Friday, January 20, 2012

Am I Dry

Over on her blog today, Anita is talking about humidity, or the lack thereof during cold, winter months, and what you can do to combat it.

My apartment is extremely dry in winter--so much so that my sinuses are often sore or tender. Skin also suffers due to the aridness. Skin creams and moisturizers can help combat the dryness, as can using baby oil year-round after bathing. I find the baby oil especially helps my legs and back of the hands.

Another sign of how dry my apartment is, is that I have to water the philodendrons every 1-2 days. The only ones who actually like the dry air in my apartment are the Dragon Tree and Monster Fern. Being subtropical plants, they thrive on it, and I only water them about once a week.

Though I would love a humidifier, it's just not in the budget at this time. To help add moisture to the air, I have been doing the pot-on-the-stove trick a few times a week. This involves filling a large roaster almost to the top with water, and just letting it boil down. The only caution here is to watch that your pot doesn't boil dry, and that you remember to turn it off before leaving or going to bed. I also leave a shallow pan of water sitting on the back of the stove and--having a gas stove--need to refill it almost every morning.

Some would argue that part of the problem is that I keep my thermostat set too high, but I do not believe that to be true, for a number of reasons. See, though I have the thermostat set between 75 and 85, it is never actually that warm in my apartment. For one, I am over an unheated basement. I usually have to wear two pairs of socks (sometimes three!) during the winter to keep my feet warm. I am also on an exposed NW corner, am next to the back door, and there is little or no insulation in the walls. Which means that even when the thermostat says it's 80, it really isn't. You can actually feel the temp drop, walking from living room to back bedroom and bath. That's a drop of 10-15 degrees! And if the wind is blowing above 20mph? You can feel it blow right through the walls.

I also believe there is a mold issue in my apartment. I was flooded by the one above 4-1/2 yrs ago. Though they sopped up some of the water in my hallway, it wasn't enough. It was three or four weeks before the carpet and walls were completely dry, and to this day I have to keep an air freshener in the walk-in closet or it smells musty. Needless to say, I no longer store anything of value in there, unless it is in a plastic storage bin. And here is the irony of my apartment: during the summer it is so humid that the doors swell so much that I have to force the linen, bathroom and walk-in doors shut.

While they fixed the connections upstairs post-flood, they didn't do something right, because there was a steady leak in my wall from that day forward. Though I complained reported it regularly, it was more than two years before they finally repaired it. Naturally, in both instances, no one ever returned to my apartment to assess damages, even though I told them it was damaging my bathroom wall and ceiling. Last week, four years later, they were finally forced to repair it as the plaster was starting to peel and drop into my bathtub.

So between the walls, door frames, and hall carpet I do believe there is mold, especially under the carpet/carpet padding. I'd go so far as to bet that the sub-floor is separating, which is not good and actually happened in my kitchen before they repaired damage there (the previous tenants apparently broke a glass in the dishwasher. First time we used it, it flooded our kitchen, seeping under the tile).

Mold and dry air, of course, are only two of the many reasons why I need to find a new place to live. This place is killing me in more ways than one.

How about you> Do you have a problem with either mold or lack of humidity? How do you deal with it?


SusanB-knits said...

In our part of TX it is dry. The usual day humidity is 13%. I love it. It makes for great hair days. I lather on the lotion to keep my skin moist and we have a humidifier in running in the bedroom. Oh, and I drink lots of water! :)

Heather said...

Susan: I think only 13% would be too dry for me. I need to be near water, LOL. I do not drink coffee, tea or soda, so my main beverages are milk and water. Occasionally I will have juice or hot cocoa/lemonade, depending on the season.

Alice Audrey said...

We're so dry that even the dragon tree is suffering. Yet the snow melt off the back porch has caused a wet spot in the basement.

CountryDew said...

I really hope you can find a new place. That sounds really bad. You can also use a vaporizer in your bedroom to help with the humidity; they are not too expensive.

Good luck!

Heather said...

Alice: Wow, that's really dry! I hope the basement issue is not serious--landscaping as opposed to foundation.

Anita: Me too! This place (and some of the inconsiderate tenants) gets to me more every day. The thermostat says it is 75 in here today, and yet I am bundled up against the chill.

Jana said...

Eep! Girl, I hope you find something better soon. You know I lived in a crappy housing situation for 7years (a drop in the hat to how long you've endured, I know!) and I never knew how miserable I was until I moved out of it.

I had the opposite situation there, though. Instead of it being too dry, it was too moist. I had to run a dehumidifier (that my then-landlord bought) just to keep mold from growing up the walls and to keep the floors dry. It was a nightmare the 2-3 months I had to go without a dehumidifier before the landlord would replace the new one. *shudders*

Heather said...

Jana: Ugh! Dealing with mold is horrible, and it's amazing how many people -- especially landlords -- don't realize what an adverse affect it can have on peoples' health.

The biggest problem, of course, is finding/making time to search for something new and which meets your criteria. There are some things I am willing to compromise on, but I absolutely do not want another downstairs apartment.