Spring is a time of new awakenings...plants are blooming, the sun is shining longer, baby animals are being born and in this season many people are opening up their lake houses, lake cottages, or cabins after a long winter's nap. If the lake house, cottage or cabin is free from any damage or moisture from the winter, opening the property for the season is a satisfying experience. Yet if any of the above was sustained during the winter months, most likely there will be mold or mildew present in your lake house, lake cottage, or cabin when you open it.
Although many lake house/cabin owners are familiar with a mildew or musty smell each season or weekend as they come to the property, this smell is an indication of mold growth. To those in the family with a compromised immune system, the lake house or cabin can be a source of suffering. This is certainly not the intent you wish to have. So the question then becomes...
First and foremost, mold growth can happen to any property owner as mold spores are present everywhere. Mold is a fungus that thrives in moist, dark, warm conditions with a food source. These conditions are easily found in lake houses, lake cottages and cabins, especially when the property is near the water. Being near the water allows excess moisture in the air and ground. If mold spores do not have the correct conditions, it will not grow. However, high moisture, warm, dark conditions and wood, paper, and fabric are perfect for mold spores to incubate and grow.
Closing lake houses, lake cottages, and cabins is a common occurrence each week and for the winter as tenants leave. If the property has excess moisture and no air circulation, the moisture cannot dry out. This above normal moisture level thus gives the mold spores an excellent environment to grow. Air circulation and proper ventilation will help control the moisture level and keep it within a healthy level. Keep interior doors open while the home is unoccupied for any length of time. This includes pantry doors and closet doors. This will allow for air circulation throughout the home.
Another situation that may have brought on the mold and mildew is a malfunction to any of your mechanics while the home was unoccupied. Roof damage during a storm may have allowed leaks into the attic or directly into the home. Did a water heater or furnace stop working and allow pipes to freeze and sustain damage? If yes, this may also be another culprit allowing excess moisture into the home. Breakdowns can occur at any time and not being at the property allows enough time for the mold to grow.
If you find your home does have mold or even mildew, the first tip we share with property owners is to find the source of the extra moisture. It is imperative to find the source and fix it immediately. If the mold is a new issue that has not happened in previous years, start with checking your mechanicals. Next check your roof for damage. Next look for any cracks or leaks in the foundation of your lake house, lake cottage or cabin. As soon as the excess moisture issue is fixed, mold removal and remediation can begin.
Assess the mold situation. If the mold is well beyond a light cleanup and is embedded into the woodwork or other materials in your house, it’s time to call the professionals. You can follow this link to get a list of local mold removal professionals that will give a free evaluation and estimate. If you believe it is a light cleanup and something you can tackle on your own, DO NOT use bleach. Bleach can actually spread mold because bleach has a high concentration of water which simply adds excess moisture. We suggest a product such as Concrobium Mold Control, which is specifically designed to deal with mold and mildew.
After finding mold and then removing and remediating the mold situation, it’s always good to find out how to prevent mold from growing. If the musty smells are common each season you open your lake house or even each weekend you come to the cottage it doesn’t have to be. Air movement reduces mold growth. Leave a fan or an air conditioning unit running while you are away. Even setting the fan or air conditioning unit to low can have a positive effect on keeping mold growth away. Removing excess moisture with a dehumidifier is also a good option while the property is vacant. Many of the dehumidifiers on the market today also utilize a fan for circulating the air. Here is more on selecting the best dehumidifier.
Always check around the foundation of your lake house, lake cottage or cabin. Make sure that the ground slopes away from the foundation to carry any excess water away. It should also be noted that rain gutters and downspouts should always be kept clean so that there is no spillage over the top of the gutter. These two items can prevent that extra moisture from creeping in to the foundation of your home.
A step further for preventing mold growth is to spray an anti-microbial barrier on everything in your cabin, lake house or cottage before closing it for the winter. We do not suggest this as an option for short closures in-between the weekends. A mold inhibitor such as Concrobium Mold Control is a good option. Spraying the mold inhibitor in your cabin or cottage makes the surfaces unfriendly to mold growth. ** If this is something you are unable to tackle yourself, call in a local professional. Many of them offer this type of service.
We also suggest that you inspect your cabin, lake house, or cottage periodically to identify any possible issues before a larger situation occurs. Taking preventive measures to possible mold growth can assure that opening your property will be an enjoyable experience. Family members and pets will be healthier and happier, and the memories you create will last a lifetime.
**Read all labels carefully before applying anti-microbial products to your surfaces. Most anti-microbial products are non-toxic. It is imperative to do your research before applying.
About The Author:
CCS Property Services is a Wisconsin mold and water damage remediation company. They pride themselves on reliable, dependable, quality work for all residential and commercial clients.