I need to purify the air for someone else
December 14, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I've got a sick basement, I need to fix it.

I have a mid 20's couple living in my basement. The female half of the duo says she's been sick since she moved in. I don't really know what to do about this.

I do here her coughing and stuff a lot. Its a brocnchitus kind of sick.

She smokes, as do we, so the first consideration is to smoke outside.

I guess we could also clean out the air ducts, but I don't really know what that entails or if it works.

Do you have any other suggestions that I, as the landlord that lives upstairs, could do to help?

(Considerations: between the lot of us we have four dogs and two cats, it could be allergies, also when we first moved in a couple of years ago we had leaky roof that was subsequently replaced and we haven't had issues yet)
posted by stormygrey to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you think the issue's mold, as your tags say, set up a dehumidifier. They're inexpensive and work pretty well.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:50 AM on December 14, 2007

You can get home test kits for mold. They give you a petri dish, you set it out for a few days, disgusting and frightening things grow on it, and then you mail it in. A few days later you hear back whether your air is sick or not.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2007

Whoops, home test kits for mold.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2007

make sure to keep your furnace/ac filters clean and new

stop smoking
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:45 AM on December 14, 2007

Wait a minute - not so fast there. From my reading, these are the 2 most important lines in your entire post:
I do here her coughing and stuff a lot.
She smokes

So, she participates in an activity with an extremely high risk (near 100%) of causing respiratory complications, but your basement is the problem? There are other, more plausible explanations - don't jump to the conclusion that you have a moldy basement.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2007

Is this a legal apartment you've got there? Meets code for rental as an apartment, or at least for use as bedroom? If not, never mind the sick basement and get legal. If it is not up to snuff, and your house burns down with them trapped down there, or something, you've got a serious liability if not criminal issues to deal with.

Assuming it's all legal, it shouldn't be your problem. Did you have a previous tenant there? Did they get sick? If they didn't, why conclude that it's the building?
posted by beagle at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2007

Response by poster: Beagle, mostly I am nice and its not going to hurt anything to just clean out my ducts or something. Its all completely legal and I am zoned correctly and all that.

We have tenants before, but the two previous occupants were both construction worker duded who would never think that the basement made them sniffly.
posted by stormygrey at 11:11 AM on December 14, 2007

She needs to go to the doctor. Do whatever basic maintenance you need to do ( a mold test is probably a good idea), but until there's been some determination that she doesn't have an illness that is making her sick, I don't think she can say its the basement.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2007

Six animals, plus smoking in a basement. While there may be mold down there, you're not going to know if it makes a difference to deal with it.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

If the basement has carpets, you could invest in a HEPA vacuum and share it with them.

Although I have to say that the smoking is probably the cause of her chronic bronchitis, it is very kind of you to make an attempt to ensure your tenants' safety and well-being.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:07 PM on December 14, 2007

Oh, and I forgot to mention that you can pick up a HEPA vacuum at most stores like Best Buy. Just know that they can be a pain to maintain because you have to keep replacing the filters, and get a few extra filters while you're there so you don't have to go back.

I have horrible asthma and allergies, and vacuuming everything all the time really seems to help. (I even vacuum my pillows and mattress with a hand-held).
posted by sondrialiac at 1:11 PM on December 14, 2007

Chronic bronchitis can be caused by many things, including smoking and asthma. Asthma in turn can be aggravated by mold and smoke.

You should get a dehumidifier for the basement. It's cheap, it reduces mold growth, and it shows you care. Also be aware that once there's mold in your walls, nothing you can do besides removal will make the mold go away, because even dead mold produces an asthmatic reaction.

She should stop smoking and see a doctor about asthma or other sources of her chronic bronchitis. You can't make her do this, but you can suggest that "it worked for a friend of yours" or something like that.
posted by zippy at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2007

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