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Robert in Oceanside, CA

In the beginning of July 2011, we had a downstairs toilet flood. It flooded our livivng room, dining area, and kitchen. We live in a 2 story town home and have an apartment below us. When our flood happened in our down stairs bathroom, it was due to a bad valve in the toilet bowl. It ended up flooding our downstairs and went through our  neighbors roof.

He stated that water was coming thru his roof in the kitchen and living room. Well the leasing office did not fix it right away, they started to work on it Sept 12,2011. I was off that day napping on the couch downstiars and I heard them working on the unit below mine.

Later I had a severe headache, fever, shortness of breathe, no appetite, etc. I thought I had just gotten the flu. I went to my doctor and they said I had strep throat and gave me a breathing treatment for the wheezing and meds to take home with me. I didn’t think anything of it, but then I thought since it took them 2 1/2 months to fix water damage down stairs,  that it might have something to due with it since I felt fine before, only after they started removing the down stairs roof did I become ill.

I had a physical for my work the Thursday prior to this event and there were no problems. My wife is sick too. So I bought a Home Depot mold test and although it’s not growing on my walls or floors, that I can see, the mold test came back positive. So it must be all airborne, and causing our illness. I sent the speciem to the lab to see what kind of mold it is, but I am still waiting for results. I’ve talked to the management office and they just say they were trying to take care of it, but with little to no effort, I told them we were sick and they just say sorry. They wont move us out and we still have 5 months on our lease. All they tell me is if it weren’t safe we would not have you in there, but they have done no mold testing of their own. They just had two guys check for moisture. I had to miss a week of work due to illness and still me and my wife are not feeling well.

Questions:

What can I do while I’m waiting for mold results from the lab? Me and my wife have no money to get a hotel to get us out of the environment and we have no family to stay with. We feel trapped and have no clue what our next step should be? Can we contact an office to help us?

Carla in Berkeley, California

After six weeks of flu and sinus congestion symptoms, that two rounds of antibiotics failed to clear, I began looking for other sources of cause. I was describing my physical symptoms as well as mental ones (incredible difficulty focusing, exhaustion and depression) to a friend who is deathly allergic to black mold and they were so similar that I began wondering. Some months ago there was water damage to the ceiling in our rental unit (a downstairs apt). It was never cleaned and the Bay Area has been experiencing a tremendously damp and dank spring and summer. Though there were no outward signs, I couldn’t help but realize that every time I left the house, I felt better and when I returned, I’d be exhausted and coughing within five minutes. Since I couldn’t see anything, I doubted what my own instincts were telling me. Meanwhile, trying to finish my Master’s Thesis, I was really angry with myself because I had so much trouble focusing and attributed it to some sort of writing block. But I’ve been writing for years, and had never experienced anywhere near this level of disorientation, in addition to all the awful physical symptoms.

Finally, I started listening to my instincts. I am lucky enough to have family in the area, and got out of my apartment. It’s amazing how much better I feel after even a short time away. In fact, it’s relatively stunning.

So, I’ve been able to give 30 days notice, as I’m pretty sure my property manangement company will never do the situation justice, even if they make an effort to clean it up. We do have tremendous renters rights in Berkeley, and so I’m sure I can get at least a mold inspection, but in the meantime, I’m too scared to spend any amount of time there, let alone the night. Thanks for listening and please see my questions below.

Questions:

While I realize that I’m going to have to get rid of several pieces of cloth furniture, I’m particularly concerned about my books. A writer and teacher, I have hundreds of books, in addition to papers. Does anyone know of a solution for so many books? I’ve thought about bleach spray for the covers, but the pages? Sunshine? A microwave? Any ideas would help.

Also, is there any way to tell what’s been contaminated? I can feel the difference with my dirty / washed clothing, but with larger items am kind of at a loss.

Thanks for any tips. This is one nasty, nasty, nasty invisible enemy and I really feel for everyone else dealing with this.

Joi in Canyon Country, California

I am in the middle of a Mold case that has been going on for 6 years. I have been very sick and my medical cost are rising as the days go by. I just found out today that my attorney lost his license for 10 years prior to taking my case and never told me about it. I haven’t been able to get him to return a phone call in months. I don’t know what to do. He had me show up to a settlement hearing totally unprepared and I was blind sided by the entire experience.

If any one has any advice to offer, it would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you

Evelyn in San Francisco, California

I moved into this new house for rent and when we cleaned the place there was a little bit of mold but I thought nothing of it. So we have been here for about a year and mind you we are renting from my spouse’s uncle that sold this lady the house. So when the lady came d0wn here from China we told her we threw away 2 pieces of furniture already because I was not going to put my baby (5 months old) clothes in there anymore. The mold grew all the way to the top of the back of the dresser and night stand.

When we told the lady she said you have to keep the windows open all the time. And that there was not mold there from the beginning when she was living in the house. For me that is hard to believe because we didn’t have mold before we moved here on any of our furniture and she is saying we brought the mold here to the house.

Well, I had purchased brand new furniture and now today I’ve notice mold on my new bedroom set dresser this is cherry wood and its very expensive. I dont put anything against the walls from what she told me so I didn’t and mold is still growing on the furniture.

My baby has been sick twice and my spouse always gets bloody noses only in the room but never when we are out somewhere else. I don’t know what to do. I called the uncle to come over but he didn’t show up. My lease is a month to month contract. I need to get this taken care of without any conflict but I will not hesitate to call authorities and take this matter into my hands if she doesn’t act fast.

Questions:

Can the mold specialist find out how long the mold been here and where its coming from? Also the area where I live is very very foggy and if you touch the walls in my bedroom where its the worst at it is like a fridge it is always moist but there is no mold on the walls it just grows on anything it touches. I’ve shown her pictures and still NOTHING.  My brand new $5000 furniture is ruined. I dont know what to do. I want to prove to her that it is the house because I know its not us. HELP PLEASE.

Teri in Mojave, CA

Our nextdoor neighbor in our building had a grease fire last month and the water from the fire sprinklers seeped under our shared kitchen wall and got everything wet. The kitchen floor was so soaked that it had started lifting. A couple of days after this had happened, we noticed a terrible musty smell coming from our kitchen. I called and complained about it and they replaced the floor, but the smell was still there.

The management company sent in a person to come in and pull all of the kick boards up from the front of the cabinets. There was mold covering all of the base wood holding the cabinets in place. They were supposed to have them replaced, but the guy put a new kick board in front of it. How is that taking care of the mold? I think that there is mold inside the wall behind my stove, when I informed the managers about this, they wrote a note regarding this and that is all. Nothing has happened since I complained.

My poor daughter is covered in hives from the light smell of mold in our unit and I don’t know where to start. I called her doctor, but she can’t get in to she her until the end of the month and I see that she has a lot of the symptoms of mold exposure. We all have symptoms and I am so tired of it. I would just like to know what I can do to finally get rid of this once and for all so that I can have my healthy family back.

Garrett in Los Angeles, California

My girlfriend has had MS for over 20 years. She moved into a condo where she currently resides about 7 years ago. We noticed about a week ago after the housekeeper was looking on the floor of her closet, black mold that was about 2 feet from the floor up the wall and covered the carpet about 1-2 feet out and there was mold in various places out about 2-3 feet from the corner of the wall.

We called the landlord and they had 2 different plumbers come out and they both said it was very dangerous toxic black mold and the water was leaking from the adjoining shower where there were loose tiles. The owners of the condo asked their plumber who was one of the two they sent, to fix it and he came over this morning to look at it. They instructed the plumber to tear up the carpet and throw all of it away.

I told them I had called the Health Department, yesterday, Sunday, the day before the 4th of July and left a message on their Hot Line about the problem. The plumber said he had worked for the owner’s Father in Law for almost 30 years and for the owner about 22 years and that the owner was very cheap. The owners and the Father in Law told the plumber to throw away the carpet so there wouldn’t be any evidence before the health department came out to inspect. The Father in law said he had a similar incident happen and it took the Health Department months to come out, so we could wait for them or take out the carpet and start the work right away. I want the Health Department to measure the air and look at the carpet and look behind the wall also.

The plumber also said that the owners lived in this unit and he was called out for the same exact black mold issue 10 years ago, which they never fixed. The plumber said that not only was there black mold in the closet but also in the front of the shower and there is still black mold that he showed us in front of the shower, all along the base of the shower. He said when he came to assess the problems 10 years ago, he noticed the loose tiles and the hall carpet next to the shower had black mold growing all over it. The tiles were loose and allowed the water to leak out and the black mold began to grow. And they didn’t address the black mold issue then in either the closet or on the carpet by the shower or the floor base running along the front of the shower. They simply replaced the carpet and then had a shoddy repair job done on all of the bathroom shower tiles where the leaks was coming from. The owners then moved out, almost immediately and never told the tenants about this problem which according to the plumber, happened about 10 years ago.

My girlfriend as I said, has been here over 7 years and had MS and has been having some strange health challenges as I have, some which seem to be respiratory related to some extent. We asked the plumber to not take out the carpet today, to stop and we just told the owners that we’re not going to be here so we don’t want to leave strangers here. We didn’t want to make the owners aware of course of what their plumber told us, so as to protect his part time work with them. He’s worked for them for over 22 years. We also Must give the health department time to get back to us and hopefully come out in the next few days.

We also had massive amounts of water over the winter come into my girlfriend’s Condo along the outside walls in the bedroom and Living room has been going on for a few years and got so bad this year that water covered my girlfriend’s carpet from the wall about 3 feet out. This leakage has been going on for years and the issue gets somewhat handled by the HOA and Management Company and then it occurs again. The carpets in both places have been soaked and under water at various times this past Winter and Spring and I wouldn’t be surprised to find black mold in both of those locations also.

Questions:

What are any of your suggestions and do you believe it was a wise decision to wait about removing the carpet and repairing the leaks until the Health Department gets out here so they can measure the Black mold on the carpet and wall, inside and out in the closet and in front of the shower along the base of the floor where black mold is and where it was on the carpet? They can look underneath and measure any potential black mold.

By the way, the Father in Law said let’s not call this Black Mold, let’s call this something even more serious, Fungus which he then began calling it this morning when they came over.

Patricia in Palmdale, California

I am sure I have a mold problem in my mobile home. Back in the later 1990’s we had a major water leak under the kitchen sink. I woke up to what sounded like a waterfall, traveling through the dark in ankle high water I turned on the bathroom light too discover water flowing into the vent on the floor. My kitchen, closet, bathroom, and laundry room were full of water. We cleaned it the best we could with a water vac. However, I believe the damage was already done. Inside my closet you can touch the wall close to the floor and your fingers sink into the wall. Both bathrooms have damage also just from toilet leaks and so on. Rainy season is troubling also because all windows are leaking and I have mold in the walls of all bedrooms.

Questions:

IS MY HOUSE READY TO BE CONDEMNED? HOW SAFE IS IT FOR US TOO LIVE HERE? I have been told I have psorasis but I’m wondering if it is due to the mold.