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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have mold allergies that have caused me a lot of health issues in various flats that I've lived in, even ones without any obvious mold. My symptoms are varied and sometimes extreme (e.g. nasal polyps, hives, asthmatic bronchitis). It's been especially bad in the UK and has prevented me relocating there despite several attempts.

Wondering how much of problem damp and mold are in flats in Portugal, especially in and around Lisbon? I've been told that damp can be an issue in winter due to lack of heating and that walls require an annual wash of lime.

Does anyone here have similar health issues and, if so, have they improved in Portugal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks siobhanwf,

I have used them. I also use a very good filter and a HEPA vacuum. Better than a dehumidifier and many other measures combined is not living in house with mold issues whether it's due to climate, poor construction, poor maintenance or no heating etc. Because of my allergies, I react to a much smaller amount spores than someone without would. I am also more susceptible to mold related illnesses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Hi travelling-man

I think a house anywhere can have mold issues if the right conditions are met. So going inland might not be sufficient on it's own. Ideally I'd keep moisture down and airflow by opening up the windows a lot, but that's preventive and won't help a building that already has problems.

Is central heating or heated flats (don't mean little portable ones or fireplace) more common than it use to be (say 20 years ago). Have you noticed a lot of mold or damp in homes in the winter?

Thanks for the cpap suggestion (I appreciate outside the box thinking :), but not sure that would protect me if my home had issues (spores or mycotoxins in the air). The best thing I can do is avoid damp houses. Which I've come to learn is a lot more difficult than it sounds!
 

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arbb

I can understand it's a very big & very real problem for you.

Bearing in mind how mould grows, I guess you need to live in a more modern/better insulated/better heated place rather than somewhere with stone walls & unheated etc.

If you can stop the mould growing in the first place then you're more than halfway there.

I'm no expert but would think it's quite possible to find the right house in the right area for your needs but would think you'll probably suffer a lot less if you didn't live on the coast.
 

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I do believe, in my limited experience and non-expert opinion, that the problem will be lessened in new construction. Not sure how common central heating is. Electricity can be very expensive. For this reason many people opt for space heaters (and warm blankets!).
 

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The more traditional construction, single stone walls with wooden beams will allow moisture to permeate through the wall so the whole structure can “breathe”, you will always get high humidity inside if there is high humidity outside and it is the difference in temperature which will cause condensation. If you start insulating these old buildings with impervious material this will trap the moisture and damage the structure over a period of time. Modern construction of double skinned walls means you have a building within a building so the internal building can be thermally insulated and climate controlled. By having a modern place with all the rooms at a similar temperature, adequate ventilation in bathrooms and no leaking gutters etc. there should not be any internal damp. There are always spores in the air but they can be managed by preventing damp which will then stop any mould from growing and reproducing billions more spores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
thank you travellingm-man for your thoughful reply.

i think new construction is more likely have "built-in" heating, but it's not a guarantee. thanks bomdia

baldilocks. yes, properly diagnosed by mainstream allergist, confirmed with blood testing by mainstream GP and I'm allergic to several common indoor (and outdoor) molds. Though I generally don't have problems while out doors unless I've become ill from (over) exposure indoors. The best "medicine" is avoidance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The more traditional construction, single stone walls with wooden beams will allow moisture to permeate through the wall so the whole structure can “breathe”, you will always get high humidity inside if there is high humidity outside and it is the difference in temperature which will cause condensation. If you start insulating these old buildings with impervious material this will trap the moisture and damage the structure over a period of time. Modern construction of double skinned walls means you have a building within a building so the internal building can be thermally insulated and climate controlled. By having a modern place with all the rooms at a similar temperature, adequate ventilation in bathrooms and no leaking gutters etc. there should not be any internal damp. There are always spores in the air but they can be managed by preventing damp which will then stop any mould from growing and reproducing billions more spores.
Thanks so much! You're on point and understand the issue(s) - it's not that there are spores present, it's the number of spores present and the mycotoxins they release while growing. I really appreciate your taking the time to post about traditional construction and what to look for if/when we move. I have even had problems in apartments that have had fixed leaks if the leaks were left unattended to long enough then repaired. The spores that grow at 24 hours are not the same as spores at 48 hours and so on. It's very complicated and I'm just beginning to get a small handle on it. Partly due to the fact that I had to leave an apartment after a week while still being responsible for the rent (v expensive as it was in central London). I would love to (still) be able to live where I like, sadly, I can't. Thanks again to you and traveling-man for your informative replies.
 

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Hi arbb, Sorry to hear about your mould problems.

When we migrated down here, one of the machines we brought with us was a "Steam Buggy" it is a water vapouriser, basically it is a portable steam cleaner, it has different lances and is very efficient at sterilizing and removing surface moulds. I beleive that this a similar machine used by hospitals in the UK for sterilizing.

We have used the buggy on cement rendered walls, wood, and we have even used it on the glass windows in our bathroom to remove the mould which, horrifyingly, appeared in our house this winter.

This has been a good temporary remedy before the oncoming Spring, when we can give the house a bit more ventilation.

It is also useful for preparing walls (usually in the corners) etc which were affected by moulds, and after sterilising with the Steam Buggy, allow the treated areas to dry before re-decorating.
 

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I have mold allergies that have caused me a lot of health issues in various flats that I've lived in, even ones without any obvious mold. My symptoms are varied and sometimes extreme (e.g. nasal polyps, hives, asthmatic bronchitis). It's been especially bad in the UK and has prevented me relocating there despite several attempts.

Wondering how much of problem damp and mold are in flats in Portugal, especially in and around Lisbon? I've been told that damp can be an issue in winter due to lack of heating and that walls require an annual wash of lime.

Does anyone here have similar health issues and, if so, have they improved in Portugal?
Painting the walls with limewash (also called "Cal") is far from the solution. Firstly you need to identify the source of the dampness. Is it due to rain penetration or is it rising damp caused by a lack of a damp-proof membrane at the base of the wall?

If it is rain penetration:
The outside of the walls need to be hacked off (especially the multiple layers of Cal) and replastered with what is known as "Capa Fina" which is waterproof once set, then painted over with "Pintura Plastica" (a plastic emulsion paint).​

If it is rising damp:
The interior plaster needs to be hacked off. The bare surface then needs to be either (a) painted with PVA (poly vinyl acetate) which forms a flexible waterproof membrane then replastered, or (b) replastered with Capa Fina; finally repainted with Pintura Plastica​
.

I apologise for using the Spanish names for the stuff that you need to use but any work person worth his/her salt in Portugal will know what they are in Portuguese.
 

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brianb 2 - Additionally the outgoing airs heat, heats the incoming external air. As a quick test stand inside a caravan in the summer and inside a stone house [or castle]; if you go near the internal stone wall you'll find a very tiny discomfort as part of your body heat is absorbed by said wall. In addition on a warm day with the sun heating the stone building a certain amount of evaporation will also make you feel colder, I liken this to an inverted terracotta plant pot. I realize these amounts are minimal but they really make a difference to ones comfort zone. Thanks for reading and I'll look forward to any corrections and or ideas.
 

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Hi, so mold allergies and air quality. I've lived in stone and brick houses in Wales and timber frame houses in Canada. Your answer is timber frame home [although I add I have not lived in one in the UK]. I've answered this without thinking about it, so on reflection, air gives up its water vapor to a cold surface and the internal surfaces in a brick and a stone house are cold. water vapor on the wall encourages allergies to grow-so rent one and see. Now air quality can be improved at a price with an air circulation/exchange device which exchanges internal air [moist from kettle,bath,tap,people breathing, meals all add up] for external air. Unfortunately this text is 2 long so I'll follow this starting brianb2-
 

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Problem in Portugal is two-fold: We do have quite high humidity in winter and damp courses in older houses are a rarity. the latter causes damp walls. Home owners often try to cure this by waterproofing the outside of walls. This blocks the escape route for the rising damp causing it to be concentrated in the interior. So just use old fashioned 'cal' on the ouside and keep interior WELL VENTILATED. Almost impossible to fit damp course on old stone house, but there are electrical sustems which do work after inside has been stripped and re-rendered to remove water attracting salts. Good luck
 

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Another option if you are getting rain penetration is to fit corrugated iron (or other metal or even plastic) siding to provide a waterproof barrier. The fact that it is corrugated allows the wall behind it to breathe.
 

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This is a very interesting post as we have just had to drive back to our house in Spain because we had mould everywhere in the house, every wall up to the windows was covered in it, all the beds and furniture, everything in the cupboards and drawers . We had a friend looking in our house every week and he told us that one week all was okay and the following week it looked like we'd had a flood. We had a Spanish builder in to look and he told us it had happened because we didn't have any ventilation ( airbricks ) in the walls and that because of the very humid conditions just recently, this had happened. The insurance people don't want to know because they say they don't pay out for mould unless it can be proved to be from a leak, which they've already searched for and can't find. We now have to come up with a solution to make sure that this doesn't happen again, so it was quite interesting to read these posts.
 
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