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New home, big problems

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My family and I recently moved into a new house. We are a family of four: me, my husband, and my two kids, Zack and Luna. Zack got sick about six weeks after we moved in.

Trouble is, we didn’t figure it was the house. The building was just five years old, everything we could see was spotless, and only Zack got sick. Everyone else was breathing fine. Zack started waking up with a stuffy nose from time to time. Then he started coughing.

Because we didn’t consider the house a potential problem, we figured it was just a flu and got Zack some cough medicine.

I’m never doing that again, by the way. Next time one of my kids has a symptom, I'm getting them to a doctor right away.

Brown and White Bear Plush Toy

What happened.

Here’s a lesson on why you don’t self-medicate. The cough medicine fixed his cough, and the runny nose didn’t bother him much, so things went fine for a bit. But we hadn’t identified the cause of the problem, and things were getting worse beneath the surface.

A week later, we were having breakfast together, and Zack started wheezing. Just like that, out of the blue. He could barely breathe. He was having an asthma attack. Which is something he had never experienced in his life, so he panicked.

I was panicking too, to be honest. Even as my husband and I tried to be the adults and calm him down, my heart was beating very hard. Watching your child struggle to keep breathing is horrifying. The whole thing only lasted about two minutes. We were at the hospital with Zack and his sister twenty minutes later.

“Probably allergies,” the doctor said. “Check for mold.” He said. Mold? We had checked. Of course we had. We inspected the whole house before moving in. No mold, no lead paint, the pipes weren’t lead either. We explained all that.

“You checked the attic?” Yes! We had.

“You checked the basement?” The house didn’t have a basement!

“Then it’s probably the crawlspace,” the doctor said.

Except our house didn’t have a crawlspace either. Or did it?

The hidden crawlspace.

Turns out we did have a crawlspace; it was just hard to find. It could not be accessed from the outside of the house. The only way in was by removing a non-descript piece of the floor, located on the corner of the laundry room.

Usually, a crawlspace is something a real estate agent mentions. Except we were just renting that house, and we were renting it from the friend of a friend. We never even got a tour from the owner, and he forgot to mention on the phone that the crawlspace existed. He also did not know that the space beneath his home had become a mold-infested nightmare.

We found the crawlspace access after doing a second inspection of the house. The moment we opened the crawlspace, the smell told us we had found the cause of our troubles. The air smelled damp and decrepit; it was like opening the door of a swamp.

I did some research after that. I found some good articles on crawlspace maintenance. After that, we phoned a local expert and said it was an emergency, and we kept the kids out of the house until the repairs were done. Now our crawlspace is more habitable, and Zack got much better since. Honestly, I’m just glad we found the cause before things got worse.

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