Ty Pennington (left) of the ABC television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” greets Carrie Powell and her two sons, Chris and Keenan, after the show’s design team renovated the family’s home.
ARLETA, Calif. - Carrie Powell was at her wits' end. Her son, Keenan, had been suffering from a combination of a rare cell disorder, asthma, and other allergies. All these conditions were made worse by the mold and dust in their Southern California home. Powell lost her job because she spent so much time caring for her 16-year-old son. The burden of constantly fixing up her home was becoming too much for her to bear.

Thanks to the urging of Powell's other son (Chris, 25, who also lives with his mother and brother), the Powells sent a letter to executives at ABC TV, producers of the hit prime time show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." ABC agreed to do a makeover of the home in early April.

Seven days later, the house was totally transformed. The entire project was filmed for an episode that aired on May 16.

The task was completed in one week, while the family took a paid vacation to New York City. Remediating the mold problem set the schedule back about a day, but the designers, contractors, and 100 workers were able to complete the project.

"It was a real experience - I lost 10 pounds," joked Dan Galli of Galli & Sons, Sherman Oaks, the general contractor hired for the job.

Pictured above is the residence before the renovation. Below is the home after the makeover.

Ups And Downs

"He [Keenan] was diagnosed with a cell disorder when he was three months old," Powell toldThe News. "He also had chronic asthma and allergies - really getting sick at six months." In fact, Powell said doctors had told her Keenan wouldn't live to see his first birthday.

"We had to get rid of a lot of the dust catchers, like carpeting," she said. "We had to get rid of our swamp cooler [evaporative cooler] and add central air conditioning and heating. But I found I was changing the filter every month because of all of the dust.

"Once we added air conditioning, things got a little better for Keenan," she continued. "But the earthquake in '94 probably caused structural damage, and El Niño storms in '99 caused roof damage. We put a new roof on and drywalled, but we didn't dry the house out first. So the mold started to grow.

"We had no clue about how to deal with mold," Powell said. "We kept cleaning it, and it kept coming back. The new roof exacerbated the problem. The air conditioning unit on the roof was riddled with mold."

Enter The Contractor

Paul Andrews, owner of Custom Aire in North Hollywood, was the HVAC contractor hired by Galli & Sons. Andrews said he cleaned the one-year-old Carrier unit and installed more ductwork for a new addition.

"I added a Space-Gard [Aprilaire] filter and tuned up the condensing unit, too," said Andrews. The original plan was to install a new condensing unit but things changed at the last minute, putting Andrews in a bind.

"Four of us went over on a Saturday night and took some stock materials I had in my garage because no supply houses were open," he said. "We had to move some existing registers, too. But the existing ductwork was in pretty good shape.

"I talked ABC into installing the filter because the show was based on this poor kid's health problems. And now I am on a yearly maintenance program with the Powells." The manufacturer recommends annual media re-placement for the filter. It was purchased from ACH Supply in nearby Sun Valley, "a very good, new supplier," Andrews said.

Powell acknowledged that she had her HVAC system serviced just once in the four years after it was installed.

"I did not know about the normal maintenance," she said. "I just assumed that if I changed the filter that was all I was supposed to do." She said Andrews talked to her about the new filter and how to service it.

The Powells expect to breathe a lot easier now, thanks to the filtration and the home being free from mold. The subject is so important, the show's producers felt they should dedicate an entire Extreme Makeover episode to do it justice.

"This is a story that we were willing to deal with because we felt it was important to do," said executive producer Craig Armstrong. "Mold is a real issue and it was worth talking about it."

Each day Powell looks forward to waking up in a dramatically changed home, one with a more wide-open, airy feel, including an indoor basketball court where the garage once stood.

On the day the Powells came home, they got an extra surprise: Members of the Harlem Globetrotters were there to greet them. Some of the Trotters actually helped

with the home's finishing touches and put on an impromptu basketball clinic for the Powell family and the staff of the show.

It has been quite an experience for everyone involved.

"We often just smell the air because it is so fresh," Powell said. Keenan's breathing "sounds much better. He hasn't had an asthma attack and is not wheezing anymore.

"The house is really beautiful and our neighbors have been very supportive."

For more information on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," including additional pictures and information about the Powell family, visit www.abc.com.

Publication date: 06/14/2004