My Anxiety About Moving Into a 120-Year Old House

My asthma is well-controlled. What does that mean? It means that I don't require steroids except for when I'm sick or the season change really disrupts my respiratory system. I maybe only have 1 attack per year if that. It is usually due to the change in seasons (whether we’ve immediately gone from summer to winter or vice versa). So, when I know some sort of activity is on the horizon that might shake the foundation that is my stable condition, I get a little anxious.

Our new old house

My husband and I recently bought a house. Woohoo! I know, right? It’s really exciting! It’s something I never thought I would be able to do in life, but here we are. It’s currently a seller’s market, with a lack of inventory. The only reason we snagged this house without competition is that our realtor showed it to us before it was listed. We don’t plan to move in until about a month after we close because there is 1 major thing I can’t handle: the old carpet.

The house was built in approximately 1900, but maybe sooner. I’d have to do some extra research at the public library to find out any additional details. But, our inspection went surprisingly well all things considered. My biggest concern when moving, whether it be renting or buying, is mold. We once rented a place that had a mold problem and we wound up taking our landlord to court to get out of the lease. My asthma was so bad there – if I didn't turn on our air purifier in the bedroom, I'd need to use my rescue inhaler at bedtime. Every night. That's not good!

Gross 20-year old carpet

The second and third floor (think: old Philadelphia rowhomes) and winding stairs are completely covered in high-pile, brown carpet. The sellers bought this house in 2004 and completely remodeled the first floor about a year ago. But if you take a look at the listings on websites like Zillow or Redfin, you’ll see the 2004 listing. And guess what? This carpet is in those pictures. I’m estimating those carpets are 20+ years old.

More on this topic

Since then, I know that the sellers rented out this house on/off for years. Who knows what pets came in and out of there, how much they did not vacuum or shampoo the carpets... So, you might say I’m a little concerned about my asthma and allergies. Dust mites are my worst allergen alongside animal dander and seasonal pollen.

My allergist's advice

During my last allergy shot appointment, I told them that my next site reaction might be larger than usual because we plan to rip up old carpets in our future home the week of. The nurse instructed me to take 2 antihistamines (instead of my typical 1) that day, to wear 2 masks, and goggles. I asked my husband if he thinks we should just avoid the potential allergic/asthma reaction and pay someone to rip up our carpet. He seems to think I will be fine following my doctor’s instructions. I’d like to save some money, so I’m interested in moving forward doing it ourselves vs. hiring someone else.

I will keep you posted on how it all works out. Fingers crossed!

How about you? Have you moved into an older-than-usual place, and worried about the health consequences? What types of preventive measures did you take?

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