Vacation home care is a little different than caring for a home that is lived in all year. Your vacation home sits through the hot, humid summer with no one to know if the humidity is creeping up. The first step in being mold-free is to prevent mold from getting started. It is all about moisture control. Mold cannot grow without moisture. To prevent the war on mold, know there are two fronts on which to wage your war: the outside and the inside.
Part 1: Outside Housekeeping
- Make sure that gutters are clear and that downspouts carry water away from the house. Make sure you have gutters or downspouts that have extensions to carry the water away from the property.
- Fix any signs where where potential mold can grow. Cracked roof shingles, deteriorating sundeck flashing, or the cracked, loose frame of a door, window drywall separation of the baseboards, where they join in the corner or spread apart is a great home for mildew.
Part 2: Inside Housekeeping
- When no one is occupying your vacation home in the summer, set the thermostat at 78-80 degrees. Higher and the AC will not dehumidify effectively. Set it lower and you create cold surfaces where moisture can collect.
- Make sure you look for standing water around refrigerators, toilets, water tanks, washers, anywhere water is used before you leave.
- Toilets Know that the source of water leakage can be caused by faulty supply lines, fill valve assembles, or toilets that are backed up and overflowed. Make sure that if the bowl or tank begins to overflow, turn off the water at the supply valve.
- Washing Machines: A burst water supply line cause half of all water damage incidents.Try leaving a 4-inch gap between the back of the washer and the wall to avoid kicking the hose near the valve connection.
- Water Heaters: The average lifespan for a water heater is about 5 years until it begins to leak or burst. Make sure to remove sediment by flushing the tank every six months, especially in areas with hard water.
- Shower Stalls: Most of these incidents involve a faulty shower pan. If your home is more than 15 years old you have 37% higher chance of water damage involving a shower. Test the shower pan annually and make sure to inspect the tile and grout every six months, and repair if there are any cracked lines.
- Have a humidistat installed for the time you are not there. Set it to override the thermostat. When the relative humidity in the house exceeds 60%, it will turn on your AC to draw the moisture out of the air.
- If your indoor humidity is over 60%, have your AC unit checked. Most of the time when an air conditioner isn’t properly dehumidifying the indoor air it is because its cooling capacity is too great. The air cools and shuts off the cooling system before the humidity has dropped.
- Eliminate clutter: Make sure that furniture or draperies are not blocking AC grills. Keep the air moving freely in every part of the house. Furnishings and draperies that block air supply grilles cause condensation. All this moisture creates microclimates in your home that welcome and feed mold growth. Throw out things you don’t love or don’t use. Push furniture away from vents and grilles to keep air circulating.
- Pay attention to plumbing: shore up any leaks under the bathtub, and add an exhaust fan to the bathroom.
- Keep your vacation home clean before you’re departure. Make sure to clean and disinfect along the windows. That’s where a lot of moisture and dust and dirt and debris collect, which is a high source for mold.
- If you do find that you have mold, consider calling in a pro. Before you begin to tear out your walls and possibly cross-contaminating your rooms look for mold remediation specialist. Important: Make sure the mold remediator you hire is certified from a reliable source and has insurance.