Mold: The Neverending Battle

[Taylor]

The picture above is a snapshot I took a few minutes ago from our kitchen window.  I know.  Gross, right?  Well the macro setting on the camera exaggerates our problem but the fact remains that we have mold to deal with in the apartment.  How did this happen?  We woke up one morning and found condensation on the window.  We wiped up the water and a few days later mold appeared.

Japan is a humid place, even in Aomori-ken.  In Oregon it probably would have been sufficient to just wipe up the moisture.  We should have gone the extra mile in our kitchen by cracking the window open for ventilation and dropping a moisture absorbing packet on the sill for good measure.

We have since become more proactive in the war on mold and have deployed the following resources to combat the problem.

Moisture Absorption Packets

In the battle of mold prevention, these packets represent our infantry.  We’ve deployed them everywhere in the apartment.  They can be found in our closets, drawers, window sills, living room, kitchen, and even the space between our mattress and bedframe.  This particular packet helps suck in moisture from our clothes as they hang to dry in our closet.

Leaving the windows open as long as possible

This is pretty self-explanatory.  Fresh air is good for your lungs as well as your furniture.

Dehumidifier

In winter we won’t be able to open the windows as much.  In fact we will have afixed a screen of bubblewrap to them to insulate against the cold.  Expect a post on winterizing the apartment in a month and a half or so.  Anyway, the dehumidifier removes moisture all by itself.  All we have to do is feed it electricity.  As you may expect, this produces a great deal of heat.  Now do you see why this will be so effective in the winter?  It should be particularly effective at helping dry our clothes after the wash cycle finishes.

What happens if you don’t do anything to prevent mold?

As a matter of fact, I found out exactly what happens today.  A vacant apartment in our complex had a few spare space heaters and I asked the school if we could have them.  They said ‘sure’ but had two maintenance people come by because the heaters were directly connected to a gasline.  When they arrived I met them down in the vacant apartment and I could not believe my eyes.  Mold had taken over the apartment.  The floor was covered in white fur arranged in rectangular formations in every room.  Green and white dots lined the ceiling.  Wooden closets and their floors were stained black.  Objects and furniture left behind were now completely unusable.  Needless to say we left as soon as we snagged the heaters.

I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault that the mold took control.  It would be hard to imagine something like that happening, especially in Northern Japan.  But it did.  Would leaving the windows open have prevented the infiltration?  Something tells me it wouldn’t have been enough.

How are they going to clean it up?  I have no idea.

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3 Responses to “Mold: The Neverending Battle”

  1. Nick Says:

    The thing about mold is that you have to actually REMOVE the mold. And this is a delicate process because most people, while trying to clean or kill the mold, are actually disturbing it and spreading the spores all over the house. That’s why it seems to be never-ending. I highly recommend using only certified mold technicians because they have the knowledge, expertise and equipment to actually handle it permanently.

  2. Jamie Sensei Says:

    Hi Taylor/Julie. I was the Noheji ALT from 2003-2006 and I believe I must have lived in the apartment you are describing here. I had to laugh upon reading about how the mold has taken over. I knew it was just a matter of time, and I’m glad I got out of there before it took over me! It was a never ending battle with mold and smells in that place. I visited other apartments in Noheji and none were ever as humid, smelly or moldy as mine. I think Noheji is the most humid place in Aomori, and your building may be the focal point of all that humidity. I actually bought that dehumidifier of yours with my hard-earned cash, and I’m glad to see you’re still putting it to good use! Just you wait until January and you’ll find out what that Noheji humidity can really do! Spoiler alert: here’s what your winter commute is going to look like… http://www.avoidinglife.com/videos/winter05.wmv
    Good luck and enjoy Noheji. I only planned to stay one year, but I didn’t leave until they kicked me out after 3. I love Noheji and I hope you do too. ;)

  3. pacificloons Says:

    thanks for finding us! gotta love the internet…

    your dehumidifier has been indispensible for drying our laundry. the humidity is not too bad right now but I imagine once it begins to snow again, that will change. our plan to combat the mold is to continue using moisture absorbing packets and outline the windows with a felt-like material to help with condensation. we’re also debating about whether or not to use bubble wrap on the windows.

    the winter commute looks insane. also…I’ll be walking! I have a feeling I will be making the people who drive to work every day in noheji pretty miserable. the streets looked more like one-way snow tunnels than actual roads back in 2005. no room for two cars, let alone pedestrians.

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