Friday, June 15, 2012

Mold Again

Summer is here, and our mold problem is back.  Most people in Germany experience more mold problems in winter, when one's apartment is closed up for more of the day.  Not us.  Our problem is not only lack of ventilation (which is a problem year-round for us due to the layout of our apartment) but the obscene humidity levels in Heidelberg's valley.  Multiple times we've come back to a summer evening in Heidelberg from a day trip and been shocked by the humidity. As we near the river we can feel this veil of moisture all over us.  Our apartment lies within that veil.  It's so. freaking. humid.  All things being equal, it would probably be wise to move, but we do like the location convenience-wise, and it's extremely expensive to move (2.5 months' rent to the Makler, then there's the security deposit and the cost of moving itself, plus usually the cost of buying a kitchen since we don't own one, etc etc etc).  Anyway...since we can't move, it's a freaking constant battle with mold.

We got a dehumidifer to help with the bedroom humidity (the worst room, though no one has found the cause) and the humidifer molded inside.  This week I removed the floorboards on one side of the apartment to vacuum out some dust, and discovered - of course - more freaking mold.  This isn't even a wall with windows.  Which brings me to the German anti-mold rules which I find so annoying to live with.

Directions for airing out your apartment.
Our ventilation options: not as pretty as in the instructions.
1. Thou shalt air out your apartment year round multiple times per day by opening every single window wide. This allows us to replace the humid air inside our apartment with humid air from outside the apartment. Oh-so-effective.  Since we cannot get a cross-breeze in our apartment due to the only two windows being on the same side, the only way to get somewhat slight ventilation is to open both windows and the apartment door and the door in the hallway that leads to the stairwell.  And then be deathly quiet because everyone in the building can hear every sound we make echoing through the stairwell. Boo.  Even then the ventilation is not great since our terrace (outside our windows) also doesn't have good air circulation.

2. Thou shalt not put anything at all against any wall that has a window in it.  When you have a tiny apartment it's a real pain in the ass to have a entire wall unusable for furniture or storage.  Or I guess for those of you with windows all around, all your walls are unusable.  Or are these just rules they tell idiot foreigners?

3. Thou shalt not kip your windows.  If you do, moisture collects in weird places around the window and mold grows.  Why do windows have a kip feature if you're not supposed to use it? Although the airing-out instructions I show here say kipping works, we have been personally advised not to do it by the Hausverwaltung.

4. Thou shalt constantly check every crevice of your apartment to stop the mold that is inevitably going to grow anyway despite taking all the above steps.  The ceilings. The sills. Behind every piece of furniture.  Under the floorboards.  Hell, it might be slowly destroying your health to not tear off the wallpaper and flooring every single year, because it's probably under there too.

5. Thou shalt be blamed if you have mold.  It's not the fault of the building you live in or where it is.  It's your fault for not keeping it dry enough inside.

My apartment's all torn up the moment trying to deal with said under-floorboard mold. I can only do one wall at a time because there's nowhere to put the furniture if I have to pull it away from all of them at once. It's growing on the wallpaper behind the floorboards.  I plan to add some anti-mold protection crap (whatever sick chemical that is), but really, it's just going to come back as long as we have wallpaper.  Which makes me wonder: why isn't there a no-wallpaper rule?  Isn't that just begging for mold, too?  Yet nearly every German apartment is covered in this standard-issue bumpy wallpaper.

Damn you, mold!


  1. Given that your topic is mold, did you go with the green and black drop cap to bolster the theme?

  2. I sprayed bleach on my mold and it went away. Of course, that only works on an already-white wall.

    I think those rules are silly as well.

  3. Yuck - I hate it when anything goes wrong with property in Germany - it's always so much more of a military operation getting it sorted!

    By the way, I've nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award - I hope that's OK.

  4. The diagrams made me laugh so hard, my Oma had her own superstitions on airing out a room. Never sit in the durch zuch or your ears will hurt.


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