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sufi1313 10-01-2011 07:24 AM

underground cistern causing health problems from mold
What is least expensive way to deal with underground cistern in 1870's house that causes mold/health problems in house?

Clutchcargo 10-01-2011 07:38 AM

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Typically, I'm a "you can do it" type of guy regardless of your skill level. In this case, however, I think I'd get a pro to look at the situation. Mold is one thing that scares the hell out of me.

bob22 10-01-2011 08:00 AM

Is the cistern in the house?

oldhouseguy 10-01-2011 08:39 AM

What is it made of?

Is it covered?

Is it in the basement?

Can you see mold or are you assuming? I have a cistern that I actually use for watering plants, two of my drain spouts come through the brick into the house and drain into it. I can shut them off when it gets full. I estimate it to be about 4500 gallon capacity, so I have never had it full.

I usually drain the cistern with a pump every few years and let it dry out completely. Then when it rains I put about a half bottle of bleach into it.

Then I let it sit, then I drain it again.

I have no mold. Mine is covered. Algae is usually more of an issue than mold for some reason. If you get any light in there, you will get algae.

I have no idea if what I am doing is "by the book", but I don't have mold. The water in there appears perfectly clear.

sufi1313 11-05-2012 08:48 PM

So sorry I never responded last year. A friend was helping us and then weather got colder and it was less of an issue. But, here we are again this year. Feeling quite sick- lungs are burning. Cistern is made of stone- probably from 1870 when house was built. It was originally behind house. But in later years, an extension was put on house and kitchen was built right on top of cistern. So, it is in our crawl space and you can't really see in it since the top is covered by our kitchen floor. It has 2 pipes about 2 or 3 inches in diameter that extend from cistern on either side. They are above ground, so possibly placed for ventllation. There are underground springs in our town and I think our house may be on top of one because when our cellar floods, the water is clear.

Seems like fall is the main time we notice mold problem because we can smell it and all 3 of us develop respiratory problems.

gregzoll 11-05-2012 08:52 PM

The mold problem is most likely in the walls, bath & laundry area, along with probably under the kitchen sink. Only way to tell is to bring in the experts. Doubt that it is from the cistern.

Now bad thing is, if the house is making you that sick, staying there is only endangering your health even more. My suggestion is again to bring in the experts, and get out of the place, until the problem can be solved.

hand drive 11-05-2012 09:00 PM

A humidity tester and dehumidifier under the house with a drain outlet could help quite a bit with the moisture and even a fan for circulation. a sump pump will be needed to deal with direct water , I've seen light blue colored crawfish under a house from a spring located under the house. it could be a leaky pipe under the house too...

joecaption 11-05-2012 09:04 PM

I agree I highly doubt that the problum.
There's a ton of stuff you can do to help stop the water from ever getting in there in the first place.
Working gutters with down spouts leading away from the house.
A french drain.
Sump pump and drain tiles in the basement.
Making sure there's no mulch piled up again the foundation.
No flower beds forming ponds for water to settle.
Grade running away from the house.

By now I'd bet your basement floor joist, subfloor and walls have mold all over them.
Best way to prevent mold is get rid of the moisture.
Running a dehumidifyer 24/7 into a sump pit.
Having the whole area treated with a mildicide.
Spraying the exposed wood with Timbor or Boracare.

sufi1313 11-06-2012 06:32 AM

We need to bring in an expert, as we are not handy at all. Just wanted to think about problem so we don't waste our money. Would you start with a mold expert? I was thinking they would remove mold, but not necessarily figure out the cause of the problem. I get sick starting in September and get better in winter, as I think freezing temperatures kill mold.

Last year We did a lot of things suggested- remove possible outside sources that could be contributing to problem that were mentioned.

Thanks so much for the responses so far! Much appreciated.

sufi1313 11-06-2012 06:38 AM

By the way, we can smell the mold when we are in our first floor, but there is no smell in our basement where our sump pump is. I especially smell it when I open pantry door in our kitchen, so maybe it is in the walls and the closet door traps the odor. I guess a mold expert is going to be able to detect where it is more easily or only if they tear things apart to actually see in walls, etc?

joecaption 11-06-2012 08:51 AM

That sounds more like a leak someplace.
Could be the roof, the seal has failed where the vent stack goes though the roof to vent sewer gas, a water line leaking, a window leak.

sufi1313 11-06-2012 08:11 PM

If its a leak, what kind of expert would I call in to determine where leak is and what can be done? Thanks!

gregzoll 11-06-2012 09:14 PM

Check with your Home Owner's Insurance to see if they will cover Serv-Pro to come in and assess.

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