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Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 04:49 PM   #1
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Vinyl flooring

So my daughter has now been diagnosed with probable (can't tell for sure until she's older) asthma and/or dust allergies.* She's been coughing/runny nose for months now.* * So we are beginnning the process of making our house asthma friendly.* We bought a 99.97% HEPA air filter for her room (extra huge capacity so we can run it on low) and we are going to tear up the carpet in her room and install vinyl flooring.* This is similar to what we bought:

http://www.armstrong.com/resflram/na...itemId=89971.0

They are really coming a long way with this, I'd like to rip up the whole house (after all, she doesn't just live in her room) but DW points out we can't really afford to get the wood/laminate floors we want just yet.* Anyone buy the wood look-alike vinyl flooring and like it?* Hate it?

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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 05:10 PM   #2
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Re: Vinyl flooring

I've got old vinyl flooring that is wood-looking in my kitchen and dining room - it came with the house and judging from the condition is circa 1972. It ain't pretty, but it doesn't cost anything. It is dark brown. Not too pretty. It is peeling up at the edges where the cats chew it sometimes. I also ripped a whole in it when I moved the pantry to clean up the cat's spilt water (I hate my cats ).
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 05:47 PM   #3
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Laurence,

Are you handy at all? I swear that the majority of cost in remodeling is in the labor. Places like Home Depot do seminars on how to do it yourself.

Your daughter looks like such a cutie pie. I really enjoy the pictures you post of her.

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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 06:22 PM   #4
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Re: Vinyl flooring

I'm handy-ish (installed tile in a small bathroom etc.). I'm going to install the vinyl myself in her bedroom, already bought the material, but just curious if anyone had done a main area in the stuff. She's definitely worth the effort!
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 06:45 PM   #5
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Re: Vinyl flooring

My wife and kids have/had trouble in our house. It was all shag carpet. I ripped it up and put a 3/8" engineered board down (mine has a sticky back). It is a middle ground between pergo and true 3/4" solid board. It helps a lot. Also consider the allergy covers on the beds and pillows.
No opinion on the vinyl flooring although i think the installation would be easy enough. The dirtest part as you might expect is carpet/pad/staple/(double nail gizmos at the walls) removal.

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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 07:08 PM   #6
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Re: Vinyl flooring

L -
Have you looked at the laminate stuff that you install like T & G wood flooring? I haven't put it in, but I know some less-than-handy people who have done it successfully. Those 12x12 vinyl tiles are a bear if you do a less than perfect job, dirt gets in between them, and they pop up.... if it's just temporary until you can do wood, I wouldn't worry but it is a lot of work for a temporary solution.

Also, the biggest thing for allergy issues is forced air heating - blowing allergens around the house. Big expense to change, too, unfortunately! Underfloor heating is great for allergies and for toasty feet - can't remember if you're in a climate where that's an issue??

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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 07:29 PM   #7
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Alas, forced heat system, I'm getting quotes for cleaning them now. I live in San Diego, but don't believe the hype, you need heat 3 months of the year (think cold desert nights).

We have closed the vent and will soon seal the vent in her room, best we can do on a budget. I will hold off on the rest of the house until I can afford a pergo/laminate, sounds like the vinyl will look bad in short order and DW will put my head on a spit if that happens!
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 08:00 PM   #8
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Ours is vinyl and we love it. It's about 4 years old and most people assume it's wood unless we tell them otherwise or they reach down to touch it.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 08:22 PM   #9
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Re: Vinyl flooring

I have plood pergo and I HATE it with a passion. The pros are: it's a fairly easy install, easy to clean and doesn't scratch as easily as hardwood floors. The cons: You don't want it anywhere near your kitchen or bathroom. The quarter rounds (baseboard mate) are poorly designed. You can't wrap the quarter rounds in a delicate fashion. So you're left with chopped edges where the wall ends. It's ugly, IMHO. I look at it and cringe on daily basis. I wonder why I do things like this to torture myself...
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 09:29 PM   #10
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
So my daughter has now been diagnosed with probable (can't tell for sure until she's older) asthma and/or dust allergies.* She's been coughing/runny nose for months now.* *
I developed asthma at age 8... that marked the end of my soccer days, and the beginning of my swimming days. While it sucks to have asthma, she is growing up in a much better era- the drugs now allow me to even forget I have it sometimes. Make sure you check out pillow and mattress covers, they work really well to keep the dust mites down.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-04-2006, 10:51 PM   #11
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat
So you're left with chopped edges where the wall ends.* It's ugly, IMHO.* I look at it and cringe on daily basis.* *I wonder why I do things like this to torture myself...
You don't need to stick with the pergo baseboard stuff. Get hardwood quarter-round, miter the corners, and it should look great. Places like home depot might have what you need, depending on the type of "wood" you went with for the floor.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 05:06 AM   #12
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Re: Vinyl flooring

One thing to consider with "sealing" her room and running a Hepa filter is to make sure it has the right humidity level (not too dry or damp). Pretty cheap to remedy if gets too dry.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 10:47 AM   #13
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
So my daughter has now been diagnosed with probable (can't tell for sure until she's older) asthma and/or dust allergies.*
Years ago a skin scratch test used to detect pollen, dust, & dust mite allergies, but I don't know what's suitable to use on a toddler.

We've purchased dust-mite-proof mattress & pillow covers from Allergy Asthma Tech. They seem to have a pretty robust product line.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 11:53 AM   #14
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Re: Vinyl flooring

My wife has asthma and does respiratory work at the hospital. Heres what we know. By the way, there is a lot of anecdotal "evidence", funny stats and studies, and some things work for some people and not others. Further, sometimes people feel something works for them when it really doesnt. A case in point...theres a particular air purifier thats very expensive and has been shown to do absolutely nothing to clean the air, but people who buy them will hunt you down and kill you if you say the product is ineffective because it has "changed their life". So on with the controversy...

My wife had been taking the range of "old school" asthma drugs because thats what the doctor and insurance company wanted her to take. She changed two years ago to advair and since then despite three dogs, three cats, and wall to wall that usually needs vacuuming, she has almost no symptoms. Bearing in mind she was good for 2-3 trips to the emergency room per year up until then, and suffered with it since she was a small child.

The basics are simple: stop allergens from entering the home, remove them if plausible, stop them from coming near the baby's nose, clean the baby's nose a couple of times a day to remove allergens, use decent meds to mitigate the allergies/asthma that remains...a lot of people do the meds and throw in an air filter and figure they're doing great...

Air purifiers are all well and good, but the majority of them dont do much, they arent localized enough (in other words, you dont wear them under your nose), they suck down a lot of electricity, and there are few businesses with as much funny business going on. Some advertise a 'filter that removes 99.99%' when in fact the filter does so, installed in the air cleaner with gaps around the filter, its more like 65 or 75%. Further, you have to get the dirt to the air filter. We have used some of the hamilton beach units with the UV light. They're inexpensive, the filters last forever (4 years later we still havent done more than take the prefilters outside and vacuumed them), and the UV light allegedly destroys mold spores and some bacteria, a claim which seemed to be borne out when my wifes allergies improved after 30 days of continuous use...the time period it takes for the unit to destroy enough mold spores to affect the dust mite population (dust mites primarily eat mold spores).

Duct cleaning has been shown over and over again to be nearly worthless. Its a snake oil treatment. Think twice about those "furnace air filters". There isnt much outside of the filter manufacturers but I did see a couple of HVAC guys who published their own evaluations on their web sites. Basically the furnace doesnt run long enough to effectively filter the air, there are gaps around the filter and in the unit that allow unfiltered air through, and either your furnace fan will kick into a higher gear to overcome the higher air resistance or the temps in the furnace may increase to the point where the heat exchanger cracks. Happened to me with a 5 year old furnace in my old mcmansion and the heating repair guy fingered the filter. Even the higher flow filtretes put a huge drag on the air flow. The fan kicking into high gear isnt a lot of fun either, mine uses 500+ watts on the regular setting and jumps to 800+ on the higher setting.

Dont go for the "money=performance" either. Most of the "whole house filtration" units sold through specialty allergy sites for $600-1000 are middling performers with very expensive filtration units.

What does work:

- Get the best meds available. According to my wife advair is the best for moderate to severe asthma, although you have to inhale a powder from a dispensing disk. She says some small kids and older folks cant figure out how to use it...they try blowing into it or sucking on it. Your friendly doctor may also try to follow insurance guidelines and give you singulair or theophylline as they're cheaper "old school" drugs.

- Get a prescription for a nebulizer and the drugs required to administer a breathing treatment. Its a small device with a mask, you put the albuterol or xopenex (newer) or pulmocort into it, put the mask on her face and after a few minutes this will alleviate a minor to moderate attack and avoid a trip to the emergency room.

- Change bedding regularly. The pillow and mattress covers are fine but you might want to spend some time and money looking into allergen resistant bedding. Some latex mattresses, pillows and some memory foam products are highly allergen resistant. There are a number of outfits that sell online and over ebay that sell these products at discount, so you can "roll your own" allergy proof bed vs spending a couple of grand on one.

- Carpet can be problematic, but so can hard floors. If you dont vacuum nearly every day, a carpet may hold onto dust and other allergens and prevent them from becoming airborn a lot better than a hard floor. On the other hand, if you have mostly hard floors something like a Roomba can be used to pick up most of the crud on a daily basis. Once a carpets been down a long time though, its gonna be an allergy problem. Consider a berber or other low/no pile carpet, go inexpensive and anti-allergen if available, make sure the pad is a low VOC sealed pad, not one of the cheap ones that powders, and change the carpet every 4-5 years tops.

- The laminate stuff goes down pretty easy once you get the hang of it. You'll spend the first two hours or so cursing and then you'll have it down and it'll go down pretty quick. I'd give specific advice but every product is a little different. My father in law is a retired flooring guy and i've done some of it with no problems, so if you have questions or get in trouble, let me know.

- Humidity can be your biggest problem. Humidity levels over 40-45% can cause mold growth and all sorts of other problems. Keeping the humidity level around 40% reduces mold spread and can improve breathing quality.

- Allergens stick to hair best of all. If she's been outdoors or playing on the floor, wash her hair. Some people have had dramatic improvements in allergy and asthma related conditions simply by washing their hair twice a day. Consider someone who uses a sticky hair "product", collects allergens all day, lays their head on thei pillow and over the course of the next couple of hours wipes the allergens off the pillow and then sticks their nose in it.

- Nasal "irrigators" are a no-drug option that can work wonders. From a simple rubber bulb filled with saline to a thing that looks like a waterpik (and you can get an attachment for a waterpik you already have) that clears the nasal passages. Just tipping your head sideways in the shower and using your hand to direct a little water and spray into your nostrils and then blowing can remove a lot of the collected allergens from your schnoz. Tough to administer to a baby or small child though. I have moderate allergies and clearing the nose in the shower and rinsing my hair before I go to bed during allergy season completely eliminates most of my symptoms.

Chasing the dust monster can really be a red herring unfortunately. Its almost impossible in a house full of VOC emitting products, cracks and seams to keep a highly "clean" environment.

Any other questions, ask away...between my wife, my mother in law who is a charge nurse and took care of my wife all her life, and our collected experiences in trying to improve her condition...we should have plenty of answers.

Edit: on filters that might help a little bit at a low cost, I have seen but not tried a "poor mans" air filter. Get a 20" energy star box fan that has the switch and electric cords on the top/bottom/sides (not in the middle of the front or the back) and duct tape a 20" filtrete filter to the intake side. Turn on. This will process as much air as your furnace, continuously, and at a very low cost. With as much or better efficiency as air "purifiers" that cost 20x as much. Dont expect a huge improvement from air filtration though...
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 01:02 PM   #15
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Wow, awesome post, (), thanks! We have the nebulizer now with pulmicort and albuterol for her attacks, it's saved us from one er trip already.

Thanks for saving me the $500 bucks on the air duct cleaning, we were about to schedule the appointment for this weekend.

We have the saline nose bulb thingy, I guess we should use that more often.

So the air filters are pretty much worthless? Like you said, I have relatives who swear by them. We placed the one we bought next to her crib and have it running on low 24/7 now - consumer reports rated it in the top third of those reviewed, stating it did remove the spores/dust/etc as advertised. Eh, it was only $149 on sale at Target, so I'm not out too much. We've noticed that she coughs less and it's a dryer/healthier sounding cough when she does, but we had also removed the humidifier (we had bad info there and were running it too much, when she actually need lower humidity!).

Any recommendations on device to check humidity level?

The flooring change out is a thumbs up then, yes? I can rag down her floor every day to pick up the crud.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 01:25 PM   #16
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Re: Vinyl flooring

The problem with air duct cleaning is twofold. For starters what you're trying to fix is damp dust that has mold growing on it and dust mites eating the mold spores. Fan goes on, mold spores and dust mites are distributed. Most vents dont have a ****load of collected dust in them, and the second part of the problem is that the cleaning process either doesnt remove it at all or enough of it. Most current ducts are flexible and have a lot of nooks and crannys that resist cleaning. And then it restarts right away and you're back to your original problem a few weeks or months later. If you control the humidity, you keep the mold from growing in the ducts in the first place. Not to mention the SOB's often rip or knock loose a duct while they're cleaning it.

If forced air heating really is bugging you, shut off the air register in her room and use an oil filled radiator coupled with a ceiling fan to warm the room.

I cant stress the nasal irrigation enough. If you have allergies, try it yourself in the shower for a few days and you'll be amazed by the improvement. Its probably the best and most critical thing to do if you have breathing problems exacerbated by dust or other allergens.

If you have the filtration unit blowing directly at her, at least she's getting some benefit. A ceiling fan on low can also help circulate air in the room and bring more allergens into contact with the filtration unit. I put a small energy star ceiling fan in gabes nursery to keep the air flowing; make sure you get one labeled for energy star - they use 1/10th the juice of a non-ES model but the industry has a little problem with a backlog of inventory of non-ES units they're trying to dump before people figure out that an ES one uses about 12-15 watts on low while a non-ES one can use 80-150 watts or more.

We have a bunch of digital thermostat/humidity gauges. One has a little remote sensor on the end of an 8' wire. I have the sesor feeding into the nursery and keep the main unit in our bedroom; that way I can check on the temp and humidity in his room without opening the door and waking him up.

For peace of mind, you might also consider trying the angelcare monitor we've been using since gabe was born. Its a baby monitor with a small pad that goes under the crib mattress. The pad monitors movement and is sensitive enough to detect breathing. If it doesnt detect movement for 20 seconds it sounds an alarm. I paid ~90 bucks for one with two remotes, its about $70 with a single remote and i've seen them on clearance from time to time for under 40. Turn the sensitivity up to maximum to avoid false alarms. Make sure you dont have any funny combos like a crib mobile and a ceiling fan...after I added the ceiling fan I took him out of the crib to diaper him once and then realized I had the monitor on and he'd been out of the crib for a couple of minutes and it hadnt gone off...then I noticed the toys on the mobile were being moved gently by the fan and that was enough motion to keep the monitor happy.

As far as dehumidifiers go, check sears for sales. They're almost always closing one out and theirs are decent. Big energy suckers though, they're like running an old window air conditioner, because thats pretty much what they are and they're tuned to be inefficient so as to condense and remove as much water as possible from the air. I bought one about the size of one of those little college dorm cube refrigerators for under $200. I run it 2-3 times a week for 4-5 hours during the damp season and that does the trick. Put it near the air intake on your furnace, that'll give it a good shot at seeing a lot of air circulated near it. Also put it in your bathroom for a few hours a week to dry that out, hot showers are probably one of your biggest sources of moisture...use the vent fan if you have one when the shower is on.

As far as purifiers and people who swear by them...well, some work ok, some dont. Most of them rate their purification percent as a function of the filter element and not the whole unit. Most of the room size/cubic feet efficiency levels are with the fan on high...you know, where it sounds like a jet engine just crashed into a cheap motels air conditioning unit? With the unit on low and without a fully sealed system...its only somewhat helpful. But since you're shooshing the cleaner air right at her, it should be better than nothing. I'm of the opinion that a lot of this stuff is highly psychosomatic. You spend $800 on an IQAIR or BLUEAIR unit and you feel better because you think you do.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 01:58 PM   #17
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Re: Vinyl flooring

Lawrence there are several devices out there to check the humidity levels, my dad gave my dh a unit that remotely gives the outside temp, inside temp and humidity reading. They are relatively inexpensive.
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 01:59 PM   #18
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Re: Vinyl flooring

O.K., this mostly jives with what I've found so far. *We've got a ceiling fan installed, I'll run it on low, get the carpet out, seal the duct/vent off in her room, do the saline nose irrigation, and use the air duct cleaning money for a radiator. *We'll leave it at that for a month and see if she improves. *Thanks for all the input, (). *

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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 02:04 PM   #19
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Re: Vinyl flooring

I hope you know I had to change the batteries in my wireless keyboard halfway through that, and the wife looked at my gigantic 32" monitor and said "who's been writing a book?"...

glad to have helped, I imagine you'll see some good improvements. We've been keeping an eye and ear on gabe as he very well might develop allergies and/or asthma given our problems with it. Since going to the advair, my wife says she feels perfectly normal and suffers very few effects...so the good news is modern medicine and a few tweaks here and there can solve this very effectively.

I was reminded through this writing of the time she worked all day in the yard, came in and flopped in bed. Has a cat laying on her pillow on the top of her head and a dog laying tucked up under her arm. Grass clippings and other whatnots in her hair. "Turn on the air purifier, willya, i'm getting a little sniffly"..."GEE...YA THINK?"
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Re: Vinyl flooring
Old 01-05-2006, 07:25 PM   #20
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Re: Vinyl flooring

One last thing. Check to see if your air purifier has an electrostatic option that can be turned on or off. Some purifiers use a washable electrostatic 'element' as their primary or secondary filtration tool. A charge is put into a metal grid which causes particles (especially smoke) to stick to it. Some of these work great (the friedrich often tops ratings), others dont (like the sharper image ones). The big problem, especially with asthmatics, is that most of them give off ozone, some give off a lot. Ozone is one of the worst irritants for an asthmatic. We have a lot of ozone in the air up this way already; not sure what you're getting down in SD, but last I checked the air pollution down that way was fairly substantial.

So if your filter has an option button or switch for the eletrostatic option, turn it off. Moving to an area with clean air and reduced irritants might also be helpful.
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