Breaking the mold

Thursday, February 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

When it comes to mold in your home, KOTV has shown you when to call for help, and where to find experts. KOTV's Tami Marler says mold in a home can quickly become dangerous.

According to Tulsa homeowner, Phyllis Chalupsky, "I saw you on Channel 6 about a family that was having problems with mold in the home." Chalupsky was also having health problems she thought were mold-related. KOTV went along with environmental specialist Randy Smith to diagnose her home.

With high-tech air quality equipment, Smith found a number of possible reasons for Chalupsky's health problems. "Temperature at 81 is a concern because that's quite a high temperature for inside a house." Smith, who works for the Allergy Store of Tulsa adds, "we're getting into an envelope where we're no longer as a house; we're now more as a greenhouse."

In other words, breeding ground for harmful molds and bacteria. All it needs is a little moisture. Outside, Smith and building contractor Dan Gaasch found dry rot around windows. "Well see here now it gets into your wall behind the insulation and the sheetrock in the house. And what that does is put the bad mold particles into the house, where you're living."

Right now, Smith says this house sits on the borderline, but it can be saved. "Once we can change the temperature and control the temperature and the humidity, and we stop the water leaks with the windows and stuff, then we'll turn this house right around."

Many times it's a problem that's harmless and easily fixed. But problems can develop quickly. Smith says, this home has one of the worst indoor environments he's ever seen. "We're now saturating the entire yard, you can feel us just sinking as we're standing here. And down it goes - underneath the slab." And right into the air ducts.

With low temperatures outside, and warm moisture inside. Smith adds, "we're making excessive condensation, we've got a mold problem growing. And it's every window that's common to a vent in this home." Smith estimates it only took about eight weeks for some of the most dangerous molds imaginable to take over this home, and any human life, will have to go.

Experts say you can improve indoor air quality by keeping your heater fan in the "on" position, rather than "automatic". And use an HEPA purifier to keep harmful air particles to a minimum.