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Cathryn McAdams – Daly City, CA

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Here is my story about mold in my home.

I am retired and live on my own in a little home near San Francisco. Well, I have a cat also, and I babysit my grandchildren whenever I can, but for the most part it’s just me. My husband passed away several years ago from cancer. He smoked, but I never did, but the house has some darker corners and still sometimes smells a little like his cigar, especially in the living room. I suppose I was used to odd smells in the house. Maybe it’s just the neighborhood, because sometimes I can smell the ocean, and sometimes the cigar smoke, and sometimes the rain. But whatever the case, I did smell some musty odor about a year ago and I didn’t think too much about it at the time, because like I said, there are all sorts of weird smells, especially also with the cats. I had three cats back then. All of them were strays who kind of found their way to me after Austin, my husband, passed away, and we kind of helped each other.

Like I was saying the smells were not so bothersome, but I noticed some black marks on the wall in the living room that were not the cigar smoke from before, because they were near the base of the walls, near the floor. The living room is downstairs since the house is on a real slope, so it’s kind of a basement and it is sometimes cold and damp down there. I should have guessed it was mold because of the smell and the black marks on the walls. But then I don’t go too much into the living room because I don’t do stairs so well.  I mostly like to read my stories in the tea room and the kitchen where there’s a lot more light and where the cats like to sit by the windows.

The day the trouble came was when my daughter dropped her children off to spend the afternoon with grandma. One of them is almost seven and the other is three but was two at the time. The living room is much better for kids since it was mostly Austin’s room, his “office” and it has big chairs and board games for the kids to play and there’s a door to the backyard. I don’t like them in my “tea room” since there are some decorations that aren’t for children to be playing with. Well the kids were downstairs for a while and I was making supper in the kitchen when Jesse, the older one, came up to me and said he was having asthma. Well he had asthma before, and allergies, but he didn’t have his medicine with him and he was breathing very heavily like he was about to faint. I called my daughter and her husband and he rushed over from work with Jesse’s inhaler. Jim, my son in law, went down into the living room to check on the little girl, and he came right back upstairs and said the place smelled to high heaven and was overrun with mold. I went down to see for myself and there was a bad smell and the black mold on the walls was much more this time than the last time I was down there.

Well I told him that I’d get some pine sol and bleach and scrub it out the next day, but Jim didn’t want me working like that in that room and besides it’s not safe. He used to do construction and said mold was a serious matter. So he called a mold inspector from Bay Area Mold Services to come to my house and run the tests for mold and see what could be done. The man did his testing and looking and sure enough it was the bad kind of black mold that was on the wallpaper of the living room. They said it was very dangerous for young ones and folks like myself, and of course I was very sorry to let Jesse and Lisa play down there. I suppose I just didn’t know that mold could be so bad, and I’m glad it was just a little spell of asthma for Jesse. They said there were some problems with water getting into the walls from the ground, because the house is old and the living room is below the ground for some of it. They said they could clean it and remove the mold, but then the house is still letting water in, so I should want to get the walls removed and re-do the living room, from the walls to the floor and the whole mess. They provided a bid to take care of everything for me (and didn’t charge nearly as much as I thought they would charge).

I suppose all told I was pretty lucky to get the mold taken care of. It was just in the downstairs living room, and now that the new walls are in place my grandkids can go down there and play. They also put a new window in the room so that there’s more light down there. I think sometimes I miss the cigar smell from Austin’s office. But it’s a small price to pay for safe grandchildren.