Discovered large mold problem in new apartment - Urgent, need advice

Ok so I just moved into a new place, actually I just arrived in Taiwan on Thursday. When I went to check the place out everything looked nice, no bad smells or anything. However when I moved in yesterday it smelled a bit mildewy. I looked around a bit, found some mold in and on the wooden closet which I did not catch originally. Also noticed some white kind of stuff along the corners of one of the walls which originally to me looked just kinda like paint residue or some sort and who knows, it might be. Looked closer at all the walls (which are white) and there are like very faint smatterings of a kind of powdery black substance in place, which I thought was dirt originally and it definitely could be dirt.

However, tonight I found another splotch of greenish mold in the closet and that gave me the idea that maybe I should look behind the headboard of my bed which is pressed up against the wall. And yep, I definitely have a mold problem. It’s not completely horrific, but there’s definitely enough mold that I don’t feel comfortable trying to clean it up without gloves, goggles + ventilation mask. There are several fairly good sized patches of whitish mold as well as greenish mold both on the back of the headboard and on the wall behind it. One of the greenish patches is particularly large and seems to be ground zero of the problem. Also a little bit after I had pulled the headboard back I notice a bunch of white specks on some clothes I had laying on the floor as well as a plastic bowl that I had drying. I think the source of the mold was just humidity since my room isn’t very well ventilated. There don’t appear to be any leaks that would have caused it.

So, what does everybody think I should do? I slept in the place one night, haven’t noticed any adverse effects as of yet. Can something like this be cleaned by wiping down all areas with like a vinegar or bleach solution or is it usually a much bigger problem? There’s maybe abt 5-10 square feet of mold affected areas behind the headboard. Right now I’m leaning towards leaving. I’m gonna be here for 7 months and I have pretty sensitive skin, don’t want to expose myself to a potential hazard for so long.

I paid 1 months deposit and was gonna pay the second + rent when the landlord comes back around on Friday. I signed a lease for 7 months and unfortunately don’t really remember what the stipulations were exactly regarding leaving early. The person I’ve been dealing with is the daughter of the lady who owns the apartment and she seems pretty nice, but I’m assuming I probably won’t get my 1 month deposit back. I can live with that, but can they take further legal action against me and get me deported or something? And do you think they would do that?

Just looking for any advice I can get since I have about a day to figure out what to do.

I think water+bleach should do the trick, plus a big-ass (and I mean POWERFUL as shit) dehumidifier running at all times, at least for the first week or so. I think you’ll be fine.

Ok, whew, I’ve calmed down a little. The thing is I actually do like the place and I do know that mold is a common problem in Taiwan, I just don’t wanna be stuck in a mold infested apartment for 7 months.

This is the dehumidifier I have now… do you guys think it will do the trick?

When she comes back on Friday kindly show her the back of the headboard and very nicely with a big dumb smile ask if she would be willing to change it out. It’s probably cheap furniture anyway, and if she’s really a nice landlord she will very likely agree to it. Then you can use vinegar (since it isn’t toxic and probably will work as well as bleach) to treat the remaining problem areas. Then use your dehumidifier, and maybe some of those cheap plastic little boxes that trap moister, and keep an eye on things. If the landlord’s smile turns upside down at the idea of getting rid of the headboard, you can always tell her “Sorry, thanks but no thanks. I didn’t realize I was moving into a cesspool.” Most landlords state in the contract they’ll dock you one month’s rent if you leave early. You might want check ahead time next time you sign a lease. Anyway, you won’t get deported (I assume) and it takes a while to legally kick someone out from what I’ve heard. I’m guessing you already paid one month’s rent so you should be good for that long if things turn ugly and you decide to back out. From my experience it’s unusual to find a place that doesn’t at least have traces of mold somewhere or another. I don’t know how feasible it would be to use vinegar or bleach to treat a large concentration of mold on your headboard, but several square feet of mold on a cheap piece of wood is reason enough to ask them to throw it out, imho. Good luck!

[quote=“brooklynexpat”]Ok, whew, I’ve calmed down a little. The thing is I actually do like the place and I do know that mold is a common problem in Taiwan, I just don’t wanna be stuck in a mold infested apartment for 7 months.

This is the dehumidifier I have now… do you guys think it will do the trick?

[/quote]

It looks kind of small, but you can try. Maybe buy one of those cheap humidity monitors you can find in many supermarkets or electronics shops and check whether you manage to get the humidity down to around 50%.

How much would a more powerful humidifier cost about? My room isn’t very big, maybe like 6 or 7 ping or something.

Also, will post some images of the mold to give a better idea.

[quote=“brooklynexpat”]How much would a more powerful humidifier cost about? My room isn’t very big, maybe like 6 or 7 ping or something.

Also, will post some images of the mold to give a better idea.[/quote]

Prices vary from a few thousand to close to 20K ntd. Just try it out with a separate meter (which you can buy for ~300 NTD in many, many places). If you manage to pull the room relative humidity down to around 50% within two hours of continuous operation (assuming the tank does not fill up too quickly), it’ll be fine. If the tank fills in less than 8 hours (a good night sleep), you might have a problem, both 'cause you’ll need to wake up and empty it and 'cause it means the moisture in your room is crazy high or linked to a high-yield source (e.g. a nearby kitchen vent or some other moisture-emitting exhaust).

Ok turns out my dehumidifier is full. There’s a little knob with like a thing sticking out in the back when I unscrew it. I assume I need to buy some sort of tube and siphon out the liquid. How does one do that exactly and is that all I need to do? Just stick the tube in and the fluid will flow?

Usually you can slide out the whole tank and dump the water from the tank and slide it back in again.

Yeah I have some sort of weird dehumidifier, definitely can’t slide the tank out I’ve been poking and proding the thing for about 30 minutes. I do have a manual in chinese if anybody wants to be kind enough to take a look?

What brand is it? What model? Please be advised that some models have been recalled due to fire hazard, so it is important to buy not only a reputable brand, but also one that has been certified as safe/is not on the recall list.

Actually, not all dehumidifiers have the little prong where you attach a hose. So definetively, yours should be able to easily slide out -well, easier if empty, truth be told- and then just dump that water -which we had discussed a long time ago better not be used for anything else, like watering plants- outside/bathroom/elsewhere.

Personally, I stick with Lysol in the closet, plus lots of dehumidifier boxes. Just this morning I went out to pick up some shoes from the shoe cabinet and lo and behold, they were all fuzzy… :stuck_out_tongue: This at the house entrance, which is relatively dry, but I had not changed the packet inside the dehumidifier box. Hence teh packets are effective only if you change them frequently, in the same way as the dehumidifier machinese is good if you use it for longer periods of time every day. So, yes, mold is a big problem here in Taiwan, and requires constant vigilance in an unending battle.

It’s a sampo AD 1262. But I figured it out. There is this orange thing that slides out, which I didn’t realize was the tank. The air filter was not fully pressed in which is the reason it was saying that the tank was full. Just one more question regarding it. Which way should I turn the knob to get maximum humidity absorption? I assume to the far right?


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And here’s a picture of the mold. Kind of hard to see a lot of it on the headboard b/c a lot is whitish. But what does everybody think? Manageable?


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Really, the mold doesn’t look bad by Taiwan standards, so just bleach it and you can probably chillax. Turn the knob all the way to the right so the dehumidifier stays on. You might also want to get a second dehumidifier and/or a fan to keep air circulating–that’s not a very powerful or energy efficient one.

Yeah man, relax. Mold in Taipei is like snow at the North Pole. You can’t win against it, but hard work can keep it out of some places and, in general, it doesn’t kill you.

Ok guys, thanks a lot for the reassurances. I can be a bit of a worrier at times, a reality check is actually great appreciated. Will look into a better dehumidifier and some fans. By the way does anybody know a store where I can definitely buy one of those humidity readers? Couldn’t find one at the 7/11 or supermarket by my place and I’ve been going into any of those little stores I see that seem to sell miscellaneous electronics with no luck.

Also, what sort of grocery store will just sell plain distilled vinegar? The supermarket by my apt has about 10 kinds of flavored vinegar but lacks just plain old white distilled vinegar.

And finally, where can I buy the little dehumidifier boxes?

Thanks!

We are the first tenants in our apartment in a new building. After a year of living here we encountered some mold in our master bedroom during the winter.

We immediately went off to buy the biggest dehumidifier we could find. Our Mitsubishi unit cost around 20k+ NTD, the capacity is 4.7 liters and is rated to remove 17.5 liters per day. If we set it to 50% humidity it takes a few days to fill up. Costco and AMart both have the same unit. The built in humidity gauge is nice to have so the unit isn’t running all the time.

We ended up buying two of the units and they do a very good job of keeping our 65 ping apartment at a reasonable humidity level.

The only thing that really removes mold (all types) is the white/blue bottle of Magic Amah toilet cleaner. It has a picture of a toilet bowl in front but I use it to remove molds from the tub, floor, furniture, surfaces. I just put some on the problem area, and scrub with a very rough sponge. I’ve tried all sorts of detergents and cleaners (Mrs. Jackson, bleach, vinegar, some local brands), this is the only thing that worked for me. It also removed the strange white mold on the bathroom tiles.

Holy shit! Seriously?? I use it since ever for the sink, the toilet and other ceramic surface, but never on mold. I can tell that’s powerful stuff though: if I use ot without gloves it eats my skin away.

Just to update, my landlord was fairly nice about it when I emailed her. She said that she’s going to come on sunday with her husband and remove the headboard, clean the mold, and repaint the wall. Even better I won’t have to pay the rest of my deposit + first month rent until they come do the cleaning, I think it will be wise to hold the money until after I see what kind of job they do. She blamed the previous tenant for taking showers without opening the window to air out the apartment or using the dehumidifier and that the other rooms in the unit don’t have this problem. I’ve been meaning to try and catch one of the other tenants as they go out. “Hey! Nice to meet you! Do you by any chance have a lot of mold in your room?”

Also I managed to get the humidity in my room down to like 53-55% after having run my dehumidifier for like 45 mins. It does seem to fill up pretty quick (maybe 4-5 hours) but the tank and the thing overall do also seem pretty small. I may invest in a better one and just use this guy for the bathroom or something.

Go to Guanghua computer market at Bade and Xinsheng. On the third or fourth floor of the tall building with all the vendor stalls on Civic Blvd. there are a few shops that sell various ‘meters’ (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.).

Costco has huge bottles of white Heinz vinegar for super cheap. Also, maybe some Wellcomes or Carrefour. Search the forum.

Any supermarket should have them. Look by the cleaning products/detergent. One recognizable brand is “Farcent”.