Northern Wisconsin Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

We often think that when it comes to mold, fruit and veggies are the main culprits in the home.

Not so, and in fact, they are carrying the brunt of the bad rep for all the other millions of microbes and spores that are in our homes.

Just thinking about the fact that the average N. Wisconsin home is filled with that much microbial and fungal life is enough to make the any of us want to head to the shower for a scrub-your-skin-off decontamination session.

But not so fast. Let’s think about this.

In our last post, we mentioned that the tanks of toilets are hot-beds for microbial and fungal/mold growth. Why? Because of the bacteria brought in proximity multiple times daily? In part, yes. But the real reason is much more commonplace than that – and was the issue that could be remedied:

The presence of water.

Anywhere that water is, life is not far behind. In fact, it’s usually on the march to thrive.

As Doctor Joseph Lstibureck put it in his 2008 medical write-up on mold for Building Science,

“Mold requires water. No water, no mold. Mold is the result of a water problem. Fix the water problem. Clean up the mold. And you have fixed the mold problem. To avoid mold problems, avoid water problems.”

It’s a simple as that.

Are any of these health symptoms found in your home?

  • allergic reactions
  • runny nose
  • persistent sore throat
  • red eyes
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • skin rashes
  • shortness of breath
  • asthma
  • seasonal bronchitis
  • frequently upset stomach

Any one of those issues could come from outside sources – but they have also been directly related to mold and other common home bacteria infestations.

You may be saying,“But, I clean my house religiously. My floors, my rugs, my furniture, my central air vents, my bathroom fixtures/toilet/shower, my windows, my kid’s toys – everything.”

Ok, that’s all very good. But you may still have a problem hiding elsewhere that is not so readily visible.

So how do we find out if we have a mold problem? Well, logic states that if we have a water problem, we have mold problem. We should look for that.

How often do you clean your sink drains?

We wash our faces, brush our teeth, wash our vegetables, scrub our dishes (often with only grease-cutting solutions – not disinfecting ones), and even bathe our miniature poodles in the sinks of our kitchen and bathroom.

These questions may sound patronizing, but:

Is water going down there?

Do things that could catch in the plugs and drains go down regularly (food scraps, hair, dirt, etc)?

Have you checked to see if anything has built up on the drain plugs or in the garbage disposal?

Go to one of your drains and pull the plug.

Is it:

  • Darkened?
  • Covered in white patches?
  • Slippery?
  • Coated with ANYTHING?
  • Smelling like ANYTHING?

If you answered “yes” to any of those, I hate to say it, but you have a mold and bacteria problem in your house.

Some things to remember about mold and bacteria is that they readily travel through the air with the slightest splash of water or breeze.

From there, it can go anywhere in your home and grow a new colony.

That photo at the top is from my window in my home.

When we moved in, we ended up leaving for a multi-week trip within a week. When we returned home, there was mold on our windows. We had not had the chance to deep clean the house before leaving, so I immediately went to the sink drains to see if they had been cleaned by the prior owners.

What I found in each was something that I will not describe to you because you deserve to keep your lunch down.

Here’s the kicker: Our house is less than 5 years old, has a great central air system, and was in great condition when we moved in.

Two factors caused the mold buildup in our home.

  1. The prior owners didn’t clean their drains.
  2. We turned the A/C off when we left on our trip, allowing the internal humidity of the house to rise with the outside air.

In essence, our home became a massive petri dish.

So, how do you fight it? It’s really quite simple.

  1. Clean your drain plugs weekly with a disinfecting solution (actually pull them out to do this).
  2. Clean your drains with a bio-friendly solution like BioClean (we sell this and our Partner Plan members enjoy this service).
  3. Keep your A/C running when it is hot, humid, or both outside (like right now). Your A/C CONDITIONS the air – it doesn’t just cool it. That A/C is essential to keeping your home below the 60% internal humidity tipping point.
  4. Run the bathroom fan for 15 minutes after a shower or bath to help remove moisture. (also, make sure that fan is clean)
  5. Use a fan or de-humidifier in areas of the home that don’t have central air. These areas can be hot-beds for air-born illness.

Beyond the DIY, one of the services we offer for home safety is Indoor Air Quality testing. In fact, we are one of the few in the Three Lakes, Rhinelander, & Wausau areas to provide the service. We can not only diagnose and give comprehensive data on what’s going on with the air in your home, but provide you with some state-of-the-art options with ways to combat especially complex air quality challenges.

You can learn more about that here.

As always, remember that if you have questions or concerns with anything in your home, you can call us and we’ll have one of our highly trained and knowledgeable technicians come and out take a look.