Dear Donndez – I took a job in New Mexico because my daughter was suffering from mold allergies. We moved here from Missouri and everything was great for the first three years. We had a pool installed this spring and she is now showing signs of that allergy again. Is it possible the pool caused a mold issue in the desert? – Joseph P, Santa Fe
Dear Joseph – I hate to say it, but yes, mold can exist in New Mexico. The mold may have started with the pool, but there are other things to consider. For example, do swimmers slosh into the house? Wallboard and the backside of carpets are great growth mediums for mold and bacteria. Is there a water barrier between the earth and the wall of the house? The need for a water barrier is double if you have a basement. If an older home, is there a minor leak in the roof you may not have detected yet?
It is true that mold and bacteria cannot survive in the hot New Mexico sun, but shaded areas enable this microscopic problem to exist. As you have learned, shaded areas can be as much as 15 degrees cooler than in the sun. It is even cooler on the backside of carpeting, inside wallboards, or under the soil alongside your house’s foundation.
Have your daughter tested to determine whether it is her mold allergy that is causing the problem. If it is, you will need to get test samples from the areas the mold may be growing in order to accurately pinpoint the affected area. Spray the area with Tea Tree Oil, then wrap the area in plastic to isolate it. The tea tree will slow it down considerably, which would be helpful while you find a contractor to come in and fix this.
One last note –get a qualified contractor. There are a lot of contractors who claim they can fix this, but without specialized training, you will end up paying twice if you don’t get someone qualified. You need to find someone who is certified from an agency like the NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors), IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration) or ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification). Good luck, Joseph!
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Til next week – Good health to you and your family!