This past fall, I moved into my adorable [although the picture makes it look horrible-trust me, it’s cute] duplex right off of campus. Built in 1907, the house has some things you would expect from a building that old. To be fair, this is college housing…as in, pretty sure the four guys that lived here before me never cleaned a lick of it their entire agreement.
So I live on the third floor, which is basically what was probably the old attic. And while it get’s pretty toasty in the summer, having angled ceilings & an extra closet to use for my creative space are well worth the trade off.
However-we all know that attics don’t usually get a ton of air circulation, and the one thing that + a bathroom = big mold potential. Now, I clean my shower once every two weeks with a natural shower cleaner to tackle mold
- 1 part bleach, 1 part water sprayed on shower followed by pure vinegar sprayed on shower – let sit and scrub with hot water and 100% cotton washcloth
So when I saw that there was mold growing in the corners of my shower a day after I had cleaned, I knew something was up. I took Green Works Bathroom Cleaner along with some good ol’ bleach and started to clean. Then, the caulk started peeling off to reveal not only a layer of caulk beneath it, but about 5x as much mold as I originally saw.
There are so many problems with this. The fact that there was another layer of caulk underneath the top layer made me think that they had caulked the new layer over the mold. The only way to get rid of mold from caulk is to rip it out and replace it. But of course, at the moment I first saw the treasure trove of mold I had uncovered, I didn’t stop to think of this [or to take pictures]. My Pavlovian response was to ditch the natural cleaning and throw whatever kind of cleaner I could on those black spots. But no matter how much elbow grease I sunk into that shower, there was still black in the bottom layer of caulk [which is what I got pictures of].
So you know why I was so antsy-My uncle and cousin [his daughter] have been struggling with a severe autoimmune disorder for the past decade from unknown and covert mold in their house. My cousin, who is a month younger than me, and was always a year behind me in school [holla summer birthdays] actually had to drop out of school after eighth grade because of the disorder. [Thankfully, she is utterly bright, resolute, and galvanized which has lead her to get her GED, drivers license, and opening the door to college next year.] Knowing that MOLD caused their hardships, I did not want to play around with this. Especially since it was possible this stuff had been growing before I had even moved in.
Mold also wasn’t the only recent issue I had been having. I came back from Christmas break to find the heap of blankets I have in my Art Closet gnawed through on one corner, a trash bag and a bag of flour eaten through, and LOADS of mice poop on the floor of our pantry. I contacted our rental company. Their answer-get a cat. Those of you who know me, know I was not opposed to this option [It’s humane and would be a legit excuse to finally get a kitty]. Only problem is my rental company doesn’t allow animals. Cool.
We set out traps for the mice, and caught three or four-but we could still hear them in the ceilings and walls, as well as see their ‘presents’ left behind.
That night, I sat down to write my rental company a strongly written e-mail [nicely put]. They had ignored me when I contacted them in January about the mice in addition to failing to fix our back porch, [advertised by them as “An enclosed back sun porch off of the large kitchen.” but that the city had CONDEMNED last fall] the old phone wires that were still connected to the circuit board and exposed from the walls, windows that didn’t open, and gaping holes in the floor of my closet that I eventually nailed old bookcase shelves to [hmm, I wonder how the mice got in my room.]
The very next day they came out, ripped the caulk from my shower, the shower downstairs, and the kitchen sink and re-caulked it. They removed the exposed wires, sealed up the holes that were still there, and called an exterminator. The window? I eventually spent an afternoon fixing that one.
While my Dad offered for me to cc him on the e-mail to my landlord [which I don’t doubt urged them even more so to come out the next day], it was definitely a lesson. If I don’t clean my bathroom-Mom isn’t going to come and do it for me. If I don’t read the e-mails from my cable company and payment gets messed up-that’s on me. While these are the hard lessons to learn, and while living with mice and mold has not been the highlight of my year; it’s another experience I will add the book.
Sometimes you have to get a little forward to get done what needs to be done-take charge of the situation and make sure that you’re heard.
Meanwhile-this hippie is going to keep trying to figure out a way to get a cat…I was so close.