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Old 11-10-2009, 08:14 PM   #1
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


I am not even sure where to start eliminating possibilities, but I am wondering if it is something in the house. Three of the six of us have noticed our eyes burning as if someone is cutting onions. We moved into this house in Feb. `08. Nobody noticed it until now, but that doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't been happening. It is past allergy season, and none of us have allergy problems, anyway. Without focusing on the non-house related possibilities, does anyone have any idea what could be causing it? The house is about 35 years old, and is located in the country. Hardwood floors throughout except linoleum in kit. and bath. Drywall walls and ceilings. Full walkout basement with concrete foundation and poured slab floor. It is very wet down there(water squirts out cracks in the foundation when it rains), although the water exits very quickly, as the floor is pitched well, and the drains flow freely. I have two dehumidifiers running down there constantly, keeping it at about 55% humidity. I dont smell mold/mildew in the basement. The walls and ceiling are insulated with fiberglass batt insulation. The paint was new when we moved in. We dust/clean at least 2x a week. Not a significant amount of dust accumulation noted. It is an all-electric home(no wood stove or gas appliances). There has been no recent work done, other than a retaining wall outside that butts against the foundation. The soil type in the area is slate bedrock with clayey soil. Some of the wells in the area get a sulfur smell in the water, but not ours, so I imagine there are sulfur deposits down there somewhere. I think that covers just about everything that may be a factor that is house related.
I understand that there are many other environmental issues that could be the problem, but I am just trying to eliminate things right now. And since it only happens when we are at the house, it seems to be a good place to start. I don't think it is any of the materials in the house(let me know if you know different), but I don't know about anything that may be seeping in from the basement/soil. Just a shot in the dark.

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Old 11-10-2009, 08:17 PM   #2
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Has this happened after the heat was turned on ?

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Old 11-10-2009, 08:32 PM   #3
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Have you checked the lids of all of your bottles and cans of cleaners/chemicals?

Does it still happen when you open windows and have fresh air coming in the house?
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:23 PM   #4
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


I think the key is in what you have done on the house, or purchased recently. Since, as you say that you moved in to the house in (early) '08 and haven't noticed it before. (No matter what)Don't drink and Drive, Ever!!!
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:32 PM   #5
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Yes, Dave, come to think of it, my first recollection is right about the time the heat was turned on. It is electric heat, though. I'm not picking up on the correlation.

Gma, I have four kids, so anything is possible.lol Although, I haven't noticed a chemical smell. The problem is worse sometimes more than others. If it gets worse consistently, I will try airing the house out, even though it is starting to get pretty chilly out.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:36 PM   #6
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Yeah, sparkplug, the excavation, and earthwork associated with the retaining wall outside is what has turned my focus to an earth-based issue. Problem is, I don't know much about things like radon, or effects that leaching gasses may have.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:42 PM   #7
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


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Yes, Dave, come to think of it, my first recollection is right about the time the heat was turned on. It is electric heat, though. I'm not picking up on the correlation.

Gma, I have four kids, so anything is possible.lol Although, I haven't noticed a chemical smell. The problem is worse sometimes more than others. If it gets worse consistently, I will try airing the house out, even though it is starting to get pretty chilly out.
If, as you say that Scuba Dave's hunch is correct, that the heat is the culprit, then you can rest assured that the eye irritation will go away. The heating system is just burning off accumulated dust. But what I'm puzzled with, is the fact that you must have run the heat last Winter and Spring, too!
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:07 PM   #8
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


1. Septic, check the plumbing vents for above roof. Possible rodent blocking above a fixture, listen at pipe on roof when in use. Septic cleaned lately? Drain-field saturated full of rainwater? Septic not working? Wet ground around?

2. Electric furnace or room electric walls heaters? Burning insulation or wiring?

3. Check everywhere for dead animals- opossums, raccoons, etc. They smell acrid for a day or two, then gradually dissipates.

4. Pull base in basement, random check drywall with moisture meter for possible mold behind it.

5. Pipe from house to septic near recent exterior work?

6. Clean the refrigerator pan, if used?

7. Air pollution from an inversion? Joe neighbor burning trash?

8." And since it only happens when we are at the house, " -------- How do you know if you're not there?
Someone change their perfume, or cologne? Any new toys from Asia? Change of foods gone bad? Old potatoes?
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:39 PM   #9
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Sparkplug, we did get that first-use-of-the-year burnoff, and that was gone in a day. I think I might do a crawl and sniff test to see if maybe something was spilled on an element, and is slowly burning off.

GBR:
1)Vent is above roof. Septic hasn't been cleaned in two years at least, not sure before we moved in. Do you know how often it is supposed to be cleaned? Property is on a hill, so no rain saturated ground.
2)Baseboard heaters. None of the breakers have tripped, and none are hot.
3)There is an addition that is very difficult to access the crawlspace. Maybe a dead animal in there. The dog has been showing interest in sniffing around the bottom edge of the siding lately.(She is a pro mouser.)
4)Unfinished basement
5)Ohhh.....Had a front loader in the yard, doing the excavation for the retaining wall. I estimated where I thought the pipe was, but maybe got to close. I'll run a snake in the cleanout that exits the foundation wall to see if the pipe is collapsed.
6)I'll get the wife on cleaning the refrg. pan.
7)We all burn trash around here, never affected us before.
8)I meant that it doesnt happen anywhere else, so it must be the house that is causing it.

What a wild goose chase! But this is the exact reason I threw it out there. I needed to get some ideas for some more possible sources. I started thinking that the problem was coming from the ground and couldn't come up with anything else. Might as well have blamed it on some sort of voodoo spell, right? Thanks for some ideas.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:44 PM   #10
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Also watch for what the 3 that have the reaction do, that the other 3 don't. Sounds simple, but it worked for me.

None in my family had any alergies, and one year 4 of us had a terrible time with fallen leaves with mold! only happened 2 years in a row, and then never again. So watch for mold from leaves too.

Last, it was only when we handled the leaves, and only after we wiped our face, or brushed our hair or face that we reacted. My husband and oldest son were the only ones that did not have the problem, and they didn't touch any of the leaves, they were at work every time we cleaned up the leaves!

Never did find out what kind of mold it was.

Good Luck!
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:20 AM   #11
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Thanks shiela. Your point is one of the environmental issues that I haven't considered. Although, I am sure that if I opened a new thread on the environmental issues, I would be presented with a whole new set of things I haven't taken into consideration. But I don't think this is the place to do that. There is a large dairy farm next door, we have mushrooms growing everywhere, we have pets, 100gal fish tank, blah blah blah... the list goes on and on, but I don't want to bore people that are trying to research real DIY problems.
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:14 AM   #12
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Try sealing off one room at a time from the rest of the house. I would start with covering the entrance to the basement first for a day or two. See if the symptoms go away.

It's easier said than done and a real pita, but it might be worth a try.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:02 AM   #13
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


Chinese drywall??
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:00 AM   #14
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


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Chinese drywall??
Not in a 35 year old house!
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:46 AM   #15
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My family's eyes are burning and watering


I know this post is getting old, but if the original poster is still around, did you find out why your eyes were burning?
My family has been going through the same thing in our house and we are wondering all the same things as you have mentioned in your post.
I would love to know what happened next!

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