On Friday I was doing laundry, as I often do during the day. I stepped on the pile of dirty laundry on the floor and found that the clothes were soaking wet. Great!–I thought. The washing machine has a leak. I cleared up the entire area around the washer and dryer, used a bunch of towels to sop up the water, and tried to determine the source of the water. Luckily, our washer and dryer are in the unfinished portion of the basement, with concrete floors and cinderblock walls. Aren’t they beaUtiful?? PS–the picture below is after cleaning up.
I left the house for a little while and came back to re-investigate. Found the source. Not what I expected to find. The source of the water was a 3-foot section of my basement wall/floor that connects to the neighbor’s house (we live in a townhome). The house next door has been vacant for a year now. The water was coming from the vacant house.
Now let me give you some quick background.
We live in a townhouse, which means that we are connected to two other houses. The house on the left has been vacant for about a year now–foreclosure. Last January, I had a suspicion that a pipe had broken next door. The water company came down and confirmed my suspicion, but all they could do was to turn off the main water supply.
Fast forward a few months, and again I noticed that something was not right. Our sump pump was working over time, and we have rarely heard it during the 11 years we’ve lived here. The water company came back a few weeks ago and at least were able to confirm that we did not have a leak.
So when I found the water leaking in our house from next door, I came up with a scenario, and all of the sudden I got scared. I spent hours yesterday on the phone making calls, but nobody was in the office to answer my concerns. Guess who came through for me? I finally called the police, who sent Fire and Rescue out within 15 minutes.
Four of the nicest guys I’ve ever met climbed in through a window next door and went exploring. Unfortunately, they confirmed my fears. Not only was there standing water in their basement from the leak 5 months ago, but their sump pump is overflowed (and will continue to overflow as long as we have rain) and…here’s the best part….there is black mold 4 feet up every wall. And yes, it is most definitely Black mold–the toxic kind. No question about it.
The fire department says that I should not let the kids go down in our basement anymore, and to call the Dept. of Health 1st thing Monday morning to have the house condemned. Luckily (?!) the government takes black mold very seriously. Here’s a little bit that I learned about black mold this weekend:
Toxic molds can suppress the immune system, or damage intestines, skin, or lungs. They can increase susceptibility to cancer. They can cause blood vessels in the skin or lungs to rupture. (Could that be the cause of the deep bruising on my ankles that appeared out of nowhere and won’t go away?!!?)
Toxic molds are reported to cause nausea and diarrhea, depression, headaches, tremors, kidney problems, and infertility.
No wonder I’ve been having head and body aches for weeks!
No wonder Twizzler and KitKat have had throat problems all season long! And to think that I just scheduled their surgeries last week!!
No wonder my brain feels muddled and I can’t go to sleep.
I hate to imagine what else breathing this mold has done to us!
So….we have not lost about half of our living space. As soon as CandyMan came back in town last night, we started the massive process of removing all of our belongings from the basement. We are already crammed into our space as it is, and now we have 600 square feet less. (that picture over there is my family room last night after the kids carried load after load upstairs. They were good sports, but not the most organized)
We will have to wait for the Dept. of Health to measure the spore count in our house to determine if the main floor and bedrooms are safe for us. If not, then I suppose we’ll be looking for a new place to hang out for a while.
As if I didn’t have enough stresses right now.
My friend Helen told me that someone must think I have pretty broad shoulders. Should I take that as a compliment?
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