Why do we keep sneezing?
March 7, 2006 12:47 AM   Subscribe

Something in our house is making us sneeze. How can I find out what it is?

My girlfriend and i live in a brand new flat, we moved in about 8 months ago. For the past 4 months or so (say, since the beginning of winter), we've found ourselves sneezing all the time when we're in the house. How can we track down the culprit?

We have no pets, just so you know. I suffer from hayfever, but my GF has no known allergies.

A bit of (possibly relevant) information. Our flat has just two (massive) windows - one in the bedroom, one in the living room. In the bedroom, we have a condensation problem which we're trying to get resolved. When the condensation problem first reared it's ugly head, it took us a while to notice - and when we finally did, we found mould in various places in the bedroom - for example, on our suitcases under the bed. We cleaned it all up, and haven't found any more since, but I have a hunch that may have something to do with it.

I'm in England, for what it's worth. Thanks in advance.
posted by ascullion to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Might sound silly, but have you hoovered your mattress? Turning it over and hoovering - especially the side that was closest to the mould - might be a good idea.
Also, do you have a radiator near to where the mould was? Maybe some dettol on the radiators might be a good idea, as they might be sending out spores around the house when they're switched on.
posted by lemonpillows at 12:58 AM on March 7, 2006

The only true way is to remove one thing at a time from your apartment until you stop sneezing, right?
posted by wsg at 2:18 AM on March 7, 2006

Is it warm enough to go without heating yet? Sounds like you might have mold in the ducts, which would be blowing out whenever the heating turns on. It's some nasty stuff.
posted by borkingchikapa at 5:42 AM on March 7, 2006

If you found mold in some places, you may find it in more that you just have not yet discovered. Also, it can get into the air. Try airing your place out for a day or so to see if that helps.
posted by Loto at 5:43 AM on March 7, 2006

Mold problems can be quite serious and extensive. If a home is a suitable place for mold growth - warm, wet - then generally the visible part of the mold is 1/10th of the total amount. Probably the walls, floors and so on are utterly filled with mold, and the mold spores are causing your problems. Why so wet? Does the roof leak?

You can hire professionals to come in. They'll poke holes in the walls, discover the mold problem, and recommend a zillion euros worth of work to tear down the drywall and put up new. If the humidity problem isn't fixed however, the mold problem will immediately recur. I suggest that you abandon the apartment and leave these problems to the owner to solve (or most likely, ignore).
posted by jellicle at 5:46 AM on March 7, 2006

You may want to try getting a hepa air-filter to see if it helps your sneezing at all.
posted by catfood at 6:53 AM on March 7, 2006

Ditto on the mold. Once it starts growing inside it's very difficult to get rid of, even if it's not visible. Some suggestions:

Fix the problem that's causing the condensation. Cold + wet = mold. Find where the water is dripping, and make sure there is no mold in the wall/plaster/etc.

Remove everything from underneath your bed and leave that space open. Wipe down all surfaces with vinegar or bleach, including the bed frame, mattress, etc. Then blast a space heater with a fan into that space for a weekend.

Keep the space heater in the bedroom and use it. Raising the temp in that room will keep it drier and discourage mold spores.

Good luck!
posted by shifafa at 7:12 AM on March 7, 2006

Mold can get into the walls and vents, you won't be able to see it and only a pro can remove it.
I ended up moving out of an apartment because of the stuff.

Seconded the recomendations for fixing the problem. You may want to go to the landlord and see about getting someone in there to clean out the heating system vents.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:33 AM on March 7, 2006

Probably the mold (or mildew), but do you have carpets, or bare floors? Carpets absorb and retain all kinds of crap, even with regular vacuuming.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2006

It could be one of the cleaning products you're using.
posted by Sharcho at 10:02 AM on March 7, 2006

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