Interview With Jack and Helen Graham: Mold Sensitized Success Story
For the past four years, I suffered from upper and lower digestive issues, extreme fatigue, and weakness. I was diagnosed with the lethal condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (unknown cause, hence no treatment). Later it was determined that the fibrosis was caused by acid reflux, which is treatable. I began to have difficulty breathing, which made me question the quality of our indoor air. The link between my health problems, poor indoor air quality and mold seems to be confirmed by the fact that when the house was retrofitted with new equipment and extensively cleaned my symptoms have largely been alleviated. Medical tests have shown improvement in my breathing and improved lung health. (Helen Graham)
Johnny Wells, owner of Mold-B-Gone, invested in the training from Wonder Makers Environmental so that he can offer a higher level of service and expertise to individuals suffering from mold related illnesses. Johnny also works with Stephen Andrews of HealthyAirUSA, another graduate of the course. Together, they are serving the needs of mold sensitized individuals in Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding areas.
Below is an interview with Jack and Helen Graham, who hired Mold-B-Gone and HealthyAirUSA, to investigate the indoor air quality of their home and most importantly remediate the mold and make sure that the indoor air quality contributed to their health and well-being.
1. When was mold identified as the cause of your sickness?
17 years ago we moved into our 2800 square foot three story dream home, which was approximately 30 years old. We are very fastidious with the cleaning and maintenance of the home.
Within two years of moving in, we began to find leaking issues with sewer pipes and other pipes in the home. In addition to fixing these issues, over the years we also installed a new roof, flooring, chimney, outside exterior, windows, and doors. We even hired a restoration company to remediate some mold and dry out other areas in the home.
Despite our efforts to fix moisture issues and remediate mold, Helen’s health continued to deteriorate.
In Helen’s words:
“For the past four years, I suffered from upper and lower digestive issues, extreme fatigue, and weakness. I was diagnosed with the lethal condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (unknown cause, hence no treatment). Later it was determined that the fibrosis was caused by acid reflux. I began to have difficulty breathing, which made me question the quality of our indoor air.”
2. What caused the mold in your house?
The mold was not obvious. We had noticed there was more dust on our furniture, though we were keeping our furniture and interior surfaces very clean.
When the Mold-B-Gone specialists inspected our home they used high intensity lights shown at an angle and on nearly every surface there were tiny specks of white mold spores.
What we learned is that in any home here in the South where the humidity is almost always above 70% and where homes are air-conditioned, mold invariably exists, no matter how much one cleans. This is even more prevalent in older homes.
3. What remediation contractor did you use?
“After 71 years of health and physically energetic living, I experienced fatigue, shortness of breath, and bodily pains. A colleague I worked with 7 years ago was so sick and weak she had to crawl up her home stairs. After seeing her early this year, she was energetic, enjoying her career and family, and looked wonderful. We had switched places: she was healed, and I was quite sick. Her thriving health seemed miraculous, so I asked her how she became well.”
Initially we had another mold removal specialist do an inspection of our home. He took pictures inside the ducts and above the drop-down ceiling and wanted to remove all the ducts and air flow systems. The estimated cost was $59,000 and the time for completion was two months.
The price, time, and other factors seemed high. We felt scare tactics were employed hearing twice the unacceptable statement, “I am sure you want your wife to live, don’t you?” Both of us decided not to hire that company.
After their work was complete, her health improved dramatically.
Specifically, we hired them for three key reasons.
First, their assessment of the problems was thorough and very professional. They used specialized equipment to measure humidity and moisture levels in each area of the home.
Second, they educated us on the different types of mold and fungi and explained how they would resolve the problem. There is no shame in having home mold. We always thought homes get mold if they are not cleaned properly, so we have been conscientious about maintaining the cleanliness of our home.
Finally, the cost was reasonable. The total cost for remediation, including new equipment not proposed by the first remediator, was $22,000, and it would only take 6 to 8 days!
4. How long did it take for the work to be completed?
We were impressed by the persons in the crew, and enjoyed their professionalism, competence and respect for our home. We enjoyed being with them in the mornings before we left for work.
The work was finished in 8 days, as they predicted. They worked Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to overhaul all the air flow systems and returned the next Monday for 5 days to clean every object in the home. We had the weekend to ourselves, which seemed miraculous to us!
They explained in advance exactly what was going to happen and did not miss a beat in holding to their schedule.
They completed the job exactly as they said they would. We were introduced to every person who came into our home, and given a full appraisal of their experience.
At the end of the job they checked the air quality in every room to ensure that the fungal ecology was at healthy levels.
5. What difference do you think it made working with a mold sensitized trained contractor?
Both of us noticed the effects of clean air immediately.
It made all the difference in the world to have a mold-sensitized trained contractor!
They knew what needed to be done. Both mold remediation, as well as the machinery and air circulation that were needed to cleanse the air and keep humidity at 40%, so mold could not be present.
They said that the air quality in the Master Bedroom was “surgical room quality.”
The air just seems “pure,” “fresh,” “hygienic,” “blue—if that is an image of cleanliness.”
We still have our house cleaned every two weeks, but the accumulation of dust is a tenth of what it was.
Perhaps the sense of the air quality is physiological, perhaps it is psychological, but Helen feels her breathing and energy are much better. I (Jack) have always grown up in old musty-smelling houses, but now that we have become educated about the harmful effects of mold, we are most grateful for the quality of this home improvement, and for the trust that we have experienced in the people who did this work.
6. What were the main steps/processes involved in the remediation?
After we made the decision to get the work done, we met with Johnny of Mold-B-Gone and Stephen of HealthyAirUSA as soon as possible. They told us that it would take 6-8 days and were very clear about what would happen on each day. We had assumed we would have to move out while the work was being done, yet they said that would not be necessary…what superb news!
With respect to specific steps, this is what they did.
They brought in a top tier duct cleaning service using 10,000 lbs of suction pressure. Then the edges of every duct opening where it meets the ceiling, were sealed. A large HEPA Air Cleaning system was added above the Master Bedroom. Then a large dehumidifier was added to dry out the entire house and keep the humidity of the house at a constant 47 percent, a level where no mold can grow and yet the wood does not dry and crack. The ceiling tiles in the lower level were all removed and cleaned on both sides and re-installed, the wood joists and all surfaces were coated with a mold preventative.
Once this step was completed, Mold-B-Gone brought in their team of five technicians who did a basement to roof cleaning of every surface and object, wiping every surface with a mold prevention cleaner developed by Johnny Wells. They were meticulous, cleaning every lamp, every object, every picture, every piece of furniture turned upside down, every drawer removed, emptied, cleaned, the contents cleaned, every one of about 3000 books individually cleaned. They took particular interest and care in cleaning about 60 antiquity objects dating from 5000 BCE to about 850 CE. This process took five days and they cleaned 12 rooms, including the garage.
For added “peace of mind”, there was a site supervisor that ensured that each step documented for us was followed through upon.
7. Further thoughts?
We highly recommend HealthyAirUSA and Mold-B-Gone because of the care and respect they demonstrated for the contents of home. Most importantly, they were easy to work with, friendly, and did an exceptional job.
Months after they were finished, Mold-B-Gone returned to investigate the mold on the caulking of the master shower. When Johnny and his staff supervisor, Rick, arrived it was liking seeing cherished friends. They are excellent professionals, fun and down-to-earth. They removed the contaminated caulking and re-caulked the shower and even brought ladders in to replace light bulbs in the hall entry at no extra cost.
Working with them was a marvelous experience because of their attitude, work ethic, and outstanding work. We have already referred friends and family to Mold-B-Gone and HealthyAirUSA because of their exceptional service.
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— Mold B Gone (@moldbgonega) February 12, 2016