delight: (don't want to talk about reasons)
[personal profile] delight posting in [community profile] homeeconomics101
In May, my boyfriend of 5 years and I moved into an absolutely lovely basement apartment. As far as we could tell, its only issue was a bathtub that tends not to drain right. And that's really all we noticed until the end of July – when things started smelling a bit off.

And wet.

And growing mold.

At this point, our bedroom constantly reeks of mildew and yet we cannot find a source of it anywhere. As someone with chronic sinus problems I had taken to really enjoying how humid the apartment was, since for the first time in someplace I lived I didn't constantly have to keep a humidifier running to be able to breathe. But now even I can smell the mildew. The humidity is overbearing and we've had to throw away clothing because mold grew it out of thin air – not there one day, look at the shirt a day later and there's mold on it!

This is a giant disaster not just because it's ruining our things, but because we both have chronic illnesses and I have quite a few severe allergies. And at this point even I with my usual inability to smell much of anything can tell it's mildewy in the air. Both sets of parents cavalierly tell us to buy a dehumidifier (my mother says it is an emergency but doesn't offer us any money, all the others say 'save up for one' as if we can wait 6 months). Neither set of parents actually tries to help purchase a dehumidifier, though at least on my parents' end it's entirely understandable considering how they pay my share of rent (I'm a full-time student) and are trying to deal with high amounts of medical bills for my mother's cancer treatment and a surgery I recently had that they were gracious enough to (somehow) pay for.

I get $1100 a month, fixed income. Period. My share of rent is $400. I have to pay for a land line, electricity, internet service and cell phones, because my boyfriend's income is so meager that he has a job interview tomorrow he's not going to be able to get to if we don't somehow scrounge up extra funds for gas, since my bank account might have $30 in it if I'm lucky. (Money for me comes at the first of the month.)

So: we need to dehumidify this apartment fast, and commercial dehumidifiers are probably not going to do the trick, since we can't find anything even remotely affordable. I cannot spare $200. My credit card needs to be paid off and is maxed out (at $250, after identity theft) so buying on credit is not an option. Buying a humidifier seems to not be an option at all. I've checked craigslist and freecycle.

I am totally out of options. Boyfriend can't even pay his half of rent this month and I was already in hysterics over that.

If anyone has any kind of advice about anything relating to being able to get rid of it all without having to go hungry for a month, I would really appreciate it.

Date: 2011-08-28 10:47 pm (UTC)
greenwitch: Tea (tea)
From: [personal profile] greenwitch
If you're in an apartment, is there a building manager you could speak to? Something like that is definitely the landlord's responsibility.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:01 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: A guy looking ridiculous by doing a fashionable posing with a mouse, slinging the cord over his shoulders. (geek)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
Agreed on this one. The landlord should, at the very least, have a sense of self preservation about their own property, since those kind of conditions can cause damage.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:27 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: A wee rat holds a paw to its mouth. Oh, the shock! (myword)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
You're right--the landlord might not care. But on the off chance that they do, you'll be ahead, I think, and your back is against the wall.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:49 pm (UTC)
zillah975: Painting of my Night Elf, Tyrnathera Stormcaller (Default)
From: [personal profile] zillah975
*nodsnods* Good - the landlord definitely needs to know. Mold is a HUGE issue, and if he's getting a mold problem, if he has the slightest sense at all he'll want to take care of it immediately.

Date: 2011-08-29 12:11 am (UTC)
red_eft: Spoiler crawls back onto a train (you fall off you get back on)
From: [personal profile] red_eft
I'm fairly sure it's a landlord's legal responsibility to be sure a place is safe and habitable. Mold isn't safe, ergo, landlord has a responsibility to do something about it, imo. If your landlord doesn't seem to care, research what the landlord-tenant laws are in your area. Obviously, just because it's the law doesn't mean he'll do it, but it will give you a little more leverage to entice him to act.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:02 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: Fox stealing an egg. (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
If you have any kinds of fans and windows or doors, try to keep them open and circulate as much air as possible. If there's a fan bathroom, keep it on all the time.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:06 pm (UTC)
angel_negra: Duckling having a bad day. (Crap)
From: [personal profile] angel_negra
Chiming in to third the building manager. Especially with the bathtub not draining properly, And with the mould situation being that extreme, not only could it spread to other suites, but there's a chance that it might be the pipes themselves. That happened at my apartment once, where leaking pipes from my upstairs neighbour was turning into water damage that would have potentially ruined my ceiling.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:19 pm (UTC)
anatsuno: close-up of Sylar (unrecognizable) lying dead on the floor, a cockroach in the foreground (death warmed over)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
I have ABSOLUTELY no expertise, so maybe use those as google-ideas more than anything else, but:

- I know that ginger, lavender & lemongrass all have anti-bacterial properties, with ginger have extre anti-fungal properties. I would THINK that a dilution of ginger & lavende essential oil into water in a spray bottle can become a house spray that helps killing molds.. but that's not a drying solution. :(

- Baking soda tends to absorbs humidity a lot; I would probably spill a lot of it on the floor and hope that helps dry up the atmosphere, though that is a bit messy (but then I've done more messy things in dire circumstances like that).

I hope you can find solutions! And I definitely second pagnig the uilding manager and/or landlord.

Date: 2011-08-28 11:59 pm (UTC)
takemyrevolution: take what you want and pay for it says god (Andrew housewife)
From: [personal profile] takemyrevolution
I second [personal profile] anatsuno's suggestion of baking soda. It absorbs odours and it's cheap. I recommend putting it absolutely everywhere.

Also, try eucalyptus oil. It's stronger smelling than lavender, and it's antibacterial. I clean with it all the time. It always freshens things up. I think I pay about $5 a bottle for mine, but a little goes a long way.

Date: 2011-08-29 12:42 am (UTC)
majoline: picture of Majoline, mother of Bon Mucho in Loco Roco 2 (Default)
From: [personal profile] majoline
Um, if it's not terribly expensive where you live and you don't have any pets, you should be able to get a huge tub of a chemical dehumidifier at a hardware store/big box pool section.

Date: 2011-08-29 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] couchemal
If you can't find it, the source is probably behind a wall where you can't reach it.

To get rid of the mold you CAN see, I'd try some of these methods:

Be sure and check out the links on the sidebar. Sealing everything is a good idea but since you don't own your place you could get in trouble for caulking without permission.

If you have any windows at all, a good method to get rid of smells is to open a window, then open another window across from it (or as far away as you can) and set up a fan in one of them pointing OUTSIDE. It'll set up a crossdraw that pulls clean air through your apartment.

Regarding mold growing on yout stuff, can you get someone to keep the majority of your things somewhere else until you get this problem solved? At least that way your things won't be ruined while you wait to get this fixed. Leather can be ruined forever so I'd at least move any nice shoes or coats to somebody else's house.

Date: 2011-08-29 03:24 am (UTC)
spaceoperadiva: little jellical cat in a sink (Default)
From: [personal profile] spaceoperadiva
It's totally whacked at this time of year, but turn on the heater and try baking the humidity out. It's a temporary solution at best and not one you can do while you're home in August. If you can go out for a few hours and leave the heat on, when you get back you can open the windows and get the temp back to liveable.

Good luck with the landlord. I think that's your best hope.


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