Growing up in the Lakes Region, in a small town whose population grew from 2,500 people in the winter to more than 40, 000 people in the summer, I had quite a few friends that were “summer people”. Most of these “summer people” had houses on or near the lake and I can distinctively remember the musty odor that would greet you at the door of their houses. Over the summer this odor would fade and be replaced by the smells of suntan lotion and barbecue chicken, but those first few weeks it was very distinct. At the time I had no idea what caused this odor that stung my nose when I visited my friends’ lake houses, but I now realize it was probably mold that had built up over their long absent winter.
As the days and weeks progressed the odor most likely dissipated due to the efforts of their parents, which of course were no concern to their children or to me, who were focused on our tan lines and the cute boys down the road. Their parents probably followed many procedures I will describe below or hired someone to clean the mold out of their house. However, there were many steps they could have taken before they left their house vacant in the fall that would have prevented the mold from growing in the first place!
How to Prevent Mold from Growing in Your Home When It Closed Up for the Season
Imagine you’ve spent the summer swinging in your hammock by the lake, lazy days lying on the beach and warm nights by the campfire. Surely, you would be resistant to leave your summer oasis and perhaps reluctant to switch from vacation mode back to normal life mode, but don’t let this summer time laziness keep you from preparing your home for the next year! There are many steps that you can easily take to insure that your home will remain mold free during the long winter months while it sits vacant.
First of all because water breeds mold, you should turn off all the water to your home. (This will also help make sure that your pipes don’t freeze). After you have done this make sure to clean all showers and bathrooms with antifungal cleaning products, such as bleach. This will remove any existing mold and help to combat the production of new mold. After you have cleaned the showers, shut off the water to your toilet and remove all water from the bowl, as any standing water can be a mold breeding ground. Now that you have removed all obvious water sources inside you house, you must remember that mold can grow on any organic surface like food, carpet, wood and even in the air. Therefore, you must keep your house well ventilated. You can do this by leaving windows cracked a bit throughout the house and making sure that your basement also has proper ventilation. In addition to this make sure to clean out your refrigerator and unplug it for the winter. In addition to these tips, it is wise to purchase a moisture detector for your house and make sure that the moisture levels are between 30-60% before you leave your house. Lastly, before you walk out the door and wave “see you later” to your fond summer memories, make sure to take any houseplants with you. These great givers of oxygen can also become denizens of mold growth when left unattended. If you follow these simple preparation instructions, you are sure to return to a mold free home in the summer!
What Are the Dangers of Mold Exposure?
You might wonder what is the big deal about mold? Why do I have to worry about a little bit of mold in my vacation home? Although mold is small and often hard to detect it is a powerful monster that can wreak havoc on your health. There are many dangers to your body from mold exposure that range from having a minor to major effect on your health and are increased the longer that you are exposed to mold. These dangers are:
- Stuffy nose
- Skin irritation and rash
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory complaints- these are most dangerous in people with asthma or lung disease
All of these issues are easily prevented by a little pre-close up preparation or if mold is found when you return to your home a bit of post mold clean up!
What Causes the Mold Monster to Make a Visit?
You might be asking yourself why would this sinister mold want to attack your domicile? What is it about your home that is so attractive to this monster? The answer is quite straight forward, any moisture or water inside or outside your home can cause mold. So, if the moisture leaves then the mold will leave, but mold spores don’t leave and lay dormant waiting for moisture to return to regenerate them. This can be caused by humidity in the air, water problems, pipe leaks, AC leaks, showers dripping, rain leaks and many other sources. Humidity can cause already existing spores to become full blown mold. In addition, mold can not only grow in the air, but on any organic substance. For example, mold can grow on wood, paper, carpet, fabric and food, even in the absence of the direct water leak. That is why it is incredibly important to test the moisture levels in your home and make sure that it is not a perfect breeding ground for these nasty little mold monsters! If you feel you have done everything you can and you still have mold in your home, contact a qualified professional to help you remove this nasty beast!