Mold in Your Southwest Florida Winter Home
Escaping the tundra of the north to the southern tropical climate is a popular winter living choice for many retired northerners. These “snowbirds,” as they are respectively named, allow for seasonal migratory residents to enjoy family and stay within comfortable climates all year round. However, leaving a house unattended for half a year may prove problematic if you overlook necessary precautions.
The Absent Season
The rainy season takes place simultaneously to snowbirds enjoying the warmer northern months. Bringing about water, excessive moisture, and increased humidity levels, which mold will thrive in on in an uncopied home. Cellulose present in the building materials of houses (walls, flooring, etc.) gives the nutrients needed for the mold to colonize. This colonization allows a snowbird to return to a home that has been overtaken by this unwanted inhabitant.
Preparing for their departure up north, these residents tend to perform the same habits one would do in preparation for a short-term vacation. With drapes drawn shut and HVAC systems turned off mold is sure to thrive in the warm moisture-ridden home left behind. Returning to warped floorboards, mushrooms in carpets or musty odors is a snowbird’s worst fear.
Best practice is to be proactive versus reactive. Here are some tips for preparing your snowbird home to keep mold away.
Air Conditioning: Although you don’t have to face the brunt of the summer heat, your home still does. Keep the HVAC system running while you are away. Aiming for an average temperature of 80-85 degrees with humidity between 30-50%. These parameters will allow your HVAC system to regulate indoor humidity and temperature levels to ward off potential mold, while also keeping utility bills at a manageable cost in your absence.
Windows and Doorways: Weather sealing windows and doorways will assist in fighting off the outside humidity and wet conditions that occur during the summer. Leaving a home susceptible to wet conditions, which are common occurrences in Southwest Florida summers, contribute to possible mold colonization.
Pools: Draining some water from the pool is advised to keep water from flooding over during the rainy summers ahead. However, fully draining a pool is not recommended as pressure from summer storms has been known to cause pool shells to pop from the ground or crack without the water counter pressure. Asking a friend or service to tend to the pool in your absence is the safest and most financially sound course of action.
Too Late, Time to Be Reactive!
Winter is upon us, and you are receiving tips too late- whoops! Coming back to leaks, roof damage, condensation build-ups, and more- now what? The savvy choice is to bring in a licensed mold inspector.
First, take a look around your property and search for evidence of water intrusion.
- Condensation build-up
- Flooding or water leaks from outdoor sources
- Roof damage such as cupped shingles or discolored areas on ceilings
- Leaks in the siding or foundation of the structure
- Gaps or cracks around doors or windows
- Clogs in gutters, downspouts, or pool filters near the foundation (these may have resulted in flooding)
- Leaks from indoor sources such as broken pipes or adjacent neighbors in condominiums.
Should any of these water intrusion signs be present, mold is most likely present as well. Although microscopic, mold spores can do damage to your health and home quickly upon your return. Even without these signs present, the chances of mold are still high.
A licensed mold inspector will investigate your home with attention to the most minute details. Spores that you are unable to visualize are present on surfaces and in the air. Visual mold, such as green growth on drywalls or mushrooms in carpeting, are signs that a much more severe colonization has occurred. With the inspection tools available to them, mold inspectors can test air particles, microscopic surface samples, and even within the walls of the structure. Utilizing infrared thermography and 72-hour lab results, Mold Inspectors of Florida provides you with accurate results promptly.