School’s out and you’re ready to take that first long weekend trip to the lake house. You purchased the place as a vacation home to get away from the crazy hustle and bustle that keeps you too busy when you stay home. With lots of expectations of the fun weekend activities you pack the suitcases, load up the kids, and off you go.
Once you finally arrive and swing open the door, those old familiar musty odors greet you as soon as you step inside. Why does this always happen and what can be done to prevent it?
The musty smells are typically caused by mildew which is a common problem in living spaces that are frequently kept closed up. Mildew grows where there is little air movement, and in damp, warm conditions. Mildew has a musty smell and can eventually leave unsightly stains. Common spaces to have mildew issues are basements, bathrooms, kitchens, closets, and crawl spaces.
The key to fighting mildew and musty odors in your lake house is eliminating excess moisture. Try the following steps:
When you arrive at the vacation home, if weather conditions are favorable, open the windows to get some fresh air circulating. When possible sleep with the windows open.
Take short showers and run the exhaust fan so the bathroom doesn’t steam up too much. The warm shower moisture makes a perfect environment for growing mildew.
Following showers and swims, hang towels outside to dry and make sure they are completely dried before bringing them inside.
If you do any indoor cooking while at the lake house cover the pans with lids to avoid adding extra moisture to the inside air.
Before leaving to head home, put trays of kitty litter over the air vents to help absorb moisture. You could also use open bags of charcoal or sidewalk chalk placed throughout the house to absorb moisture and odors.
When you leave the house you probably unplug the refrigerator, when you do, leave the door partially open and put crumpled newspapers in it to keep the musty smells away.
Leave the dishwasher propped open so it can air out completely and avoid mold growth.
During the summer months the air conditioner helps to lower the level of humidity in the house, leaving it running while you’re gone will help to eliminate mildew problems. A dehumidifier in the warm months will also reduce moisture levels.
Leave doors in the house open to encourage ventilation and air circulation.
Putting ceiling fans or bathroom fans on a timer to run about 12 hours a day will help to keep the air moving which is extremely important in removing moisture and odors.
If you follow the above tips your lake house, or vacation home, is sure to smell much better for your next visit. If you follow these steps and the problem persists then you might need to contact a qualified home inspector to check for moisture build up on insulation in the wall or ceiling spaces.