How to Find and Prevent Mold: Windows and Doors

Article Summary: In this article, I’m going to be looking at windows and doors in relation to mold. More specifically, I’m going to discuss how to install windows and doors properly coming from the perspective of a former building contractor who has spent a lot of time studying what it means to build a quality home. Along the way, I’ll point out common errors builders make that lead to water intrusion and subsequent mold growth. Quite often builders and inspectors fail to build homes that will remain water tight beyond the first few years of their lives. Later, I’ll look at why regular window cleaning is important to those with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). May 27, 2016

Window Flowers

Flashing Overview

Z-Flashing FHB

When it comes to windows and doors, it’s all about the flashing. In fact, whenever you have an intersection between to different building components, there is a risk of water intrusion and flashing is needed. When a chimney or sidewall intersects a roof, you need flashing. When a window or door is installed into a wall, you need flashing. When you break up courses of siding with trim boards, you need more flashing. It’s all about flashing.

So what do I mean by flashing? Very often we’re talking about sheet metal that is bent and installed in such a way so as to keep the water out at building intersections. However, for this article, flashing can also be various water impervious building membranes/papers that are overlapped and installed in such a way to keep walls and roofs dry. You’ll see what I mean when we get into some details later. Flashing is a thin, water impervious, material used at building intersections to keep water out.

When my grandfather was a builder, they knew all about flashing. Carpenters formed up copper sheet metal and soldered them together to make all sorts of custom door and window flashing. Caulk really wasn’t an option back then. If there was a leak-prone intersection, they installed tar paper and metal flashing to keep the water out. Unfortunately, times have changed. Today, builders seem to think that a bead of caulk is just as good as flashing. It’s not; it’s not even close.

Granted, they make some awesome caulks nowadays. You know it’s good when after getting some on your hands, it’s nearly impossible to get off. You have to let it “wear” off. Some high quality gutter and siding caulks are like this. They’re great for helping to minimize water infiltration, for reducing the burden on flashing, but they are not a substitute for proper flashing. I repeat; caulk is not a substitute for flashing.

The reason is that all caulk eventually fails. The ultra-violet light from sun degrades darn near everything. Add to this movement from changes in humidity and temperature, and it’s no wonder that every few years I have to go around and touch up the caulking where our siding intersects corner and window trim boards. Knowing full well that caulking should not be relied upon to keep walls dry, I installed wide strips of tar paper flashing under all the trim boards and lapped it over the building wrap. In so doing, what little water does weep through gaps in the siding where caulking has failed is kept out of the walls.

Window Flashing

Window Flange

So let’s look at how to flash a window properly so no water gets in. To start, we need to look at how windows are set into walls. Basically, the carpenter frames out the wall so there is an opening 1/2″ wider and taller than the actual window itself. This 1/2″ gap is important because it’s too time consuming for the carpenter to get the rough window opening perfectly plumb and level. The extra gap allows the window installer to use shims to true up the window in the rough opening.

If you’re new to all of this, you may be wondering about how air and water is kept out of that larger (1/2″) gap. The answer is various forms of flashing. To start, all new windows have a flange that runs around the window and covers over the rough opening gap. Many years ago when they first started making window flanges, many of them leaked. Today, all but the cheapest windows have integral window flanges that can be expected to be water-tight and last the life of the window.

Given that window flanges cover the rough opening gap, and are well sealed to the window itself, the real concern is how to keep any water that gets behind the siding from slipping underneath the window flange and getting into the walls. I’ll talk about siding in another article, but suffice it to say that all siding leaks. Siding was never intended to be water tight. I don’t care if it’s wood, cement board, vinyl, brick, or otherwise. Siding sheds the bulk of rain water but some water always gets through. Water always gets in around window, door, trim, and various other gaps.

Given the fact that all siding leaks, let’s take a brief look at how to properly flash window flanges. Now I could spend another two pages writing in detail on how to flash a window properly. However, there are many good articles on the subject. I particularly like the articles from The Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding. I was an avid reader during my building years. Although the technique varies a bit dependent on an east versus west geographic location, the overall approach is the same.

Window Flashing

In brief, the building wrap is cut and tucked in along the sides while the upper flap is temporarily lifted up out of the way. Next, the window sill gets extra heavy, wide, butyl rubber based, self-adhering tape applied. After that, caulk is applied to the backside of the window flange and the window is installed. The sides are then taped with more heavy window tape before the head flap is folded down over the upper window flange and taped in place. The idea is that as you move from the bottom of the window toward the top, each successive layer of tape and building wrap laps over the lower layer so water flowing down the face of the building stays on the outside of the wrap.

So that’s all well and good. The trouble is that it’s only been within maybe the last 15 years that carpenters started using this practice in earnest. It was quite common for builders to slap a bead of caulk on the back of the window flange and then nail it in place. There wasn’t any layering of flashing, there was no tape. All it takes is a bad siding job combined with a pinhole in the wrong place around the window flange for the walls to get really wet. The last house I built was in 2010 and I was giving the carpenters lessons on how to properly flash a window.

Window Set With Arch

To make matters worse, carpenters often do not flash the finish trim and siding properly around windows. Remember, the trim and siding is supposed to keep most of the water out leaving small amounts to be handled by window flanges, window tape, and properly lapped building wrap. To give you an example of what I’m referring to, take a look at this set of double-hung windows with an arched top above. It looks great. The house is in an expensive suburb of Chicago. However, when you look more closely, you realize that the trim and siding details are poorly executed.

Z-Flashing James Hardie

To begin, these windows are trimmed out with cedar boards. Inevitably, there is always some small gap where the board abuts the side of the window. To minimize water infiltration, the carpenter should have sealed all cut ends of trim boards with good primer paint and then laid a bead of quality caulk along the window side. In so doing, the caulk fills the entire depth of any gaps between the window and the trim as the trim board is pressed into place and nailed. In comparison, filling gaps between the trim board and window after the fact with a thin bead of caulk will fail within a few years. Deeply embedded caulk as I described will maintain its seal for the life the trim.

Moving along, remember how I said successive layers of flashing should always lap over one another as you move up the building. This holds for all building materials. If we look at the tops of the window set, there are two serious mistakes. First, on the horizontal sections of the window tops, they did not install metal Z-flashing to keep the water out where the siding meets the top trim board. Water cascading down the face of the building reaches the top trim board and some of it can easily seep through this intersection and get behind the siding.

Normally, Z-shaped metal flashing is tucked behind the siding, laps over the top of the trim board, and turns down over the trim boards face – left picture. Notice how the gap above the Z-flashing is not caulked to allow water a way out. Z-flashing keeps water out of intersections between siding and trim boards along with various other intersections. In this case, if there wasn’t a trim board, the window flange itself would serve the purpose of Z-flashing. However, the trim board is much wider than the window flange.

Z Flashing Window Trim No Flashing Arch Window Flashing

To make matters even worse, look closely and you’ll see that the upper trim overlaps the siding. You can see that the siding has shrunk over the years leaving the bead of caulk that once kept this intersection dry now sitting a good 1/4″ above the existing line of intersection – middle picture. Lots of water is going to get behind this trim and really tax the underlying flashing. We can only hope they did a better job sealing the window to the building wrap.

Shifting out attention, let’s look at that arched window. This window suffers from the same lack of Z-flashing. Making metal flashing for curved windows used to be a laborious task. Nowadays, you can buy vinyl solutions that work great – right picture. I don’t particularly love vinyl, but if it’s thick enough, it’ll last. Just like with all flashing, the building wrap should be cut and lapped over any Z-flashing.

So enough about this window assembly, let’s talk a bit about vinyl siding and windows. In terms of keeping water out at the tops of the windows, vinyl siding trim works great. Typically, a length of J-channel the width of the window is cut and nailed above the window. This channel serves to catch water cascading down the building face and direct it out to the sides of the window.

Vinyl Window Upper Corner

Assuming the installer knows what he’s doing, the ends of this upper channel were cut long and a portion was bent down over the J-channel nailed to the sides of the window frame. In so doing, water is kept out the intersection between the upper and side J-channels. The water flows downward in the side channels. Everything is good so far.

Unfortunately, it’s the lower corners of vinyl windows that are almost always improperly flashed. Typically, the same sort of detail is used on the lower corners as the upper corners. J-channel is installed underneath the window and the side channel is cut a bit long and bent over the lower channel. This keeps water out right where the channels meet but where does all the water go flowing down the side J-channels?

Vinyl Lower Window Corner Flashing Water

I’ll tell you. A lot of it slips right behind the vinyl siding at the lower corner. There is no flashing to direct this substantial amount of water back out onto the outer face of the siding. Now you may be shaking your head in disbelief, but I’ve install a fair amount of siding. I’ve read manufacturer installation directions. All of them direct the installer to simple cut the siding to fit into the channels with zero flashing. It’s crazy.

Once again, I’m not going to drag you through all the details on how to handle this situation. Other guys have done a nice job describing how to address this weakness. Basically, there are two approaches. One is to slit the siding at the lower corner and run the side J-channel out onto the face of the side. The other is to slip a square of metal flashing under the window flange at the lower corner. This metal sheet is cut just long enough to direct water into the joint where the vinyl siding overlaps.

Vinyl Lower Window Corner Flashing Alternate

Both methods should work well. I’ve used the metal flashing technique. I’d make one addition to the article I’ve linked to. Namely, the weep holes at the siding overlap joint need to be enlarged in the area of the metal flashing. That’s a lot of water and the typical, factory cut, 1/8” holes aren’t going to be able to handle that amount of water.

So that’s the basics. There are a lot of nuances depending on the materials used and trim details. Nonetheless, the important points related to windows and fungi have been made. They are; it takes real attention to detail to keep walls dry around windows and builders often fail to do this work correctly.

Window Infrared

One way to tell how your windows and doors are doing is to rent/borrow an infrared camera the next time it rains hard. Point it at the corners of your windows from inside. You’ll know you’re in trouble if the area around the corners looks blue/darker indicating they’re colder. They’re colder because they’re wet and the evaporating moisture cools the area. The window in the picture is fine.

Installing and Flashing Windows Correctly
Installing Flanged Windows: Two Strategies Compared
Rethinking Window Flashing
Install and Flash an Arch Top Window with Field Applied Flanges
Vinyl Window Flashing How-To Tutorial
Vinyl Siding Done Right
Flashing A Flanged Window (login)

Door Flashing

Covered Entryway

When it comes to flashing, doors are a lot like windows with a couple exceptions. You can read all about door flashing details in one of the articles below. In general, you want to flash the top and sides of the door trim just like you would a window. Namely, seal the door flange using heavy tape and overlap it with the building wrap.

The only trouble is that, unlike windows, most doors don’t have flanges to help cover over the rough framing opening. I know; it’s stupid. Instead, most doors simply have “brick molding” nailed to the jambs (sides and top) of the door. You know, the brick molding is the decorative trim board that runs along the sides and top of the door on the outside. Most installers simply lay a bead of caulk along the backside of the brick molding before pressing the door into place.

This approach relies on caulk alone. You know from the window discussion that caulk alone is not a good solution. Furthermore, larger gaps are often not sealed with a single bead of caulk. Just like with windows, a much better approach is to use heavy butyl rubber tape to create your own door flanges as described in the articles. These flanges made on site are then sealed and lapped in with the building wrap just like a window. It’s a good solution.

Threshold Jamb Joint

The other difference between doors and windows when it comes to flashing is at their bottoms. Doors have thresholds that get a lot of foot traffic. It is very common for doors to leak at their thresholds. This is often a hidden, insidious leak. It’s only months or years later when the house is full of mold that owners discover that water has been seeping in under the threshold with each rain and feeding mold growth in the sub-flooring.

So here’s why threshold leaks are a very frequent problem. Commonly, builders simply lay down a couple beads of caulk on top of the floor where the threshold is to rest before dropping the door into place. As you’ll soon see, this is so wrong for many reasons.


First, just look at the bottom of a threshold. Thresholds are typically made of aluminum that has many structural channels underneath. In addition, a portion of the aluminum threshold is often in-filled with a wood board for extra support. In other words, when the door is dropped into place, much of the caulk the builder laid down will remain untouched by the threshold in the areas where there are channels. A good portion of the underside of the threshold will not be sealed by the caulk. The bottom of the threshold is not flat wherein you might expect the caulk to squish out and seal the entire underside.

So what happens to the water that seeps in under the threshold when the wimpy bead of caulk fails at the outer edge of the threshold? I’ll tell you. It seeps underneath and drenches the sub-flooring. It’s bad because you won’t know its happening. The finish floor (carpet, wood, vinyl, etc.) often hides the leak below. Some day later on, you’ll look up in the basement and notice blackened sub-flooring in the area of the front door. Ugh.

Door Pan Copper

The solution is to use a door pan. When my grandfather built, they bent up copper sheet metal and soldered it together. Today, you can get PVC door pans that you glue together. Although made of different materials, the idea is the same. Before setting the door, a pan with a lip on three sides is set in place. This pan directs any water that does manage to get under the door back out onto the face of the building. It’s a simple and effective solution.

Door Pan JamSill

Unfortunately, very few builders use door pans. It’s crazy. By the way, some builders are getting smarter and laying down heavy building tape over the sub-floor in the area of the door before setting exterior doors. That’s nice but thresholds are made of metal that I suspect will cut through this protective layer of tape with foot traffic. I’d much rather use a metal or heavy PVC door pan.

Before we wrap up this discussion on doors and mold, I’d like to make two additional points. One relates to the materials used on the door brick molding and door side jambs. The other relates to using protective storm doors and entryway roofs.

Jamb FrameSaver

Although a door pan will keep the flooring dry, what about the sides of the door and the brick molding down at the bottom by the threshold? Often, these pieces are wood. If these pieces aren’t sealed perfectly, the end-grain of this wood wicks water up into the brick molding and side jamb pieces. It isn’t long before the paint starts to peel. A while later, serious cracks and rot develop.

It’s hard to seal the bottom ends of these pieces. Door manufactures are wising up and making the bottom ends of these parts out of composite material that is seamlessly spliced in with the wood. This composite material is water impervious and is a nice solution. Make sure to look for this feature when purchasing new doors.

Threshold Jamb Caulk Outside

The last point is to install a protective roof above exterior doors whenever possible. At a minimum, use a storm door. Not only will a storm door help reduce energy costs but it’ll keep water away from the intersection of the door side jamb where it meets the threshold. This is an inherently difficult joint to keep sealed. You have to rely on caulk. I haven’t ever seen any better solution to this joint.

If you’re using a door pan, this isn’t a serious of a problem but you want to try to keep the water out as much as possible. A roof or storm door serves this purpose. Make sure to yearly check caulking at the intersection of the door side jambs and the threshold, as well as, along the outer edge of the threshold and the building.

Storm Door

Just like windows, current building practices fall way short of keeping homes dry. We all suffer as a result – especially those with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). The old timers knew how to keep buildings dry. Greed has replaced sound water management practices of yesteryears with cheap and leaky substitutes. Now that you know what constitutes good practice, you can go back and address any deficiencies in your own residence.

Flashing an Entry Door (login)

Slider Window Cleaning

Slider Window

For the remainder of this article, I’m going to cover slider window cleaning. I’m not talking about mixing up some ammonia with a touch of dish soap in a bucket of water and cleaning the glass. Instead, I’m talking about the hidden nooks and crannies in modern slider windows (move side-to-side) that hide mold. You may be thinking this is insubstantial but I can tell you that I took a big mold hit cleaning out these hidden places last year. I now pay someone else to do this work as part of a yearly maintenance schedule.

Unlike double hung and casement windows, most modern slider windows have tracks or channels below the window that are covered over by removable plastic trim pieces. These channels collect the rainwater that sheets down the face of the window and direct it out onto the face of the siding below. If you think about it, there has to be some way for the bottom groves of slider windows to empty themselves of water.

Slider Tracks Window Track Dirt Window Plastic

On many slider windows, the groves at the bottom of the window frame are covered with plastic trim that is press fitted in place. This trim provides a clean surface for the window rollers to move across. Dirt that washes off the window is directed into holes at the ends of these trim pieces and falls into the covered over channel below. Weep holes in these covered channels direct the water out onto the face of the building.

It’s a reasonably good system. You don’t want the window rollers mucking through a bunch of dirt. However, I can assure you that in a year’s time, most slider windows are going to start to get substantial mold growth in these covered over tracks/channels. I was surprised to see what was growing in my tracks. Remember, all it takes is water and a little organic matter for some form of mold to start growing.

Unwittingly, I proceeded to clean these dirty window tracks without protection. I foolishly just thought this was a bunch of inert dirt that needed to get cleaned out. Using a hook I bent out of a piece of aluminum, I carefully removed the two covers over the lower channels along with an additional two trim covers in side channels that hold the screen. My wife flushed out the tracks while I scrubbed the plastic covers and screens clean. By the evening, I knew I’d taken a serious mold hit that took days to recover from. What happened?

Slider Track Tool Slider Track Tool In Use Screen Cleaning

Obviously, this was more than just a little benign dirt. I’m not sure if it was the plastic trim pieces, the screens, or both, but there was a substantial amount of mold. I suspect it was mostly from the window tracks but we do live in woods. I suppose it is possible for some mold growth to get a foothold on the screens. I know when I lightly scrubbed the screens with a soft brush dipped in a bucket with QUAT that I could definitely see places I’d missed after the screens dried. Was this just stuck on “dirt” or was there mold too?

In the end it doesn’t matter. The main point is that windows with these sorts of hidden places need to be cleaned regularly. Granted there isn’t that much air movement through these tracks even when the windows are open. That’s good. Nonetheless, for someone with CIRS, it’s just a little too close for comfort to have mold growing underneath my windows. No thanks. I now remove the windows and install a sheet of plastic before having the window tracks cleaned out from outside.

Window Bug Screen

I’ll finish by mentioning that a good portion of the “dirt” that collects in the tracks is comprised of dead bug bodies. The bugs love to climb in through the weep holes looking for a place to get out of the weather – especially as winter draws in. Many of them never make it back out. To remedy this situation, I cut small sections of hardware screen spray painted to match the windows and fitted them into the weep holes at the bottom of the window. The rain can still get out but the opening is now too small for all but the tiniest of critters. It helps.

18 thoughts on “How to Find and Prevent Mold: Windows and Doors

  1. I’m having severe reactions from mycotoxins I have tried the Amphotericin B and it did nothing I’ve tried in iterconazole it did nothing I’ve moved over 20 times and I swear I can feel the individual spores splattering in my eyeballs.At this point I’m beyond should I continue to rinse my nose out with that Amphotericin B. Wash I do not have a doctor that will prescribe the Nystatin and nasal spray. Any advice on how to get that I live in New York City? and if not what exactly should I do I’m having a level 2000 zillion CRIS response it feels like clear plastic or talcum powder all over my body my arms are numb my lips go numb it’s definitely in my many people tell me not to take supplements because they were just in them example Jane Lims book.Yes I did the diet and all that baloney for 2 years I lost 40 pounds it didn’t work.I would keep reading your bio toxin Journey however I am so EMF sensitive I can’t get through it.I’ve spent so much money on doctors I saw dr. Adrienne Sprouse and dr. johanning it was the biggest waste of money in the world I also went to that place that’s under investigation in Atlanta another big waste of money I swear to God I need paper bags for clothes cuz I can’t wear any of my clothes anymore it’s a nightmare please help.. Desperate in the Big Apple

    • Dylan,

      1. What CIRS testing have you had done and what were the results? (HLA-DR, MMP9, VEGF, TGFB1, etc.)

      2. What are you currently taking? (binders, supplements, etc.)

      3. Folks with CIRS that are in dire straits are often put on very low dose VIP temporarily to prop them up. Is this possible; can you get a script from a doctor?

      4. The Nasal Anti-Fungal has a link to buy Nystatin directly in the CoinTent section.

      • johanning gave me the sick building panel IVIG test I have that came up really high for everything I had the mycotoxin test done that came up high for everything too basically I got sick in two hurricanes I would love to send you my story but its 11 pages. none of the doctors that I saw believe in Shoemaker’s now I probably haven’t had that testing and basically I don’t want to spend a lot of money on testing. I’d rather spend it on infrared sauna it’s about the only thing that helps but it’s really expensive in New York I know you can buy your own.But I can’t not where I live.I didn’t know you could buy the Nystatin without a prescription I will try that.I’m going to start field control therapy I know two people that were extremely ill living in a tent and one was living in a car they both got better.if that doesn’t work I’m going to the Mayo Clinic.

        • Dylan,

          You’re right, we’d really have to dig into a lot of details and I just don’t have the time. Here are a few ideas that came up as I read what you wrote.

          1. Ampho B is strong stuff. It’s systemic. It made my symptoms worst most likely from upsetting my delicate gut balance.

          2. If you don’t want to do testing, then it’s really hard to say if it’s CIRS. At least a couple markers like C4a and MSH might be helpful to get a rough idea of where you’re at and to monitor progress. See my comments to Diana about Dr. McMahon’s preliminary CIRS testing protocol.

          3. I don’t think stopping all supplements makes sense. I’m pretty sensitive and I just don’t think mold in supplements is a huge issue. At a minimum, taking binders to clear toxins when there is a toxin overload just makes good sense to me.

          4. A good diet will always be helpful. If you’re eating sugar, grains, and dairy, this is almost assuredly not helping. Unlike supplements, mold in foods is a real issue and that’s what Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Diet or Doug Kaufmann’s Phase One Diet help with.

          5. Besides taking binders and living in a clean place, I would very strongly recommend getting a MARCoNS swab. It’s cheap. I talk about it on the MARCoNS page. You can do it yourself but will need a Health Care Provider who is willing relay the results to you. I’m currently testing a new method that looks very promising, is inexpensive, and doesn’t require a script.

          6. There are oodles of therapies out there. I tried a ton of them including a form of field control therapy – Klinghardt style. Learning what foods to avoid, living in a clean place, taking binders, clearing nasal infections, bringing down inflammation with curcumin, and supplements like vitamin C and D along with VIP have been most helpful for me in treating CIRS.

          7. FIR sauna has been helpful for many including myself. You can buy a little, portable FIR sauna on Amazon for around $400. I started with one of these. I’d say it worked about as well as the walk-in model we have now.

  2. Thank you for this very helpful article! I’m a mold sensitive patient who is mostly recovered on the Shoemaker protocol, and I am looking at building a new house and consulting with Greg Weatherman in order to do so in a way that will hopefully yield a home safe enough for me. I will definitely be discussing flashing protocol with the builder along with your suggestion of using a pvc pan under the door. Do you have any articles that give more tips for those undertaking new construction? I’ve seen your article on mold testing with its caution about front loading washers, crawlspaces, and basement walls. I’m looking to build a house on a slab at the top of a hill which I’m hoping will help avoid some of the new basement pitfalls, but I would be very interested in any other articles with insights on how to avoid new construction mistakes. Thank you for the education!

    • Melissa,
      Slabs are less problematic but make sure to follow the details I discuss in Mold & Foundations. Over time, I hope to cover all of the various aspects to quality home construction and mold prevention. Here are a few suggestions.

      1. Big hat and tall boots – big overhang to protect the walls with the siding 6-8″ above grade.

      2. Depending on where you live, consider foregoing the use of a vapor barrier – see Breathable Walls.

      3. Use a rain-screen under the siding.

      4. Hit “home-runs” with all your PEX water supply lines – no hidden joints in walls.

      5. Centralize plumbing in one area that can be inspected.

      6. Consider using a through-wall Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner & Heat Pump (PTAC) unit like they use in hotels – no ductwork and easy to inspect and clean.

      7. Use water-ice barrier underlayment on the entire roof under the roofing material of your choice.

      8. Use schedule 40 (white) PVC waste lines – not schedule 20 (black).

      9. Study about .proper wall construction depending on your climate.
      Builder’s Guide
      Building Science Corporation (BSC)
      Building America Climate-Specific Guidance

      10. Talk to as many people as you can – Mold Inspector like Gregg, builders, Building Biology Practitioner like Andrea Fabry, etc.

      Also check out this list I made a while back.

  3. Hi Greg,

    I was just diagnosed with biotoxin/mycotoxin illness last week after my doctor ran the lab tests recommended by Dr. Shoemaker. She also recommended your site, which I like because your advice is very practical (and you are an excellent writer). I wondered why I keep getting sick after sitting outside on my wooden deck – and your article describing the mold growing under your deck clued me into the reason. I also find your advice to have someone else clean the window tracks spot on, after finding myself sick for 24 hours after cleaning my shower. I appreciate good writing, having been a writer myself for 30 years. For the record, my TGF-b1 is 18,160 (!) and my Complement C4a is 935.4. I know these numbers are bad; I just don’t know if it is common to have numbers this high. I am going to read everything on your site and make changes in my own house where I can! Thank you!

    • Sandra,
      Thanks for the kind words.

      Your TGFB1 is high but no where near the high values of others. Above 10,000 and you can expect “re-modeling” of tissue as discussed in TGFB1 – Mold – Turmeric. What’s a bit unusual is that your TGFB1 is high and yet C4a of 935 is within the normal range of 0-2830 ng/mL. MARCoNS can suppress TGFB1 and C4a so I suspect you’ll come back positive for MARCoNS.

      • Thanks, Greg. I will get the MARCoNS test. The good news is that my doctor wrote a note to my employer requesting that I start working at home immediately due to my exposure to mold and chemicals at work. The janitor uses moldy cloths and moldy mops to “clean” the restrooms and lobby. I get flu-like symptoms that last for 24 hours if I am exposed to the fumes for just 5 minutes.

        • Sandra,

          Chemical sensitivity is common with CIRS. With treatment, it generally diminishes.

          That’s so awesome your job allows to work from home 🙂 Make sure to mold test your home. A TGFB1 of 18,000 is fairly high so you’ll want to do everything possible to limit the toxins you’re being exposed to.

  4. Hi I just moved into a clean beautiful Ohana (guest house) my landlord built. It’s all concrete floors. I love the look and feel until my place tested 22 on HERTSMI, aspergillosis penicillium mostly. I’m in Maui. We don’t see or smell mold anywhere. I’m on dry side of Maui 80 degrees usually but still humid at times. After reading your article on concrete floors it must be the floors. Will mold inspectors know to check the concrete floors? Is it fixable? I’m sure he didn’t use plastic. Should I just get out ? Thank You Tremendously!

    • Rebecca,

      If you have CIRS, I’d get out as soon as possible. If you don’t have CIRS, I’d still just find a different place. If you absolutely love the place and have the money, you might consider doing side-by-side ERMI’s as I discuss in Improved DNA Testing. I don’t think the results will be any different but there is a chance. ERMI/HERTSMI aren’t flawless.

      Trying to fix the place in most cases is a difficult proposition. First, you have to find all of the mold source(s). Then you have to contain those spaces and get proper remediation done. Finally, you have to air-wash or fog the home to remove all of the microscope inflammatory particles. Each of these steps takes real expertise. Remediation is not for the “faint of heart”.

      Take it from a professional builder, most do-it-yourself homes I’ve seen are poorly built. Typically, its a combination of building on the cheap and a lack of knowledge. If your landlord doesn’t build homes for a living, there are a lot of places besides the concrete slab where water leaks could be creating mold issues.

      I know this isn’t good news. And yet, you’re way ahead of others that are still trying to wrap their heads around the fact that indoor mold damages health. And besides, you are in Hawaii so that’s got to count for something 😉

      PS. Please realize if you’ve moved your belongings into this guest house, they are now very likely cross-contaminated.

      • As far as I can figure I have CIRS or multi system susceptibility. 15-6-51. There’s no mold expert in Hawaii. But a functional medicine Doc knows Shoemakers protocol.

        Question: Hawaii is humid. Maybe not like Florida but it’s often humid. 55-66%. Do you think homes in Hawaii are going to be problematic on the whole due to the moisture in the air. Because I’m sleeping in a tent in my back yard, I can’t help but wonder if Hawaii is just going to be problematic. Any thoughts?

        And THANK YOU for your amazing and through website. I will definitely be supporting you to continue the work your doing…so much appreciated!

        • Rebecca,

          See Deciphering HLA DR Labs. The genotype 15-6-51 is Chronic Lyme susceptible – not mold. Perhaps your other haplotype is mold susceptible?

          Regarding humidity, mold and health guru Dave Asprey lives in Victoria, British Columbia. According to WeatherSpark, the average low-high humidity in Victoria ranges from 80-95% and 60-95% depending on the time of the year. I live in Wisconsin in a woods and I’m recovering my health. So it is possible to live in a humid climate but the challenges are greater.

          For instance, clearly the more rain an area gets, the greater the chances for water intrusion. Also, without dehumidifiers or air-conditioning, homes in higher humidity climates will become excessively damp indoors. We know that around 65% relative humidity, molds like Wallembia Sebi start to grow. Also, my personal experience is that even though outdoor molds aren’t suppose to be a problem, there is always some degree of them that are. The wetter it is, the greater the challenges.

          Does this mean that if a person living in a damp climate leaves their windows open for the day that this will cause a mold problem? I don’t think so. It generally takes time for these lower humidity loving molds to get a foothold. Still, I’m watchful of the humidity indoors and turn on a whole-house dehumidifier when the indoor levels go above 45%.

          I’m sort of rambling here. No matter where you go there will be challenges. A drier climate is definitely less problematic but there’s mold everywhere. If a person has CIRS and can afford to move to a dry climate, I think it merits strong consideration. I personally have checked out various locations in the dry west but haven’t found a place that works – too expensive, difficult to find good construction, etc. The folks on Lisa Petrison’s Mold Avoiders Forum, or one of the many other groups she lists on her Paradigm Change Community pages, may be worth talking with too.

  5. Greg,

    I’m living in a home built in the 30s in Southern California. It has pretty good construction with lots of redwood, lathe and plaster… but it has a (dry) dirt crawlspace. The original ermi I ran on the whole house was -.2 with zero stachy. I’ve had some other more elevated hertsmi tests after some construction work was done in the attic – leaky vacuums then replace insulation, there were rat issues. My last hertsmi of my room was an 8. But stachy count was a 3 (just under the limit of 5 to count in the scoring).

    Mold inspectors recently deemed the house safe with no major issues. They had just a few minor suggestions.

    I hired a CIRS-aware inspector more recently who suggested a high quality crawlspace liner but since they are so pricey another option could be erv fan(s) to create negative pressure. Curious what you think. Money is tight.

    Also it was suggested to replace all flex ducting for the AC (installed ’97) and have the evaporator coil cleaned (preferably steamed) outdoors. I wonder what you think about cleaning a coil in place, vs full removal, and different cleaning methods.

    Also, he thinks the small amount of stachy showing up in the test is from a spot near my bathroom where the boards outside have a small issue.


    • Chris,

      Going from an ERMI of -0.2 to a HERTSMI of 8 is an issue that needs to be investigated. I think you were smart in hiring a CIRS-aware inspector.

      Not long ago, I talked with an acquaintance about his wife who was diagnosed with MS. It turns out their house had rats in the attic. Not knowing any better, he opened up the ceiling and removed all the material through the house! From Dr. Shoemaker’s work, MS is a common CIRS misdiagnosis. Also, in a recent Dave Asprey video, the comment was made the rats can create really moldy conditions. The bottom line is that the attic was most likely very moldy.

      The fact that your mold scores got worst after poorly sealed vacuums were used seems like this is the most likely cause of the spike up in mold counts. The fact that stachy was zero and then jumped up seems to suggest that this is the likely source. In other words, I’m not convinced that the siding issue is the culprit. However, it doesn’t take much to peel off some siding and look. I would definitely do this.

      Regarding your ductwork, I’m sure you’ve read DuctWork – Mold – Health. Cleaning hard-piped metal ductwork is a challenge. Flexible ductwork is even worse. The question is whether, after cleaning, the remaining dust in the ductwork will continue to slough off biotoxins.

      We know that if there is a reservoir like a couch that this is the case. If clumps of dust are left behind in flexible ductwork, then I could see this as also being the case. I don’t have experience with cleaning flexible ductwork but the risk of damaging the fragile ducting along with the continuous ridges and valleys to hold dust makes me think that replacing the flexible ductwork makes sense.

      Given that there is a crawlspace, perhaps it won’t be too expensive to replace the flexible ducting? I’m assuming a lot of the ducting is in the crawlspace. While they’re at it, have them properly seal all the HVAC ductwork joints. By the way, you could consider having an inspector pull a couple of spore traps of air coming right out of register and compare this with another taken in the room. Alternatively, you could have a couple of swabs done inside the ductwork to see what spores are there. I’m not sure you’ll learn much from this but if it’s not too expensive it may be worth considering as a way of helping make a decision. When it comes down to it, the ductwork sounds like it’s never been cleaned in a really old home that has had mold issues. Do it right the first time around.

      Regarding the evaporator core, removal means cutting it out. This is a process as ductwork needs to be cut open, copper lines need to be cut, the refrigerant has to be removed and then all of it has to go back together. Again, my experience with this is limited. I would talk with a few HVAC guys. If they thought they can get the aluminum fins shiny bright clean everywhere, then I’d consider leaving it in place.

      Of course, it also depends on whether you think you can contain the area around the coil if it’s left in place. I would also want to personally look at the core to convince myself that all sides could be reached with spray and cleaned well if left in place. Make sure you can tolerate the cleaning agents that are used. So there are multiple factors. Cutting out the core is the safest and will yield the best job but will be more expensive.

      • Seems like portable AC units or window units would be better. Had AC guys out to inspect today and it will be a lot of work, and dangerous for me to be around.

        Opinions on portable/window units? I need to learn more.

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