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DIY Mold Inspection and New Construction Part 2 with Michael Rubino

Picture of podcast cover art with Christa Biegler and Michael Rubino: Episode 336 DIY Mold Inspection and New Construction Part 2 with Michael Rubino

This week on The Less Stressed Life Podcast, Michael Rubino has returned for a follow up episode. Michael is an air quality expert, wellness advocate, and founder of HomeCleanse. In this episode, we talk about do-it-yourself mold inspection, important things to watch out for with new construction, common places mold is found in your home, and why your home's air quality matters. As always, Michael leaves us with some educational and eye-opening info!

Click here to go for Michaels other episode: 317 Environmental Mold Remediation


  • 3 things to watch out for with the construction industry
  • How do we find mold in the flooring?
  • What are some mold sample options?
  • New construction materials to watch out for
  • Signs of water damage on the outside of a house
  • Better building material alternatives
  • How to properly waterproof your shower
  • Why does air exchange matter?
  • Are there building codes around ventilation?
  • DIY mold inspection tips
  • Tools to assess for water leaks
  • Household humidity levels


Michael Rubino is championing “the new frontier of holistic health.” He is an air quality expert and wellness advocate who is bridging the gap between our homes and their direct impact on health. He is the founder of HomeCleanse, a company dedicated to addressing the worldwide health epidemic caused by poor indoor air quality. He works closely with the company's advisory team, which includes global well-being trailblazers Deepak Chopra’s The Chopra Foundation and Gwyneth Paltrow, to achieve the company's mission to improve the quality of life for 100 million people each year by 2030. Rubino is also the founder of Change the Air Foundation, a nonprofit committed to empowering the world to achieve better health by establishing safer and healthier indoor environments. In an effort to share his expert knowledge, Rubino is an ongoing contributor to MindBodyGreen. 

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I’ve been recommending Micro Balance Health Products to my clients to help them clear mold from their homes and bodies. If you’d like to try Micro Balance products, you can get 15% off by using code “lessstressed”. Download the free checklist of 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Mold in Your Home!


[00:00:00] Michael Rubino: We can make sure that we're controlling the ability for mold to grow. And that's really the keys. You can't do anything about having a mold free home from the perspective of not having any spores inside the house. 

[00:00:12] Christa Biegler: Stress is the inflammation that robs us of life, energy, and happiness. Our typical solutions for gut health and hormone balance have let a lot of us down. We're over medicated and underserved. At The Less Stressed Life, we're a community of health savvy women exploring solutions outside of our traditional Western medicine toolbox and training to raise the bar and change our stories.

[00:00:39] Christa Biegler: Each week, our hope is that you leave our sessions inspired to learn, grow, and share these stories to raise the bar in your life and home.

[00:00:58] Christa Biegler: All right. Today on The Less Dressed Life, I have back Michael Rubino, who is the founder of Home Cleanse, which is a company dedicated to addressing the worldwide health epidemic caused by poor indoor air quality. So instead of just one thing, he's looking at everything around indoor air quality. So he works closely with the company's advisory team and has served people like Gwyneth Paltrow and their company's mission is to improve the quality of life for a million people each year by 2030.

[00:01:29] Christa Biegler: He's also the founder of change the air foundation, a nonprofit committed to empowering the world to achieve better health by establishing safer and healthier indoor air environments. He's been featured on a variety of platforms from USA Today to Forbes, to Market Watch, to NBC, to Fox. So we're happy to have him back today.

[00:01:51] Christa Biegler: Our last episode, which was episode number 317, Environmental Mold Remediation. In that episode, we talked a lot about filtration. We talked a lot about the top things anyone can do to improve their indoor air quality and to support and address maybe some old things. We talked a lot about HVAC and we talked about a mold situation that I had in my home, which I think was really educational.

[00:02:16] Christa Biegler: I had lots of people reach out and say they learned. A lot through that experience. So he's back today and we're going to get a little deeper. So thanks for coming back, Michael. 

[00:02:24] Michael Rubino: Yeah. Are you sure you want me back? Geez, 

[00:02:27] Christa Biegler: it's soon. It's soon. No, but we're good. So last time we talked, you shared that your life you grew up in construction. It was a family business, I think a little bit. And you started to realize that there was maybe some issues that were popping up with construction. Can we open there a little bit again today? Because today I actually do want to talk a little bit more about construction materials and things that have been popping up with client experiences and different conversations that I thought you'd be the perfect fit for.

[00:02:55] Christa Biegler: So tell me maybe some of those catalysts that you were experiencing when you were in the construction industry that kind of led you down this rabbit hole you're on now. 

[00:03:05] Michael Rubino: Yeah, there are three major problems that I see with the construction industry when it comes to air quality and its relationship to our health.

[00:03:14] Michael Rubino: First being the fact that when we build homes, we typically build them out of lumber, and that lumber typically sits in the soil when it rains, collects all this moisture. Mold and bacteria are abundant in the soil if you didn't know that, and so it easily transfers onto the wood with all that trap moisture that occurs.

[00:03:33] Michael Rubino: And then it gets built. That is a bigger problem than, the house being built and getting rained on because you have all this ability for moisture to be trapped. You have all this mold bacteria that's already in the soil transferring onto the lumber. So that is probably one of the biggest problems that I see.

[00:03:49] Michael Rubino: And this is why people have brand new homes and they don't feel well when they move into them. The second biggest problem is probably going to be the slab itself. Vapor barriers being done improperly, tears. Gaps holes from pipes and electrical protruding through the vapor barrier that aren't properly sealed.

[00:04:08] Michael Rubino: All these things allow water to intrude into the slab and depending on the material you choose to put on top of that slab can create a big problem because. A lot of us love to have this wood floor look and so if we have wood floors on top of a leaking slab, we're going to have a problem. And I'd say the third problem is HVAC, which includes ventilation right so heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, or lack thereof, which can create some pretty big issues.

[00:04:33] Michael Rubino: I'll give you a prime example, a client of mine right now is a. 15 million brand new constructed home in Arizona, right? Arizona, they escaped to the driest place in the world to have a healthy environment. And we just recently found tons of mold there and all the HVAC systems have mold in them.

[00:04:55] Michael Rubino: And it's just a mess, right? And so people often think new construction, I won't have any issues, but here we are. 

[00:05:00] Christa Biegler: Yeah, I find that a lot and I have a particular case that is a very good segue. That came to me and I was talking to the family and there's a new home construction and they remember in this family.

[00:05:13] Christa Biegler: Moisture happening. And so some of this question is just hasn't always been this way, but let's talk about, let's just silo the conversation, for a moment, which is it rains. And one of the family members remembers that there was probably mold on the sub floor before even other things were put on top of it.

[00:05:29] Christa Biegler: And I guess there's two parts. It's like, how do you even figure out that there's mold in the flooring? Because most of the testing options, and we talked a little bit about this last time. And maybe there's room to reopen the conversation here. There's air sample testing, right?

[00:05:44] Christa Biegler: Which is limited because it's looking three feet 

[00:05:46] Michael Rubino: Yeah. 

[00:05:47] Christa Biegler: And then there's dust, which is probably Better probably still has limitations. I'm not sure what else there is in, in building. And I would like to talk about some of the tools that inspectors use, but the concern is that's a pretty tricky, in a wall, you could put a little boroscope.

[00:06:03] Christa Biegler: You could drill a little pin sized hole, put a boroscope in there. You could look behind the wall for something that looks like mold potentially. In the flooring, it feels more challenging to me. I think the first question is, what is your experience with mold in that subfloor and some of those building materials you can't always see?

[00:06:20] Michael Rubino: Yeah, so if I'm suspecting there's an issue with the floor, I'd probably recommend and this is depends on how close the spot is to the, the wall, right? Cause if it's near the wall, we could probably pull a baseboard off. Yeah. And then there'll be a gap or crevice in between where the finished floor stops in the wall, or we could probably do a swab test in between that and see what we see.

[00:06:43] Michael Rubino: Cause at that point you could actually touch the sub floor, right? Cause it's really tricky in this exact scenario, cause there's not going to be buckling on the floor, right? Cause you just built over mold. So there's not water damage there. That's going to show a sign and create any sort of ability to test the floor itself.

[00:06:59] Michael Rubino: You have to get underneath it. If I can't get to it that way, maybe it's in the middle of the room and you just, it's not near a wall. So you can't do the whole baseboard trick. I just told you about, I'm probably going to actually drill a hole in the ceiling below. And I'm going to do an air cavity sample from within that ceiling cavity.

[00:07:19] Michael Rubino: So I can see because. Yeah, you're talking it's probably three quarters of an inch of plywood. Plywood's basically a bunch of layers of wood glued together. And if I take a ceiling cavity sample and there's a problem up above there, I'm going to be able to tell that. Just by taking the air sample in that cavity, right where the subfloor is that would probably be the best way to really see this.

[00:07:40] Michael Rubino: Cause if you use dust testing technology, it's more of a screening tool. So it tells you like, yes, I have a problem, not where it is. So in this particular case, I don't know that it would be the best method to identify this exact scenario. And then what do you do, right? Unfortunately, if you build over mold, you're really going to have to rip that floor up and replace the subfloor in that spot or remediate the subfloor.

[00:08:02] Michael Rubino: Again, the amount of different layers in a subfloor like that, I would probably just say your best to cut out a section of that and replace it and make sure you replace it properly because it is a structural membrane. 

[00:08:15] Christa Biegler: So that would work if you can access it right from the bottom, but this brings up to me when I think about a concrete slab, for example, it makes me think, we talked a little bit about concrete and how concrete can have mold, it's a semi porous, we talked about porous materials last time and how mold loves porous materials, but if someone's putting flooring over a concrete slab, does this mean that it should technically be sealed first, do you think?

[00:08:40] Christa Biegler: I don't feel like that's commonplace. 

[00:08:43] Michael Rubino: Yeah, if you're going to put wood floor on a concrete slab, which I wouldn't do. I didn't do that in my own home. My home has tile on the first floor because my home is built on a slab. But if you want to, because it looks nice and all these things, it's more comfortable than tile.

[00:08:58] Michael Rubino: It's a softer surface, right? There's many reasons why people would want to if I really wanted to, yeah, I would make sure that slab is really well sealed with an epoxy based coating so that no moisture is seeping up into the wood floor. Cause it's really, it's the moisture, right? The trap moisture between the layers of materials.

[00:09:15] Michael Rubino: That then allows an ability for mold and bacteria to start to grow and thrive. And that's not something we want inside of our homes. 

[00:09:22] Christa Biegler: It makes me think about in floor heat. I remember laying the pipes for in floor heat and whether that would alleviate an issue or actually it's just part of it, right?

[00:09:30] Christa Biegler: Cause you have moisture, like we never really know if something is going to crack open there. I'm just running through as I deal with this with clients, I just run through all of these scenarios in my brain, like where could it be sometimes? And that's, I think the most maddening thing for someone is.

[00:09:44] Christa Biegler: Where is it always? 

[00:09:47] Michael Rubino: Yeah, so you mentioned already that my dad's a contractor. I grew up around construction. I grew up with radiant heating. Okay. And because it was the new cool thing that you can do and it was, it's very comfortable. You walk around and your floors are warm.

[00:10:00] Michael Rubino: I get the appeal to it. I don't have radiant heating in my flooring and. Just for that reason. It is something that can go wrong. I don't necessarily think you need to be as paranoid as me. You just should know that they can leak. And if they leak, you got to deal with it properly or you're going to have a mold and bacteria problem.

[00:10:19] Michael Rubino: And so with that being said, My philosophy is take out as many variables as you can because a house has enough variables as it is and go from there. If in floor heating and this radiant heating is important to you and you really need to have it, go for it. Just know that, yeah, things do leak over time and when they do, it's a problem you got to deal with.

[00:10:43] Christa Biegler: So when did you build your house? I want to talk a little bit about selecting building materials. If someone is doing remodeling, building, et cetera. And then I want to work backwards if you're already in a place. 

[00:10:56] Michael Rubino: Yeah I was originally building a house with a builder and unfortunately that didn't go to plan because the house had a ton of mold in it, brand new construction.

[00:11:07] Michael Rubino: So it was a lawsuit and everything. We agreed to go our separate ways. I ended up buying another house. gutting the entire house because it was basically, this is, we're talking like, the height of the pandemic when I'm trying to do all this stuff, housing prices through the roof. Okay. And my family and I are renting a place while we're dealing with this lawsuit, we finally find a place that's within our price range, number one, number two, we knew that when you live with me, you pretty much know whatever house you buy you're stuck doing something. Cause I'm going to find problems. I bought this house. I knew it needed a new roof, new doors and windows. I suspected there were some issues with the stucco.

[00:11:48] Michael Rubino: I ended up basically rebuilding this entire house. Okay. There's. Two of the four exterior walls are the only existing pieces in this house. Pretty much everything else is brand new. And it was a pretty massive renovation undertaking. It took me four months, and I spent a lot of time here with subcontractors and stuff, dealing with the process.

[00:12:08] Michael Rubino: For me, it wasn't a nightmare because, I live for this stuff, but I would say for the average person that bought this house. It could be considered a nightmare. Really. It's all a matter of viewpoint. But I had to do a lot of work to this house. Every window is leaking and you would have had no idea by the way, like there's no water damage visibly on the drywall.

[00:12:30] Michael Rubino: I actually could tell more from the outside than from the inside that there was some trouble spots. As you looked around the outside, you had stucco cracking around pretty much every window. And it was slight. But I can tell that moisture is getting in underneath. So I was like if moisture is getting in and it's cracking the stucco surrounding the windows.

[00:12:50] Michael Rubino: And then obviously it's leaking into this wall, right? So I knew I was going to have to replace windows. I also knew I had to open up walls. I didn't know how bad it was because I don't have an x ray vision or anything. And when I open up the interior wall, I realized two of the four exterior walls of the main envelope were completely rotted.

[00:13:08] Michael Rubino: Like I had to basically replace all of the structural members from floor to ceiling all the way up the house. And. It was all just because over time water was not only getting in through the windows, but as it was separating the stucco and cracking it, more water was able to intrude and more water was, and it just got to this point where between the water, which also invites termites.

[00:13:32] Michael Rubino: Then you have termites coming in and destroying the wood even more. It was actually a miracle that the house was even standing. That's how bad these walls were. So that was probably the first issue. The second issue is the roof was original houses built in the eighties, so I bought it in 2022.

[00:13:50] Michael Rubino: Okay. You're talking 40 years with the same roof, that waterproofing membrane. No way it was still good. And literally as I was closing on the house, The guy sent me a video, oh yeah, there's this roof leak, it was an 800 repair he was going to pay for. And I was like just give me the 800 credit because I'm redoing that entire roof.

[00:14:10] Michael Rubino: There's no way I'm patching a 40 year old roof and hoping for the best here. So I, made these, I crunched numbers when I bought the house and made sure that I was going to be in a decent spot to be able to handle all this stuff. Every bathroom was leaking, every single bathroom had to be ripped out, so all the shower pans were leaking, so every time they took a shower, water's just seeping into the wall, seeping into the floor, so I had to replace not only all the wallboard, but I had to replace the majority of the subflooring in each bathroom.

[00:14:41] Christa Biegler: Would you mind telling us more about that? And you don't have to, we can come back to it later, but I've often thought a lot about showers, and like how they're constructed underneath of their tile, and how you How would they even stand the test of time if they're tile versus like a one piece? 

[00:14:57] Michael Rubino: You need proper waterproofing behind the tile, right?

[00:15:00] Michael Rubino: And the waterproofing didn't really exist prior to 2015. And depending on, the builder and the materials they use, unfortunately some people put drywall in showers and then tile on top of the drywall. Now you think, I could see how that could happen. This could obviously be stupid.

[00:15:20] Michael Rubino: Okay. Because it's green drywall or purple drywall, it's marketed as moisture resistant, not proof resistant. So people use it and they think it's okay to use and there's no building codes that say you can't use it. 

[00:15:36] Christa Biegler: Yeah, it makes sense. I think what do they normally put it on? 

[00:15:40] Michael Rubino: So what do we see?

[00:15:41] Michael Rubino: They should put it on cements, right? Cement board, something that is. Something that has the ability to dry that's not going to provide additional food sourcing, but even if you put cement, you should waterproof it. And so they have all these amazing waterproofing products. Some off gas more than others.

[00:15:57] Michael Rubino: There's that whole concern. But the reality of the situation is every shower should be waterproofed before tile goes on because. The grout itself is semi porous, which means moisture will seep into the grout, which means it's going to get behind the tile, which means it's affecting the wall cavity. Every shower in this entire house was just built, even if it some were renovated later and had cement board, some had drywall, none of them had waterproofing, like not one of them.

[00:16:26] Michael Rubino: We had to rip out all of them. We found mold in every single bathroom, all that had to be remediated. I had a clean slate and I made sure every shower was put back properly, was properly waterproofed with all new tile. Yeah it's crazy to me. I have homes that were just built this year where the showers are leaking, a year in.

[00:16:46] Michael Rubino: Less than a year in and it's like, how is that possible? They didn't waterproof it obviously. Cause if they waterproof that the water wouldn't be coming out of the shower into the next room, et cetera, et cetera. It's just one of these things that it needs to be a standard. It needs to be part of the building codes and it's not.

[00:17:04] Michael Rubino: And it's a shame because people spend a lot of money building bathrooms. The average cost of a bathroom today is like 25, 000. Imagine spending 25, 000 and it leaks and you have to rip it out and spend another 25, 000. It's crazy. 

[00:17:17] Christa Biegler: Yeah. It's very tricky. And this is the issues, even as you walk through your own home, which there's multiple thoughts that come to mind.

[00:17:25] Christa Biegler: I could hear someone listening to this and saying, is there any place that's safe is probably every home just have mold. I think home inspector seminars say that like every home has mold, right? It's just a matter of how severe and how sensitive is the person. 

[00:17:43] Michael Rubino: Yeah. And when you look at the data from HUD and EPA, 2006, they did a study called the American Healthy Home Survey.

[00:17:51] Michael Rubino: That's now become the American Healthy Home Survey 1 because in 2019, they came out with the American Healthy Home Survey 2. And when you read that, if you look, there's columns there, if anyone wants to look this up. And the columns show you the prevalence, like how many times was this specific mold found? Homes, 

[00:18:13] Michael Rubino: all of the prevalences of every single mold type went up from 2006 to 2019, which is only a span of 13 years. Mind you. . And some of these molds like odium is at a hundred, was found at a hundred percent of homes, okay? Some of these molds that have, that are mycotoxin producing molds went up pretty significantly.

[00:18:33] Michael Rubino: Aspergillus is in 97% of homes. Eurodium is in 100 percent of homes. Stachybotrys went up to, 37 percent of homes, I believe. Yeah, there's 36 different mold types. Every single one of those types, I think with the exception of one, increased significantly in prevalence. 

[00:18:52] Michael Rubino: What that's telling us is that as time goes on, mold is being found in more and more homes across North America. Now, I don't know about you, I don't know about you, but I'm freaking concerned. And the reason that I'm so concerned is that, obviously, We are not making the problem better. And if we're not making the problem better over time, that's going to affect our health as a civilization.

[00:19:24] Michael Rubino: Because if you look at the prevalence increasing, do you know what else is increasing? Just side by side with the prevalence of water damage inside of buildings that it allows mold and bacteria to grow chronic illness. Because today we have over 60 percent of the global population deals with at least one chronic condition.

[00:19:44] Michael Rubino: Let that sink in. I think it's something like 79 percent of us adults are on one prescription medication. 79 percent that's crazy. More of us are unhealthy than ever before. And why have we never been sicker than we are today? Why are we getting worse? Not better. If you really think about it, we all have Pelotons in our house.

[00:20:06] Michael Rubino: We're taking really valiant effort at being healthy. We all eat probably cleaner food than we've ever ate before, because we're more knowledgeable today than we ever were. We have better access to food, better access to water, better access to technology. Better access to medicine and healthcare.

[00:20:24] Michael Rubino: How is that possible? My theory is because is the last thing that we're thinking about is the problem that's getting worse and worse. And nobody knows. And these homes are sick. 

[00:20:35] Christa Biegler: Yeah. And I agree with you. But then on the other hand, as I continue to just find it more and more prevalent, more prevalence in my clients, I don't know if we had this conversation before, but I've think back to, has this always been here?

[00:20:50] Christa Biegler: And we've overlooked it in lieu of, in the. I don't know if it was 10 or within the last two decades, Candida stuff was really popular, right? Candida diets, et cetera. And my question is, was it always low grade mold? Because mold is just a fungus and Candida is a fungus. And so they pretty much looks about the same, except mold is, can be a little more aggressive and Toxic and obnoxious and just damage more systems longer.

[00:21:16] Christa Biegler: So there would look like more relapse going on, right? 

[00:21:19] Michael Rubino: Sure. 

[00:21:19] Christa Biegler: More people would get better and worse. And then, I have clients that ask me, was this always a problem? Or do we just know about it more? Or what is the issue? And that's a great question. It is a valid question because I think there is an element of know better, do better.

[00:21:35] Christa Biegler: And so I think the more you see it and you understand the relationships and the patterns, you realize Oh, this is mold way more often than we ever thought. That's how it is for me. Oh, it's mold. But the problem is maybe everyone's got mold in their house. So how severe is it for people?

[00:21:50] Christa Biegler: So just navigating. And I would say the bottom line is anything that induces more stress. Isn't good. We know that. So anytime we're, so everything you've said so far is like sucks. To be honest, right? It's 

[00:22:03] Michael Rubino: Oh yeah. So I think we can 

[00:22:05] Michael Rubino: learn the less stress podcast. I'll get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

[00:22:09] Michael Rubino: Don't worry. I want to comment on what you just said because I think there are three contributing factors. Yes, we know more today than we've ever known. And that statement will hopefully hold true every day. We should be doing more and more. Not only do we know more, which is helpful because you can't do something about something you're not aware of, right?

[00:22:31] Michael Rubino: We also have to look at the consideration of one Richie Shoemaker was just on a podcast with Jordan Peterson. He thinks that mold is actually evolving and becoming more and more dangerous. Very possible, right? Definitely a possibility. But here's what I think people are missing.

[00:22:48] Michael Rubino: Our spaces are so much tighter today. Then they were 30 years ago, right? So we're talking 1970s, Richard Nixon's in office. We're dealing with a global energy crisis. So what do we do? We start building everything towards this energy efficiency race. Now, why does this matter? People say energy efficiency has nothing to do with mold.

[00:23:10] Michael Rubino: Okay. Maybe that's true in the sense where energy efficiency doesn't necessarily create a breeding ground for mold. But what it does do is it creates less air exchange. Why is air exchange matter? We're going back to early grade science class here. Particles are diluted. Now, if I am in a snow globe breathing in a crap ton of particles, I'm probably going to get much sicker than if it was, I was in a wide open space breathing in the same amount of particles.

[00:23:47] Michael Rubino: Why is that? Because you have a larger dilution of air, which makes it so that every breath that I take, I would actually be inhaling less particles, even though the same amount of particles are present. I'd have more air to dilute those particles. Now let's fast forward to 2024. We all have these, every new home being built is essentially a spray foam box.

[00:24:12] Michael Rubino: With very little air exchange. Now, of course, there's some builders doing great things with ventilation and they're thinking ahead of the curve, but that's not a building code standard. And especially not in the U S I hear in Canada, they're starting to enforce more HRVs or ERV systems. Great. But here it's not happening.

[00:24:31] Michael Rubino: The good news is we can retrofit them and fix this. I'm just saying, if people aren't aware of this fact, they probably have these boxes that they're breathing in a limited quantity of air. There's no fresh air exchange. And so if they do have a mold problem, it feels a lot more intensified because the amount of mold particles or toxins or what have you that they're breathing in.

[00:24:54] Michael Rubino: Is going to be a lot higher quantity than if they had a 1950s home with a balloon frame that has a ton of ventilation. So that part definitely plays a massive role in this. But the second thing going about this evolution of building science here is like the lumber and the part of the products that we use to build our homes today.

[00:25:19] Michael Rubino: They're just so much cheaper and more mass produced. And I think that plays a big role into it too. Look at a two by four from 1970 and a two by four from today. They look nothing alike on top of that aspect. The drywall and we're using, we used to use plaster, which was more cement. This stuff is, it's drywall, it's paper, it's chalk, it's mold food.

[00:25:44] Michael Rubino: So I think we have to look at the way in which we build homes today too is significantly different. And so that does play a factor into this whole equation that I think a lot of people don't think about. The other thing people love to say is a mold is everywhere. So how could it be?

[00:25:59] Michael Rubino: And it's It's everywhere. If you look at it from the standpoint of the spore itself. Yes, the seeds organisms produce these seeds called spores and these spores do travel across. So you're going to have some level of spores in your environment. But that doesn't mean that if we live in these tight boxes again, that if we have tons of mold problems.

[00:26:23] Michael Rubino: Creating organisms that are reproducing particles. Now you're breathing in stuff again, a lot more than you would that we want to ignore that. Because that does affect our health. This is a known thing. You can go on the EPA, CDC. They're all going to tell you don't want to have mold in your environment.

[00:26:38] Michael Rubino: So I think people should stop downplaying that. 

[00:26:41] Christa Biegler: I do want to, let's talk about that. And then we'll come back to building materials and all the places that things can act, water can intrude. And then also I want to talk a lot about. mold inspection as a consumer because our inspection opportunities are not great and trying to figure it out is probably the first thing.

[00:26:57] Christa Biegler: But back to the conversation, which comes up and I think it's relevant, which is, we've lived with mold for a very long time. So you just went over that, right? We've lived with mold for a long time, but we're in more airtight spaces now. Maybe we spend even less time. Outside, honestly and mold was is a natural piece of the environment because it decays things.

[00:27:19] Christa Biegler: However, our goal is not to decay. And when you talk about ventilation. I just think about who's supposed to be an expert in ventilation, right? Like you said, there's not really, are there building codes around ventilation? Tell me about that. 

[00:27:33] Michael Rubino: On the majority. No, I think that, like I said, I know Canada is starting to implement and they're building codes, ERV, HRV there probably are some states or locales in the U S that are going in that direction, but it's not a widely enforced issue, which is a problem. 

[00:27:51] Christa Biegler: Let's talk about some building materials that are maybe coming on the scene that might be really helpful in inhibiting, reducing mold. So you just talked about how we no longer use plaster, which was more cement. We use paper, which is drywall and mold food.

[00:28:08] Christa Biegler: I have heard about drywall made out of magnesium oxide that is supposed to be better for molds. I've heard about something called rockwool insulation. Can you talk about any, this or any other building materials that are out or starting to come out that are solutions? And I wonder why they came out.

[00:28:29] Michael Rubino: Yeah, so rockwool is I love rockwool because it's just so easy to get. It's not a special order. You could literally go to Home Depot and get it. It's a little more expensive than fiberglass, but it's a mineral wool. It is naturally antimicrobial, which means it's going to be a better product. In terms of molar bacterial growth there are other insulation products that have come out over the years that are supposed to be antimicrobial sound attenuation products that have come out over the years.

[00:29:00] Michael Rubino: And, I think it just needs a test of time. Rockwell has been around for a long time now. And has been working really well. Magnesium oxide board itself is essentially it's a board made of magnesium oxide and it doesn't hold moisture. If it doesn't hold moisture, it's really hard for something to grow.

[00:29:20] Michael Rubino: Does that mean that mold can't grow on the dust on the surface? Of course it can. Just like you could see mold growing on the surface of glass. Cause it's actually growing and eating off the dust that's on the glass. But the remediation aspect becomes really simple. You're, you can literally wipe it down, right?

[00:29:38] Michael Rubino: Just like if you were cleaning a glass table, non porous materials like that are great. What's the downside of magnesium oxide board? There's always a downside, right? The downside is, from what I understand, it's hard to work with hard to, drywall. You basically tape the seams and you can paint it and it looks like one big painted surface.

[00:29:57] Michael Rubino: I understand magnesium oxide board tends to flex and cause cracking and things of that nature. So that is like the one Pain point about it, but I would imagine manufacturing will get better over time. And they'll, resolve that problem. The point is that being able to have alternatives to build safer housing for people, I think is a really good idea.

[00:30:20] Michael Rubino: Drywall itself, we know is a big mold source, right? It's a food source for mold and essentially, so you can't get it wet, right? Knowing that, we have to really be diligent if it ever does get wet to prevent mold. Many people don't realize that if drywall gets wet, it's shot, right?

[00:30:39] Michael Rubino: People all the time think, oh, it dried, I painted over it, we're good to go. No, you're not good to go. I bet if you did a mold test, you would see that, right? I think it's an awareness thing. Could we change materials? Yes. Why was drywall invented over plaster? Because it's cheaper and easier to manufacture and it's cheaper and easier to install.

[00:30:59] Michael Rubino: So plaster is like actually an art. If you hire someone who's a, plaster person to come over and fix some plaster and there's an art to that. If you've ever heard of Venetian plaster or seen that done, you probably know exactly what I mean. The problem now is it is a lost art.

[00:31:16] Michael Rubino: There are very few people that actually know how to do really good plaster work. So we've lost a skillset over this evolution of building process, but now people really only know how to install a drywall, right? We've created this situation where it's really hard to go backwards. If we're going to continue to use drywall, like it seems like we have no choice at this point, we have to really make sure we have good drainage plans for the house itself so that water as water does intrude, because it will materials will break down water will intrude.

[00:31:51] Michael Rubino: It doesn't come all the way into the house and start making the drywall wet getting the insulation wet and making us have to tear this stuff all the way out. 

[00:31:58] Christa Biegler: I was just thinking, I'm just typing out that I think you should come up with a building and buying guide 101 for mold reduction. Do you ever nerd out when you travel around?

[00:32:08] Christa Biegler: I had this conversation with a client who vacations in Hawaii often and she said the home that they're in literally It just has bars on the upper part of the wall. I think maybe the walls are made out of cement block. Don't quote me, but I think at the top it's just open for the outside, right? Like all these little bars and I think her concern was water coming in.

[00:32:32] Christa Biegler: But I think about this as that's a lot of air exchange going on, right? Like it's made that way intentionally. So I don't know if you have any comments or anything you've noticed as you've traveled where you think, Oh, this was done well or not well. 

[00:32:47] Michael Rubino: Yeah, it's, I travel quite a bit seen a lot of different places, been to a lot of different regions, seen a lot of different styles of construction.

[00:32:55] Michael Rubino: Probably always nerding out and always looking at things that most people would never think to look at. And that particular scenario, like when you have. When you have humidity as a problem, you need it. You need one of two strategies. You either need tons of ventilation and air movement so that moisture doesn't build up.

[00:33:14] Michael Rubino: That's strategy number one. Or the other strategy is you need, a crap ton of insulation to keep temperature differentials apart and you need dehumidification strategies because unfortunately if your house is the drier side moisture dries to the dryer side, which means moisture is always gonna be drying on the inside.

[00:33:36] Michael Rubino: So you'll need some way of controlling that moisture as it does come into the home to so that it's not building up again and allowing for moisture to develop. Yeah, you can't believe the amount of homes in Florida that I've seen where they spray foam the entire thing and there's no dehumidifier.

[00:33:55] Michael Rubino: And it's like literally raining in people's attics, like literally raining. Like you could see water everywhere. And you're like, huh, interesting. Why would they do that? It's like my house is in Florida. My house doesn't have spray foam. It's all ventilated. And so essentially there's air coming in through the soffits.

[00:34:17] Michael Rubino: It's circulating, pushing out through the ridge vent and it's constant. So there's so much air movement in the attic of my house. That essentially the moisture always is escaping and refreshing itself. It's not building up and of course, the humidity that comes into the house. Cause again, moisture does dry to the dryer side.

[00:34:37] Michael Rubino: The humidity is always up getting pushed up out of the house and it's just recycling. And my humidity really never raises about 55%. The AC, I've a few AC units. They're constantly running. Also dehumidifying at the same time. The house has a really good setup that you have to either do that way, or if you're going to go the other way and seal the entire envelope then you better have a dehumidification strategy.

[00:35:03] Michael Rubino: If you live in a climate. That always has moisture where it's going to dry into the home. 

[00:35:12] Christa Biegler: Do you, where you live, is it really common for HVAC to be in the ceiling as well? 

[00:35:18] Michael Rubino: Yeah, I would say so. Because if you have a second floor or even if you have a first floor in the in the attic above it.

[00:35:25] Michael Rubino: They're going to utilize the attic space itself to run all their duck work and so you'll have a lot of registers in the ceiling. 

[00:35:32] Christa Biegler: I'm sure there's accidental building things that happen as people Move around the United States, right? Or where I live, there can be some government contracts sometimes, and the company will come from a warm climate.

[00:35:44] Christa Biegler: We are not a warm climate where I live and they'll put pipes, and exterior walls and things that are, you should never, it was negative 50 or 60 here last week or two weeks ago. And pretty much everything can break at that point. So you just need to, there's a pro and a con to everything.

[00:36:01] Christa Biegler: It's just, it's all about awareness. I think part of the bottom line is no matter what as a homeowner and, there's a lot of stuff that you just don't know until you that we should understand, but there's no one telling us. It's almost like having a baby. It's was I going to get a manual with this?

[00:36:15] Christa Biegler: And there's not really a manual to your house. So as we talk through this, I hope it's helpful just because I think this all boils down to education and I just want people to understand the aptitude for mold. So there's not so much doubt around it because if you're walking around with sinus congestion, you probably inhaled mold at some point, most likely.

[00:36:33] Christa Biegler: So do you keep a humidity meter, a cheap little one in every room in the house or most rooms or bathrooms, or how do you handle that at your house? 

[00:36:40] Michael Rubino: Yeah, I have a few of them on each floor. Spread up, spread across, and I have dehumidifiers in certain sectors of each floor so that, they're just plugged in, they turn on if they need to, they turn off when they don't it's all set to 50%, so anytime humidity creeps above 50%, they'll turn on.

[00:36:59] Michael Rubino: So I'm always monitoring things and it's pretty cold here right now. And pretty cold for me is 60 degrees, by the way. And when it's colder, you're going to have the relative humidity, you're going to have it hold more moisture. With that being said, we want to make sure that I'm controlling the humidity at a specific percentage so that if there's too much moisture in the air, we're not having a potential for mold to grow or bacteria to grow, et cetera.

[00:37:24] Michael Rubino: 60 percent seems to be the problem. humidity level that when it approaches that, you're starting to support some microbial growth. Not all molds can grow in 60 percent relative humidity, like stacky botrys, the nefarious black mold that we all hear about. That requires a pretty good high level water content.

[00:37:44] Michael Rubino: And it's going to take three to five days to grow. Whereas aspergillus 24 hours, right? So , there's definitely a difference to what can happen and how it happens, but I think the key is if you can really keep it below 60%. And that's relative humidity relative to the temperature that it is outside and things of that nature.

[00:38:03] Michael Rubino: We can make sure that we're controlling the ability for mold to grow. And that's really the key. It's you can't do anything about having a mold free home from the perspective of not having any spores inside the house. But if you control the spores ability to grow and germinate into mold the organism and colonize.

[00:38:23] Michael Rubino: Now we're in a good spot, right? Because when mold spores come into our house, we can clean, we have, we can get air purifiers, we can control the microbial load, if you will, inside the environment. And that's good news folks. Cause that means that you can go to the grocery store and, your friend's house and family's house and not have to worry about what you're bringing home with you, right?

[00:38:44] Michael Rubino: Because that's not what this is about. This is about controlling its ability to grow and take over. Our homes, that's where things become problematic. 

[00:38:53] Christa Biegler: I think this is potentially really valuable. And this kind of came into my periphery pretty recently. It's and here's how I'm thinking through the humidity meter situation.

[00:39:02] Christa Biegler: It's you have one in rooms, especially like bathrooms that have the tendency. To be an issue, right? Where there's more water stuff. And so you have your baseline that you see. And so if it creeps up and just hangs out for no reason, if there's no one taking a shower there, then you might see that you've got a humidity issue or in that case, it's really nice to have a dehumidifier or see, do I have a more of an issue overall?

[00:39:25] Christa Biegler: And maybe this is just a Google thing a bit, but I've been thinking a lot about this lately as I travel to a place where we have a fireplace and the humidity is just zapped out of that particular house. Whereas we're in my home, I have a geothermal and I think it's the most wonderful humidity that's perfect all the time.

[00:39:42] Christa Biegler: And And then in other places like where you live, I would imagine, maybe not all, I don't know where you are, but coastal areas, the humidity is going to depend on the area you're in, but is it safe to say, I thought humidity levels should be 30 to 50 percent in homes. But do you think it just depends on the region?

[00:40:00] Christa Biegler: I guess it wouldn't. If your home is fully enclosed, I would think that we should stay under 60 percent for sure. But I feel like when you say yours is 60%, that's actually high. That would not be normal where I live. 

[00:40:11] Michael Rubino: Yeah, 

[00:40:11] Michael Rubino: so I keep it, I set it to 50%. So it's yeah, usually between 30 and 50.

[00:40:17] Michael Rubino: In Florida, if I try to get it to 30% I don't think it. I think I'll be running dehumidifiers 24 seven and it would just never run off and it would just be crazy. I think you want to pay attention to the climate that you're in, right? If I live in Arizona getting it to 50 percent might be an impossible task, right?

[00:40:38] Michael Rubino: Yeah, I'd probably want things to be at a comfort level of 30 percent because we don't want to start adding too much humidity to try to get things to this perceived perfect level. Home should be between 30 and 50%. If it's too low, it's a problem. If it's too high, it's a problem, right? It's got to be in that sweet spot.

[00:40:55] Michael Rubino: Depending on where you live. Would dictate how feasible it is to keep it at what end of that range, right? You just want it within that range. So if I'm always at 30%, cause I'm in a drier climate, I'm not going to go crazy trying to get it, to be 40 percent or 50 percent because it doesn't matter, just needs to be within that range.

[00:41:15] Michael Rubino: If I live in a humid climate. I'm gonna fight like mad to try to get it to 30%. I'm not even gonna bother, right? As long as I know I'm keeping it within that range, I'm okay. I'm happy. 

[00:41:26] Christa Biegler: Is one of those things that was really out of sight, out of mind for me until I spent time in this place with the fireplace.

[00:41:31] Christa Biegler: And I am now noticing, Oh, the humidity here at 25 ish percent is absolutely terrible to someone who might run on the drier side of skin. And I work with lots of clients like that too. So very good empathy and experience where you go there and realize I hadn't had that experience in a very long time where you go somewhere and all the moisture, there's no moisture in the air and it.

[00:41:51] Christa Biegler: It makes you very dry. So just interesting, right? Some things you don't think about. All right. So I want to mention a couple of things that from the last episode that were really impactful. If I could only remember two things that Michael ever told me, one thing that was very impressionable to me was just like, reduce all the dust in your house.

[00:42:10] Christa Biegler: The end just get rid of all the dust. And I've actually become like, just sometimes I have intermittent psycho times where I'm just like dusting like a person. And when I heard you talking about air circulation, I was dusting my fan last night in my bedroom. So I'm cursing like the fact that like they get dusty, but in a way, having a fan in every room is just like a really good strategy, right?

[00:42:32] Christa Biegler: For keeping airflow. So get rid of the dust cleaner HVAC way more than you think you need to. I think the filter was monthly and then the HVAC system was up to twice a year or at least annually, and most people don't even know they need to do it at all. So that was very good. If you want to add anything else to that, great.

[00:42:50] Christa Biegler: Otherwise I'd love to go talk now about, we talked a little bit about last time and I've just given up on inspection for the most part when trying to support clients, not that this is my area, but when I, Encounter a client and I'm working with them on their body and I'm seeing that there's mold patterns.

[00:43:05] Christa Biegler: Now we've got to talk about the environment in some capacity. So they usually want to ask me a lot of environmental questions. Unfortunately, we've come up pretty dry with inspection. I've had. Literally, people have an inspector that says that there's nothing and the next week they find mold themselves like pretty substantially.

[00:43:22] Christa Biegler: So a problem. So something we've started to do is supported clients with trying to find their own one. mold or in some of these tools like a boroscope, moisture meters, et cetera. I feel like if you live in the house, you're probably, it's like when you live in your body, you're going to know your body best, you live in the house, you might know your house best.

[00:43:40] Christa Biegler: So you might be the right person to start to find the mold. So can we talk a little bit about DIY mold inspection for starting point? Because when you have some stranger come in, they may not do. 

[00:43:51] Christa Biegler, RD: Yeah. 

[00:43:53] Michael Rubino: There are like maybe three people that I know of in the entire United States that I would, actually pay money to have come over and inspect the house.

[00:44:01] Michael Rubino: And that's out of 50, 000 companies that exist in the space. That says a lot, right? fairness, I haven't met all 50, 000 companies. All right. You get the sense of where I'm going with this. Many of them to 

[00:44:11] Christa Biegler: solve our problems, it's a human situation. 

[00:44:13] Michael Rubino: Listen, I love that aspect too.

 You could ask my wife, how many people come here to fix certain things that I probably could fix, I don't have the time or the damn patients to do it. The reality of this situation is it is very difficult. And the main reason is because when air testing became a thing, Everybody fell in love with it because it is the easiest thing to do.

[00:44:36] Michael Rubino: You literally set up a tripod and you put a pump on it and you put a little screw, a little cassette on, and you hit a button. And in five minutes it turns off and you take that and you go to the next room and you do the same thing. And, lab charges, I don't know, 50, 75. I'm not sure, I'm not in the business, somewhere around that aspect, right?

[00:44:57] Michael Rubino: And then they mark up the sample and you pay for it, right? That's just how the business works, okay? And it is so much easier for somebody to sell you 10 samples around the center of each room in the house, which will give you very little valuable information, by the way. In that strategy. And then they write a report and they give it to you.

[00:45:19] Michael Rubino: So that's what you're paying for. What are you actually paying for? You're paying for 10 air samples in the center of the room of each house. And then you get this report, which nine times out of 10, we'll tell you everything's at normal levels compared to outside. Okay, good. I'm glad the center of your room compared to outside is normal.

[00:45:36] Michael Rubino: But what I'm not glad about is that they missed any potential problem in that room, because as long as you're, just a few feet away, you're not going to pick it up, right? The goal is to be really within three feet of the problem and test there, or test as close as humanly possible. So they miss all these things, like you said, and the client hires these people and that costs thousands of dollars and it's just all money wasted.

[00:46:01] Michael Rubino: So you almost really do need to At a very minimum, be your own inspector and give the information to somebody. Cause I understand not everybody has the tools or apparatuses or know how to operate these things, right? You, 

[00:46:15] Christa Biegler: but it's actually not that expensive. 

[00:46:18] Michael Rubino: It's not that expensive to buy all that equipment, I'm sure.

[00:46:22] Michael Rubino: But if you do that, whether you're testing yourself or not. You really need to understand how this works and how this works is you need to identify potential problems inside your home that could have either occurred a while ago or occurring right now to be able to understand. And let's just say, I don't have any testing equipment, right?

[00:46:44] Michael Rubino: What's probably the number one thing I would want to have a thermal imaging camera. I don't know why, because I'm going to look for temperature differentials in my house to see if there's problems. Why would there be temperature differentials? There might not be enough insulation in a wall cavity and that lack of insulation is allowing condensation to develop in that area, which that would be a spot where mold would grow.

[00:47:05] Michael Rubino: Or maybe I'd check around my vents, right? Because maybe my boot connections, which are my part of my HVAC equipment, maybe they're not well insulated or well sealed. And so that's allowing temperature differentials to allow those things to sweat in my ceilings that I'm not aware of, because, a lot of us think that we have to see it to have it like I've walked into the most amazing homes I've ever been in my entire life that you would never think had mold.

[00:47:34] Michael Rubino: And here we are, they're sick and we find crazy stuff at their house and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the house is a 500, 000 house or a 50 million house. We see the same problems. It's crazy. 

[00:47:48] Christa Biegler: Like the ones you're describing. Is there any exceptions?

[00:47:50] Michael Rubino: Like the ones I'm describing. Yeah. There's just no exceptions.

[00:47:53] Christa Biegler: Because I feel like this would be so easy to have be a problem. 

[00:47:57] Michael Rubino: Apparently, ignorant contractors and mold does not discriminate, alright? So we have to really understand this. It doesn't matter our social or economic status in this world of ours, we were dealing with the same issues, just on different scales.

[00:48:09] Michael Rubino: So that thermal imaging camera is probably going to be my best friends when I'm walking through a property. And I know they're not that cheap. They're usually around a thousand bucks or so that's the most expensive thing. Yeah. 

[00:48:20] Christa Biegler: Yeah. And I've, I see decent ones for 300 unless you, again, I'm not the expert on that.

[00:48:24] Christa Biegler: I'll just say like maybe there's a thousand, maybe 

[00:48:27] Christa Biegler: 300, right? 

[00:48:28] Michael Rubino: Just listen, anything you can do. Outside of setting up an air sample in the center of the room. I'll tell you, it's worth it. If you can get one for 300, maybe it's not the best. Maybe it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. If it works.

[00:48:41] Michael Rubino: Okay. I always tell people that moisture meter, that's another thing that doesn't have to be, you could probably get a thousand dollar one. You could also get a 50 one. There may be some differences in the materials and the methods of which it uses, but if it works, right? I would use a moisture meter around different locations.

[00:48:58] Michael Rubino: That's only going to tell you if there's an active leak, of course, and so you may have to wait for a rainy day and use the moisture meter and compare it to days where it's not rainy, right? And looking for those differences to see is moisture coming in or not. And. Last but not least, I would say the HVAC, I can't tell you how many issues there are with HVAC machines.

[00:49:22] Michael Rubino: It's just crazy. Check it, look at it. If you see mold, that's not good. And, a lot of these HVAC companies, they'll open it up, they'll find mold, and they'll be like, Ah, that's normal. I see that all the time. Just because you see it all the time doesn't mean it should be normal. And that's part of the issue. It's like we have become So 

[00:49:43] Christa Biegler: desensitized,

[00:49:43] Michael Rubino: unaware and desensitized all this stuff that we're allowing it to affect us. If you do want to get testing stuff, you suspect a problem in a wall, test the wall cavity, like literally drill a little hole through the wall, stick the tube through the wall, pull the air from behind the wall.

[00:50:01] Christa Biegler: Is there a place someone can send their own air cavity samples? I know you have a dust test, but I don't know of a company where you can pull your own air samples and send them to. 

[00:50:12] Christa Biegler, RD: For years, I've been recommending microbalance products to my clients to help them clear mold from their homes and bodies. The creator of microbalance is a practicing ear, nose, and throat doctor that's tested their unique formulas to kill mold, but not other microbes, because he's found that over 90 percent of those with chronic sinus issues can have fungal or mold issues in the sinuses.

[00:50:33] Christa Biegler, RD: I've even found small amounts of mold can cause everything from skin rashes to food sensitivities, throat clearing, and so many other symptoms. So if you'd like to try anything from microbalance, you can get 15 percent off by using the code less stressed, or by downloading our free checklist of 10 easy ways to reduce mold in your home at Christa Biegler com forward slash mold. And I'll also include the code there. 

[00:50:55] Christa Biegler, RD: I love micro balances, sinus sprays, and their laundry additives to just remove smells and molds from fabrics. They really do help make things easier, whether it's trying to test your home for mold or just reduce the exposure in your everyday appliances.

[00:51:08] Christa Biegler, RD: So you can grab that checklist at Christa Biegler com forward slash mold, or use the code less stressed at microbalance. com for 15 percent off your order.

[00:51:17] Michael Rubino: I believe, we inspect has this app now where people can do their own inspections using their platform, which is great there.

[00:51:25] Michael Rubino: You could call labs directly. Some will sell to homeowners. Some won't. It depends. It's not something I do a ton of, so I'm not aware of all the amazing things and solutions that might exist, but. There are solutions if you don't want to, go through the extensive process of finding one of the best companies and hiring them, and the expensive that may come with and whatnot.

[00:51:47] Michael Rubino: If you're looking for more at home solutions for those types of things, I know they exist, but you might have to call around. 

[00:51:54] Christa Biegler: Sure. Okay. So thermal gun is going to show you temperature differences. I was actually thinking about this though, recently with it being really cold, I was observing a spot in a rental property that we have that it's got a crack in the interior.

[00:52:08] Christa Biegler: So then, I'm like, is there a problem here or not? And I thought a thermal gun would be great. But when the building is a metal building already, and it's a super cold, and it's this is the wall and then the outside's a metal. I don't know. Is it. I'll be curious if what gets picked up there, right?

[00:52:24] Christa Biegler: Cause there should still be a difference if there is an issue in a certain spot. 

[00:52:28] Michael Rubino: Yeah, even metal to metal can condensate pretty easily, if there's temperature differentials. So if I see temperature differentials within metal, I'm going to be pretty concerned about that. The moisture meter gets pretty screwed up with metal pretty easily.

[00:52:41] Michael Rubino: Cause if the metal is cold and you stick the moisture meter near it, it might think that it's actually wet, right? So you have to be careful about that. But you'll be able to see, cause if you know that there might be metal in an area, you follow the path where the metal travels of it's only wet there.

[00:52:57] Michael Rubino: And as soon as you go to another area that has no metal, it just turns off. Then you might know it's might be the metal picking it up. Depends on the moisture meter. 

[00:53:07] Christa Biegler: We talked a little bit earlier. So as we wrap up this DIY inspection and the other thing I think that you always want to do is check any space that touches a water source, right?

[00:53:19] Christa Biegler: So the other wall behind any pipes under sinks and just put things into place, like under washers, under sinks you can buy a 10 mat for under a sink that can protect your wood vanity. In the interim while between checking this stuff certainly can get a little moisture, things to set around.

[00:53:39] Christa Biegler: And I've been at Airbnb that have had those. And it makes me curious. 

[00:53:46] Michael Rubino: Yeah. They're like the weather tech mats for your car. Like those all weather mats that you get yeah, they make literally like. That same thing for underneath vanities, which are phenomenal. But yeah, you want to check walls where plumbing is, you want to check walls where HVAC runs are.

[00:54:02] Michael Rubino: Cause can't tell you how many times HVAC ducts aren't properly insulated and they're just sweating in the wall. It's crazy, but happens. And you'll want to check, where plumbing devices terminate to. Plumbing sources, right? So underneath your sink, prime example, you got all the pipes coming from the wall into the device itself.

[00:54:22] Michael Rubino: And that's a weak point where leaks can occur. And I've seen too many times leaks from underneath sinks, seeping in, below the cabinet, behind the cabinet, naive to take the cabinet ads becomes the whole thing. So it's really important to think about, through some of these things.

[00:54:38] Michael Rubino: And then you also want to think about if you find a problem, how long has that been happening? Odds are it's a long time, right? And if mold can grow in as quickly as 24 to 48 hours, certain bacteria too. It's probably a Petri dish by now. 

[00:54:51] Christa Biegler: There's so many things that I didn't like when we were doing the building on our house that I'm pretty thankful for.

[00:54:56] Christa Biegler: Now my husband thought through some things below our dishwasher and our sink is a storage room. That's just concrete. And the basement wall is concrete. So not that is necessarily positive or negative, but there's nothing really hidden if something is going to be exposed, I can literally see the tubing for the pipes, like for that's right under the sink and dishwasher in that storage room, it's all exposed.

[00:55:20] Christa Biegler: So I can see it. The silk cock that goes outside is right there too. So if there's an issue, like it's not just going to get buried in the ceiling for a long, it's, I see it. It's literally a storage room. And then our water heaters right below the master shower intentionally, because he wanted it to heat up immediately.

[00:55:37] Christa Biegler: But then that's also it's right on the other side of 2 bathrooms. Again, you can see if there's an issue overall. I remember we replaced the tile in the kid's bathroom very early because the grout cracked and they were like whales in the bathtub and it leaked through the floor and we're like, Oh, we are just ripping this tile out and putting something a little bit better in.

[00:56:02] Christa Biegler: It was like really quickly. So I hear the concept all the time. People say I'm in new construction. And I get it, but I think we talked about that. Like nothing's perfect. And it's really just an education piece. Can you see the area? And if you can't see the area, what are your options to check that stuff intermittently?

[00:56:18] Michael Rubino: Yeah. 

[00:56:19] Michael Rubino: My new construction house had toxigenic mold and very high quantities. So you just don't know. 

[00:56:26] Christa Biegler: If you have a minute, I want to ask about that with new construction. And at what point does someone make a decision we're going to do something with this?

[00:56:32] Christa Biegler: Because I was talking to someone that I work with right before I jumped down with you and she was sharing a family member talking about having new construction and it got so moldy that they literally did a power washing. Thing like the builders did something to try to fix whatever the mold situation was.

[00:56:51] Christa Biegler: Now you're coming from that industry. Did you see all new construction? Pretty much have mold. Did you see anyone doing anything about it? What happens? If you're having a house built, should you stop by pretty often? Maybe 

[00:57:02] Michael Rubino: You should, yeah.

[00:57:04] Michael Rubino: Cause they're not, always the most honest people is the best way to say that. 

[00:57:08] Christa Biegler: You don't know, they might not know either. 

[00:57:10] Michael Rubino: Yeah. This builder was building, I think is some, the community anyway, it was like 4, 000 homes all being built around the same time. And as I drove around the development, I saw my house.

[00:57:22] Michael Rubino: Was this had the same issues as all the other houses? Like all of the lumber was sitting in the soil, it wasn't just it was my house picked out and. As I drove around, I saw the same mold issues developing on the lumber that was about to go on those houses. And, I guess probably not many of them spoke up the way that I did.

[00:57:43] Christa Biegler: Not everyone owns a air quality company. 

[00:57:47] Michael Rubino: The whole thing was heartbreaking. It's still to this day it just breaks my heart, the whole process and what happened and how this actually occurs. And I met with the builder and said, listen, there's mold all over this place.

[00:57:58] Michael Rubino: I gave him a copy of my book at the time, which I think they found funny. And, I said, listen, this is a problem for me, and my family who are moving into this house. And frankly, this is just a problem for anybody moving into any of these houses. I explained to them why I believed what was happening and why it happened.

[00:58:16] Michael Rubino: They agreed to remediate. Okay. It's, I didn't have a choice in who remediates. I didn't, I had no, that's just not how it works. I'm in contract. And after they remediated is when I tested it. So the levels of mold that were found were post remediation. I didn't test it beforehand.

[00:58:36] Michael Rubino: You could see it visibly like it wasn't, so the remediation was unsuccessful to say the least. And we, all they did was they just like that, I think sandblasted it or dry ass blasted it and you're gonna miss spots, right? So they missed a ton. They didn't clean up well at all. The remediation company obviously had no idea what mold remediation actually is.

[00:58:57] Michael Rubino: I think they sandblast for a living because all they did was redistribute the mold from the lumber all in this sand that's now scattered all over the house. It's okay, is anybody going to vacuum this up? Okay. I'm going to test it. mold after all this, so it just got legal really quickly.

[00:59:16] Michael Rubino: And from that point on, this is all we settled so I'm not able to disclose, anything that isn't public record. So this is public record. We decided to go our separate ways and do our own thing, but it's really shocking to me how a lawsuit could be settled, the house could be sold to somebody else directly after, with nothing being handled.

[00:59:39] Christa Biegler: Yeah. 

[00:59:39] Michael Rubino: And what about the other 4, 000 homes? It's just It's crazy. Crazy. 

[00:59:43] Christa Biegler: Yeah. Yeah. We don't have any. 

[00:59:44] Michael Rubino: And this is in one community in one town in Florida. Let's think about that across the country, the magnitude of this thing. And listen, I know people that are listening to this right now, you've drove, driven around your area and you've seen houses being built and you've seen lumber sitting in the soil and you've seen these issues.

[01:00:07] Michael Rubino: Now that you're thinking about it you're with me here. The scale of this is disgusting. 

[01:00:11] Christa Biegler: Yeah, I get it. 

[01:00:13] Michael Rubino: And there are standards. The Structural Building Components Association does a great job teaching people not to put the lumber in the soil.

[01:00:21] Michael Rubino: But who's listening? Who's required to listen? 

[01:00:24] Christa Biegler: Interesting. 

[01:00:27] Christa Biegler: Good. There's some stuff. There's somewhere a message at least conveyed somewhere along the line, whether, 

[01:00:33] Michael Rubino: yes, my message is this I have a foundation called change the air foundation, and, I need everyone's help to help me fight these crazy, outdated, antiquated practices.

[01:00:47] Michael Rubino: We have the healthy at home act of 2023, one of the first federal bills, that are looking to protect people from poor indoor air quality. We have bills in six different states because, water damage buildings is not considered a health hazard in any state in America, which is still absolutely mind blowingly crazy to me as well.

[01:01:08] Michael Rubino: So there are things we can do about it, but it takes, it, I only have so much time. I only have so much money, I need other people's help of their time and resources to get this thing done. But We're making good strides and things are going in the right direction. I know it sounds all doom and gloom, but things are going to get better.

[01:01:26] Christa Biegler: What kind of help do you need to change the air foundation? If someone's listening to this what are your, the gaps? 

[01:01:33] Michael Rubino: The first thing we need is time we need volunteers instead want to change laws in their state. So there are 50 States right now. We are advocating in 14 states.

[01:01:46] Michael Rubino: We have bills proposed in six states. We have quite a few more states to go and it's, bills proposed is great. You need bills passed. 

[01:01:56] Christa Biegler: Yeah, that's, that's actually a huge step forward though. I used to work in policy. So 

[01:02:00] Michael Rubino: yeah, it's a 

[01:02:01] Michael Rubino: huge step forward. It takes, politics is not the most straightforward aspect, but it's what we rely on, for protection as citizens. Unfortunately what it takes is it takes moving the needle. Unfortunately, what it takes is you're a politician, the person that's responsible for your district. needs to hear from you enough that this is a real issue that you voted for them to handle, right? That's just the simplicity of it.

[01:02:27] Michael Rubino: They need to have some sort of pressure of an existing issue that they need to address. So if it's just me talking to politicians that, things need to change and it's not the constituents that they represent, it's a lot harder to get that change that we need, right? So it's time and emails and calls and helping out and helping us really make the change that we need.

[01:02:50] Michael Rubino: And then if you are fortunate enough to have money to donate. Of course, we always need money too, because it costs money to put these programs together. 

[01:02:59] Christa Biegler: When people go change their, will you tell people how to find the website? And if there's like a form they could fill out, if they're interested in helping or if there's any verbiage or anything like that, or where people can find you online.

[01:03:10] Michael Rubino: Yeah. So if you go to change the air foundation. org there is a section where you click, learn about the foundation, you click volunteer and you can let us know that you're interested in volunteering. And mainly volunteers are for helping us with political outreach. Getting these bills passed for us is a huge thing that we want to accomplish.

[01:03:29] Michael Rubino: And it's because people are getting sick and we want people to stop getting sick inside their own homes. 

[01:03:36] Christa Biegler: Any other place you want people to find you online, Michael? 

[01:03:39] Michael Rubino: If you dare to, you can search for me online and I make tons of Instagram and TikTok stuff. So some of it's more serious, some of it's more funny but very educational.

[01:03:49] Michael Rubino: That's the goal. I want you to learn things and all kinds of things you'll learn about mold in your coffee and mold in your HVAC and mold in your walls and all kinds of things that might have been blissfully ignorant about before, but the goal is we want to make sure that you don't get sick inside your own home.

[01:04:07] Michael Rubino: And that's what this is all about. 

[01:04:08] Christa Biegler: Perfect. 

[01:04:10] Christa Biegler: Thank you so much for coming on again today and giving us your time and talking to us about DIY mold inspection a little bit, and just some basic things people can do and how it can affect all ages of construction. Always love having you. Thanks so much. 

[01:04:23] Michael Rubino: Yes.

[01:04:24] Michael Rubino: Thanks for having me.

[01:04:25] Christa Biegler, RD: so if you'd like to try anything from microbalance, you can get 15 percent off by using the code less stressed, or by downloading our free checklist of 10 easy ways to reduce mold in your home at Christa Biegler com forward slash mold. 

[01:04:37] Christa Biegler: Sharing and reviewing this podcast is the best way to help us succeed with our mission to help integrate the best of East and West and empower you to raise the bar on your health story. Just go to review this podcast. com forward slash less stressed life. That's review this podcast. com forward slash less stressed life.

[01:04:59] Christa Biegler: And you'll be taken directly to a page where you can insert your review and hit post. 

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