companies that we got quotes from and interviewed were like oh, that's like overkill, you don't need to do all of that, and it was just. It's important to us to make sure it's done right, for several reasons. Number one my daughter has asthma, she has celiac, which is an autoimmune disorder, and I obviously had had some health things going on that we still aren't 100% sure were from mold, but likely. So we wanted to number one, make sure that it was completely out of the house, that we did not have anything left over and that we didn't have to worry about it at all anymore, for our own health and peace of mind. Number two we want to make sure that in the future, whenever we do sell the home in the future which we're really hoping this is our forever home, so hopefully not for decades that we can do that knowing that we went above and beyond to make sure with 100% certainty that everything was gone.

Diana Rene: 20:33

And so we went above and beyond in several different areas we had, for example, there are certain things that like legally by I don't know if it's like the state of Colorado or some health agency or whatever. There are certain things that have to be done to take the mold out. Like any material in your home that had the mold on it had to be removed. So, for example, under the kitchen sink, the bottom cabinet, the wood part had mold on it, so it had to be removed. If drywall has mold on it, it has to be removed. If drywall has mold on it, it has to be removed, and it only. I believe you only have to go one foot beyond where the water damage or the mold is for that building material. So like if it's in the wall, for example, and you have to take out all of the dry wall that it's in and then go one foot beyond it. Well, we went several feet beyond it everywhere, just to like a hundred percent make sure.

Diana Rene: 21:35

And then we also got rid of, most honestly at this point, most of our belongings, and originally we were going to just get rid of like porous furniture, so like our couch and a recliner, and like upholstered chairs and stuff like that, um, because, like we didn't want to keep anything in the house that could potentially still have those mold spores in. But we we ended up just getting rid of most almost not everything, but honestly, pretty close to it. If it's something that can be wiped down, like. So, like our dining table, we kept because that can be very easily cleaned and wiped down, um, and you can know that everything is good to go. The carpet we did that was a common question I was getting is like why did you keep your carpet? We got the carpet professionally cleaned, so we weren't worried about the carpet. We talked to the testing company about that also and they said that is fine as well, since it was not in any of the rooms that had the mold and we can get it professionally cleaned. So could we have technically gotten the couch professionally cleaned? Yes, but it was a very old couch that the cleaning probably cost more than the couch itself. So we had to just kind of do like an analysis for each item, each large item that we got rid of like that, and make the decision for each of them. And for us it just made sense to just get rid of all of that and kind of start fresh and start clean.

Diana Rene: 23:05

The other thing is that when the mold remediation was being done, there were containments that were I'm going to forget the term, but basically like there was like negative air. So, like you know, like at the hospital, like during COVID, they had like the rooms that were like negative air, something there's. I don't think that was the technical term, but basically the way it's these containments were built where that, like all of the air stayed in that containment. So it was like they created their own mini rooms around where the mold was that they were removing and so that way, all of that air stayed in there and then, before they were done, they had to do air scrubbers, they had to use a HEPA vacuum and so, like all of this stuff to make sure that the mold was gone. Before they took the containment down.

Diana Rene: 24:01

We went an additional step and we had testing done again in all of those areas before they took the containment down, to again go above and beyond and make sure with 100% certainty that there is no mold left over, there is no trace of it left behind. And we paid for that testing out of our own pockets to make sure that that was done and it was done correctly and everything came back perfect. So we knew with like complete confidence that the mold was completely gone. We didn't have to worry about it. It's it's forever gone and good to go. Thanks for hanging out and listening to The Decluttered Mom podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories. And if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me at the.decluttered.mom and send me a DM to say hi. I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.