Retivut? Get Riduvit!

Olim from Western countries get very upset when they find their home in Israel is beset with retivut. Often they are ready to pay any price to a shiputznik who promises to get rid of it. Or if they are renting an apartment, they may do their darnedest to break their lease and move. Are such dramatic reactions necessary? Actually, the answer is a qualified “no.” Retivut is generally not an unsolvable problem. There are a number of ways to prevent and/or clear up this issue.

What is retivut?

Retivut is a Hebrew word that is related to the adjective ratuv, meaning wet. It is sometimes used to describe its evil cousin, mold, which is more correctly called ovesh. However, retivut refers to dampness in walls or ceilings, or beneath the floor tiles, of a property. Signs that it may be present include:

  • Surfaces that are damp to the touch
  • Watermarks or discolored paint
  • Cracked, peeling or bubbling paint and plaster
  • A musty or other unpleasant odor
  • Dripping water
  • Mold or mildewMold

Where does it come from?

Dampness may come from a variety of sources inside or outside your building, such as:

  • A leak from a neighbor’s plumbing or balcony (in this case, the neighbor is responsible for repair)
  • A broken pipe – even a pinhole crack can cause a mini flood when water is rushing through the pipe at high pressure
  • Improper sealing of, or cracks in, your exterior walls which admit rainwater
  • Faultily installed windows causing condensation in cold weather
  • Poor insulation and/or ventilation
  • Other structural problems, such as poorly built windowsills that slant downward toward the window


Before you buy or rent a home

When you are considering an apartment or house to buy or rent, check carefully for signs of retivut or potential sources of damp, as just described. Do not be shy about inspecting in depth for this serious problem. Concealing retivut from a potential property buyer is illegal in Israel, so it is important to ask the owner explicitly whether there is a retivut problem even if you do not find any indications.

Engineer inspection

When you are planning to buy, you may want to consider having the property inspected by a professional engineer. He or she should use a special device to test for dampness, as well as checking for structural issues. Be aware, however, that there are potential problems with using an engineer.

There have been cases of suspected collusion between engineers and potential sellers, so be sure that you are present every minute if you go ahead with an inspection.

The fact of having had an engineer check the property will tend to work to your disadvantage if retivut is later found in the property and you wish to sue the seller in small claims court for your repair expenses.

Engineers often include in their inspection reports a clause absolving them of any responsibility for problems, whether reported or not.

Preventing moisture build-up

Once you are already living in a house or apartment, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent moisture build-up:

  1. Air out the rooms by opening the windows daily for at least 15 minutes if at all possible.
  2. Install electric vents in high humidity areas such as in bathrooms and over stovetops. You may also use an electric dehumidifier or inexpensive humidity absorption pellets*.
  3. Do not keep the inside of windows covered with furniture or heavy drapes.
  4. Close the trisim (blinds) during heavy rainfalls.
  5. Use humidifiers sparingly.
  6. Wipe condensation off window frame and surrounding areas with old towels.
  7. If you need to line dry laundry indoors, put it in an airy part of your apartment.


Dealing with mold

If you notice mold forming, photograph or make a sketch of where it appears in case you eventually need to consult a professional to deal with it. Infants and small children, elderly people and anyone suffering from a respiratory problem like allergy or asthma should stay away from the moldy room. Scrub off the mold as soon as possible – before it spreads – with a strong bleach solution. Make sure the area is well ventilated while you are working, and wear rubber gloves, old clothes and preferably a protective face mask. Air the room thoroughly afterwards.

Once the mold is gone, try to track down and eliminate/minimize the source of the problem.

Using a retivut specialist

If the mold returns, you may want to contact a professional in resolving retivut problems. Because such a specialist does not require licensing, choose carefully; ask friends or community e-bulletin boards for “tried and true” recommendations, and stay away from anyone who recommends himself.  If the dampness is coming from outside the building, the professional will probably not be able to proceed until after a few weeks of warm weather have allowed the area to dry out. (As an alternative, if you have determined that the problem stems from inadequate sealing of your home’s exterior walls, at this point you can apply sealant to the outer walls yourself.)

Make sure that your resource person treats the source of the problem and not just the symptoms. Have him sign a contract detailing the exact procedures, materials and deadlines involved, with a guarantee on the job of at least one year (preferably longer) so that you can see how the work holds up next winter.

Good luck! Here’s hoping you stay dry and warm this winter!

I found this at the grocery store and this image is taken from

I found this at the grocery store and this image is taken from

* The humidity absorption pellets (מילוי סופג לחות ומונע עובש) are found in the cleaning products section of large grocery stores. Sold in a small dark blue cardboard box,  the pellets can be purchased together with a plastic holder (about NIS 26) or in a refill pack (about NIS 12). I have used them successfully to absorb dampness in small enclosed spaces such as in bathrooms or under sinks.


L’Briut! — Women’s Health Day


UPDATE:  Did you see the coverage about AACI’s Women’s Health Day in the newspaper? Click here to read it! Thanks Haaretz!

Go to the AACI website  and type “health” into the search box. You will be surprised at the number of results that show up!

AACI is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles for our members and the general public. We offer:

  •  ongoing exercise classes several times a week, including Tai Chi, Feldenkrais and exercise for 50+
  •  information for new olim on the various kupot cholim (health funds) in Israel
  •  blood drives (the next one is coming up on March 25)

Now, in honor of International Women’s Day,* AACI is cooperating with Hadassah Medical Organization, Jewish Diabetes Association, Efrat Women’s Health Center, Bishvilaych and Ha’aretz to present an entire day dedicated to women’s health.
High-level experts, including physicians and researchers, will speak in English on a wide range of topics geared toward women of all ages.


9:30-10:15       Heart Disease Prevention in Women, Tzipi Morris, MD, Director, Efrat Women’s Health Center

9:30-10:00      Feldenkreis, Shoshanna Lederman

9:30-16:30       Reflexology, Rolene Segal, 15 minutes; every hour and ½ hour

10:30-11:15     Self Care in Health Care: Whens & Whys of Screenings & Check-Ups,

Elisheva Langer, PhD, Director of Research and Education at Bishvilaych

11:30-12:15     Fitness for All Ages and Stages, Harriet Scher, Exercise Director of YMCA Great Shape

11:30-12:00    Feldenkreis, Shoshanna Lederman

12:30-13:15    Healthy Lifestyle, Part I: Prevention & Awareness for Diabetes Health & Related Issues

Nechama Cohen, Founder & CEO: Jewish Diabetes Association, Naturopath and Nutrition Coach

12:30-13:15    Intro to Journey, Meira Golbert, MS, Certified Journey Practitioner, Polarity Therapist

12:30-13:15     Osteofit, Harriet Scher, Exercise Director, YMCA/Great Shape

13:15-14:30    Healthy Lifestyle, Part II: Pesach Cooking Demonstration & Discussion,

Nechama Cohen and Chef Udi (to be confirmed)

13:30-14:15    Pelvic Floor Exercises for Incontinence, Marilyn Cohen, Certified Fitness Instructor

14:30- 15:15    Genetic Testing and Counseling, Michal Sagi, PhD, Senior Genetic Counselor, Department of Human Genetics & Metabolic Diseases, Hadassah University Medical Center

14:30-15:15    Lecture on Tai Chi, Nancy Harel

15:30-16:15   Menopause: Taking Charge of Changes, Tzipora Wolff, MD, Women’s Health Physician

15:30- 16:00    Feldenkreis, Shoshanna Lederman

16:30-17:15    The Latest in Plastic Surgery, Michael Feinerman, MD

16:30-17:15    Fitness Design for Life, Rena Sered, Health & Wellness Director, International YMCA

16:30-17:15    Fusion Strength Training & Pilates, Di Katz, Group Exercise Instructor & Personal Trainer

17:30-18:15    The Sandwich Generation, Daniel Sullum, MD, Board Certified in General & Geriatric Pyschiatry

18:30-19:15    Skin Care: From the Inside and Outside, LeeOna Fisher, MD

19:30-20:15    Questions & Answers You Always Wanted to Ask Your Gynecologist, Michal Rambau, MD

20:30-21:15    Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Your Pelvic Health, David Shveiky, MD

20:30-21:15    Birthing Options in Israel, Nancy Novik, Nurse Midwife, Hadassah Hospital

The price is very modest – admission for the whole day is only NIS 50 for AACI members/NIS 60 for non-members. Individual sessions are NIS 30 for members/NIS 40 for non-members. Payment by cash or check only.

AACI is conveniently located across the street from Canyon Hadar, in the center of the Talpiot shopping & restaurant district, with plenty of dining options.  MAP

Bring a friend and make a day of it! Gentlemen are also welcome.

Women’s Health Day
Monday, March 12, 09:00-21:00
AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max and Gianna Glassman Family Center, Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2, Talpiot    MAP
Buses # 21 & 49 stop on Pierre Koenig across from AACI; 71, 72, 74 & 75 stop  at Tzomet Habankim, a 10-minute walk away.

For more information, please call (02)566-1181.

* International Women’s Day honors the social and political achievements of women worldwide. Though it is normally marked on March 8, this year we are celebrating a little later in Israel, to avoid conflict with Purim.