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Today my niece turns eight. We're missing the wedding, but I'm still having trouble breathing so it's not as upsetting as it could have been. Last night the girls and I watched some Scooby Doo episodes. We agreed that the puppeteer one is legitimately creepy and it gave me a shiver when the DVD stopped on the spot where the doorman's head started leaning. I was very tired, but for some reason I stayed up much later than I would have liked. Yesterday the mold guy came over and now I feel silly since he said we could clean the basement ourselves. He had a lot of good advice including some thinks that I hadn't really thought about earlier. A wall I hadn't worried about he said should come down and a small storage room he thought would be fine to leave up after it was thoroughly cleaned. He said wiping down any exposed surfaces would help reduce dust, dirt, and mold spores. I learned that bleach is for hard solid surfaces like windows and countertops and other cleaners were better for porous surfaces such as wood and cement blocks. It was pretty embarrassing to have him pull out the filter for the dehumidifier which was caked with dust. I went outside to clean that and then ran it under water to clean particles off of it. 

He doesn't think we have a clog in our sump pump or we would probably have standing water or trickles in a certain area. What he thinks is happening is the dirt behind our basement walls is damp, moisture is trying to force its way through, dirt comes along with it, and mold is trying to grow on that lower layer of blocks. Mold is a plant so it sends out a root system and then tries to find a food source. I showed him the areas I scrubbed and he could see where mold was trying to get through, but he doesn't think it's a big concern at this point in time since it hasn't been able to grow and spread. He said I would know if I had an active mold problem since it would look like one of those science experiments gone wrong I sometimes find in the fridge. His concern are the areas where spores can hang out and chill until conditions are right for them to grow. Whoever put up the wall in our basement did not use treated lumber, there's old drywall down there and he said that needs to go since that paper coating is something mold would devour given the chance. We also have a large pile of molding and some wood from various other projects. Cleaning it would be a nightmare, it would have to be cleaned piece by piece, and I'm not really interested in trying to salvage it since I would forever be worried about the smell from the basement and the possibility that we had missed spores while cleaning. Maybe this isn't the right mindest to have, but I can see water damage on a big piece of wood we have down there, and that kind of scares me.

When I told him about the idea our bathroom contractor had to put insulation up and build a thin psuedo wall by the crawl space he thought that was a great idea. He also thinks we should have our ductwork cleaned since we haven't ever done it and I doubt it was done before we moved in here. He said he's been in homes where there are inches of dust and dirt that had accumulated over the years and even admitted it was something he needed to do in his own home. I called the heating and cooling company we've used in the past, but they no longer clean ducts so I'll have to find someone else. I have a guy coming out on Monday for a furnace and A/C inspection and hopefully he has some recommendations. Basically anything you can do to keep things dry and clean is going to reduce the chances that you have an active outbreak of mold. He said our basement was cleaner than about eighty percent of the ones he sees, that made me feel really good. He said people stick things down in their basement and then they can't even see the walls and shelves where mold is growing. If I was a big believer in eliminating clutter before, you had better believe his visit intensified that. Basements around here are just not very good for storing things. Even new and dry basements tend to have a certain smell about them and with the weather we've been having I'm sure basements across the state are at an increased risk for mold and mildew. He doesn't think we have a serious mold infestation, but there are some maintenance things we need to do such as tearing down old walls, and it should be thoroughly cleaned.

Their company could come over and scrape the old glue off from when the basement was paneled, he said we might want to think about that if we're ever going to sell, but it's not a new home and people should be able to see that the black streaks aren't pathogenic mold. An area a lot of people overlook is their water softener. He says ours looks good, but it should be washed down with hot soapy water and thoroughly dried. He recommends that a basement be cleaned every three months or so. Items should be stored up off the floor whenever possible just in case water gets into a basement, and he even recommends wiping down things that are stored on any shelving people may have. He said people can save themselves a lot of money and heartache by proactively keeping their basement clean, I know from talking to a couple people who have had major water in their basement that it is not fun to have to remove damaged personal possessions after flooding and leaks. My former mother-in-law had to deal with that when there were floods in Michigan. She stores a lot of stuff and they had to carry out quite a bit of sodden and ruined furniture and other things they had down there. A girlfriend of mine had to help her parents when they had water in their basement. I think they lost a very nice pool table in that mess. We've had inches of water in our basement from a sump pump that backed up. We were supposed to be going on a trip and I was down in the basement trying to heave water logged clothes into plastic bins so I could start washing them again. This is back when our dirty laundry fell on the basement floor and I sometimes put folded laundry in baskets on the floor. It was a nightmare to clean up and after that I put a bin down for the clothes to fall into although it's since been moved so I have to remember to put that back again. I also purchased an inexpensive rolling cart for sorting laundry and that thing has been worth every penny. 

I'm going to the doctor today. I'm glad because this allergy stuff is getting to me. I just read the pamphlet on mold that makes a lot of good points. Mold needs three things to grow; time, moisture, and food. It can start growing within forty-eight hours and removing it the wrong way can ruin a property or building. Anytime there's a musty smell it's probably mold, mold can be active or dormant, and it's important to be able to recognize that dormant mold could become an active case. I'm so glad I had that guy out here for an inspection. He said he wouldn't write up a formal estimate for me since he didn't see anything that would warrant professionals coming out. My challenge is going to be finding people to help me with this since I can't really do a lot of the larger projects myself and I'm not going to give myself an asthma attack again. That was really dumb of me. So I learned some lessons and I could write more about my Anger-Free book, there wasn't a little quiz at the end of this chapter so you are temporarily spared from that, but I'm going to keep reading and I know that keeping an anger diary would probably help me so I'm going to commit to doing that with the help of some people who know me well. I'm not looking forward to that, but as with all of these things, small sustainable steps will add up to larger changes that I need and want in my life.