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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    13

    IAQ testing in indianapolis?

    I have a slight musty smell in our house, I think it mostly in the area around the crawl space but also get hints of it upstairs from time to time in our bedroom. I'm having a hard time finding a reputable IAQ testing company that doesn't seem gimmicky and doesn't also offer mold remediation.

    Here's a little back story.

    I moved into a house last year and immediately my wife and 2yr old son started to have a stuffy noises and sinus infections. Long story short the previous owners had a very small dehumidifier in the basement and it wasn't keeping enough moisture out of the air. There was a musty smell in the basement and I found what looked like to be a little mold growth on the ceiling joists. Had several mold companies out to look and air testing done. 2 things that I learned was that the air test showed just a slight elevation of mold but not much and that most mold companies like to use scare tactics.

    We ended up have a mold remediation done cause we didn't know what else to do. After the remediation nothing changed as far as the allergy symptom that my wife and son were having. Upon further research it turns out the carpeting on the house was the main issue, if I pulled back a corner of the carpet and padding my wife would have to go outside do to coughing and wheezing. All carpeting was replace right before winter and all seemed well throughout the winter.

    This spring some allergy symptoms came back but they were pretty much normal with seasonal allergies. When we turned on the A/C the wife noticed more symptoms so I decided to check out the duct board that was surrounding the A/C coil and found some mold. I had the section of duct board replaced with sheet metal.

    The symptoms are still present but kind off and on but the musty smell when entering the house above the crawl space never goes away. The only catch is that when I stick my head in the crawl space it doesn't smell musty. The crawl space has a small vent to the outside and it is usually above 50% humidity.

    My immediate thought is to have some IAQ testing done to see if there is high mold levels in any given section of the house. However I have my doubts about the testing since the original ones I had done didn't show what ever allergens were in the carpet.

    Well that is my long winded story, any idea on what I should do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    I'm not a professional but based on what I do know, obsessed about and experienced, I suggest 1) moving, or 2) getting humidity <= 50% everywhere (basement and crawlspace included) and running a portable HEPA filter in every room until you've maintained humidity <= 50% for a year (hint: get the biggest HEPA filters you can afford, run on the lowest speed because the noise can get to you). Some people will say <=60% but hygrometers are quite inaccurate, and there may still be spots at > 60% even if the room seems to be at 55%.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    12,189
    As soon as you installed the new carpet, mold started growing. I'd replace with a solid surface and use throw rugs.
    Perhaps you should have read the instructions before calling.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    East coast USA
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    1,000
    there are many threads here that can offer you suggestions. But, i would not spend the money on a IAQ testing from some dude who is going to tell you, you have high humidity. You figured that out yourself.

    I agree with pmeunier getting equipment that can handle your issues is a start. But, you need to look at the whole picture. how was the house built, is the basement underground, does it have footing drains, are the walls cracked, does the crawl space have vapor barriers, is the dirt pitched away from you house, roof drains working, any pipes leaking, is the crawl space wet, basically you need to find the source of the moisture, I would call in contractors, call as many as you can find, and not just building contractors, landscapers or find some commercial water proofing companies but try to talk to as many as you can. Than make your plan.

    dig some holes around your house down to footing and see how wet the soil is. what is the block size of you walls? you can run equipment forever, but if you plan on living there for a while you have to find the root for your families sake.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    Quote Originally Posted by jrbenny View Post
    As soon as you installed the new carpet, mold started growing. I'd replace with a solid surface and use throw rugs.
    Good point -- for some reason I thought he meant he got rid of the carpet, but he does say "replaced". Yes, the new carpet likely grew mold as well. The carpet itself may even be helping the mold to grow if one side is cooler than the other, by condensing humidity in the carpet. For several reasons, carpets need to go when you fight allergies.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    [QUOTE=dlove;16956801
    ...
    I agree with pmeunier getting equipment that can handle your issues is a start. ...[/QUOTE]

    My point is more that regardless of which combination of equipment and remediation you use to get the humidity down to 50%, allergens aren't going to immediately vanish. Even after the mold stops growing by lowering the humidity, there will still be allergens in the dust and basically everywhere for a significant period of time (perhaps not as long if you're good at cleaning and vacuuming). Air filtration will likely help make it livable sooner.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    13
    Here's a little update and clarification. The carpeting was only replaced on the 2nd level and solid surface floors on the main level. The carpet in the basement was ripped out and no floor put in yet, will probably do stained concrete when we have the extra money.

    I believe I have most of the water drainage issues taken care of. New concrete patio in place of the one that was running water towards the house. The landscaping could have a little more grade but it is acceptable as is now. The basement drain tile is doing its job.

    The crawlspace also had cellulose insulation on the walls which couldn't have been a good combination considering the high humidity levels in the crawl. Having the patio grade fixed some of the dampness in the crawlspace but I decided to go further. All cellulose in the crawspace has been removed and replaced with foam board attached to the walls. Then I sealed off the outside vent to the crawlspace and installed a new vapor barrier along the floor and up the walls. Then put a small vent in one of the HVAC supply lines to condition the crawl. So basically now the crawlspace in just another conditioned room. There some light discoloring on the floor joists in the crawlspace which is probably mold growth but it is very very light. For now I've left it alone figuring that as long as the humidity is low the growth has stopped and won't release any spores as long as it's not disturbed. Current humidity is the same as the rest of the house 30%-40%.

    At the same time I discovered a roof leak in the same section of the house over the crawl space. I don't think there was any water making into the wall or house. I think the water was just making its way into the soffit. But after having the leak fixed and the crawlspace redone the musty smell is gone. However my family has been passing colds, strep throat, ear infections around since all this work was done so I cannot really tell if our allergy symptoms have improved or not.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    13
    Also I'm in need of a new furnace, current 25yr old one is short cycling and the condenser fan starting to vibrate. I figure it's not worth sinking money into. Anyway I currently have the lennox healthy climete cabinet with a 20x25x5 merv 10 filter. I've been think that I might want to try the Merv 16 filter they have but I'm concerned with too much restriction do to the filter and shortening the life span of a new furnace. Any suggestions? Or I guess I could buy the filter and when the new furnace is installed have them do a pressure check of the system.

    Also I noticed awhile back that I had about a 1" x 4" hole in the return line in the attic. The hole is where a flex line comes into a ductboard trunk, the hole for the flexline was over cut. For now I just put a bandaid on it consisting of duct tape. I'm not versed in HVAC stuff but the flexline metal joint that goes into the ductboard is the same height as the ductboard wall that the line is going into. So I don't really see away to fix what is currently there. I think my best option is to run a new flexline to a different location on the trunk and seal up the current hole.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    13
    Quote Originally Posted by dlove View Post
    there are many threads here that can offer you suggestions. But, i would not spend the money on a IAQ testing from some dude who is going to tell you, you have high humidity. You figured that out yourself.

    I agree with pmeunier getting equipment that can handle your issues is a start. But, you need to look at the whole picture. how was the house built, is the basement underground, does it have footing drains, are the walls cracked, does the crawl space have vapor barriers, is the dirt pitched away from you house, roof drains working, any pipes leaking, is the crawl space wet, basically you need to find the source of the moisture, I would call in contractors, call as many as you can find, and not just building contractors, landscapers or find some commercial water proofing companies but try to talk to as many as you can. Than make your plan.

    dig some holes around your house down to footing and see how wet the soil is. what is the block size of you walls? you can run equipment forever, but if you plan on living there for a while you have to find the root for your families sake.
    I feel the same way as you do as in trying to fix the issues causing the problems instead of treating the problems. But it's turning out to be pretty damn expensive. It would be nice if the wife and kids were like me and not have allergy issues, nothing seems to bother me allergy wise.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Indianapolis IN
    Posts
    404
    What part of Indianapolis? We do work on the south side.
    ______________________________

    I lift things up and put them down.

  11. #11
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    Aug 2013
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    13
    avon/brownsburg area

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by jrbenny View Post
    As soon as you installed the new carpet, mold started growing. I'd replace with a solid surface and use throw rugs.
    I fully agree with that.I too had similar kind of issue.I then hired a indoor air quality testing team to fix it.We too had installed a carpet.They said carpet is the reason for mold.As soon as we removed the carpet, the mold issue were also solved.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    Quote Originally Posted by ws6guy View Post
    ... (snip)

    Current humidity is the same as the rest of the house 30%-40%.

    ... (snip) the musty smell is gone. However my family has been passing colds, strep throat, ear infections around since all this work was done so I cannot really tell if our allergy symptoms have improved or not.
    It sounds like you have the mold issue well under control. Fighting allergies can be exhausting and affect one's health for a while. Colds, strep throat, ear infections have different causes, but I wouldn't entirely dismiss the possibility that prior allergies weakened them and predisposed them to the infections. This is of course speculation, as I'm not a doctor and I don't know you. I'd say have faith in the progress you've made in providing a good environment and give it a little more time -- as long as mold has stopped growing and you keep your house clean, things should get better.

    When you get your new furnace, specify that you want it to work with the MERV 16 filter. A new furnace installation is the best time to change filter specs. A good HVAC company should be able to make it work correctly. Also ask if they can check & fix some of the leaks around the filter that the Lennox healthy climate cabinet allows.
    -If you won't turn it on then nothing else matters.

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