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Mold: A living nightmare

Holiday house mold prevention

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While the Florida lifestyle is the envy of many living in colder climates, our sub-tropical weather can do more than relax and soothe. Many homeowners find themselves stuck with an unwanted house guest - mold - as the seasonal temperatures heat up.

Stopping mold in its tracks is a challenge, but one that needs to be faced before the organisms damage equipment, destroy walls and floors, or affect the health of you and your pets. Cleaning and preventive maintenance of an air conditioning system is important in any climate, but it's imperative in Florida.

Mold can accumulate in several different areas of an air conditioning system, so it's important to have your unit checked and cleaned at least once a year. If mold is able to grow, the spore s will blow through the house, building up over time. This is particularly dangerous for people with asthma or other breathin g problems.

Most of us think we only need to prepare against mold if we're going away for the entire summer. Few realize that, under the right circumstances, mold can form in just 72 hours! Once it starts, it reproduces every six minutes.

Generally speaking, if you're only leaving for a week or two in the summer, just set your thermostat at 80 or 82 degrees and you should be okay. If you plan to be away for a month or longer, that's when it would be wise to take further precautionary measures and also run your dehumidifier.

Rick and Jaye of Punt a Gorda know far too well the havoc that mold can wreak on a home. Their nightmare - the death of one of their precious pet dogs, the illness of their other dog, and the near destruction of their home - began with a missing vapor barrier underneath their mobile home. It was soon clear that the problem was much worse than they had imagined.

Many capable companies can come in and help take what was a nightmare, and turn it into a voyage. With our home essentially destroyed and our little family still grieving over the death of our dog. "We were determined to seek out and find the reasons for the mold and to get it remediated," says Rick. His wife, Jaye, added, "We are now in the process of replacing all of our walls and much of our furnishings-no easy task for us seniors".

This couple are not the only ones whose lives were upended by mold damage. Mike and his wife arrived at their winter home in Venice to find it completely overrun by mold.

"Everything was black," Mike says, "including the silverware. It was a nightmare just opening the front door. We never even walked into the house, but went directly to my sister-in-law's home and called the professionals."

He continues, "We did everything right, or so we thought. The biggest mistake we made was not having someone come in and check on the place periodically. We had to have everything removed - walls, flooring, kitchen appliances, furniture - it was a disaster"

When professional trades people were called to come check the equipment and the settings on the A/C and dehumidifier, they responded immediately. Mike had high praise for the company for addressing the issues and assuring the couple that their mold days were over.

5 Easy Steps to Reduce the Chance of Mold

  1. The fan switch on your thermostat needs to ALWAYS be set to "AUTO." Humidity increases 10-15% when set to "On."
  2. Make sure your dehumidistat is set properly. Billy recommends a setting of 50% and 80g degrees on your thermostat when you are gone on vacation.
  3. Always have someone check the home, and make sure they know what they are looking for and that they understand how a dehumidistat and thermostat work.
  4. Always listen to your FPL bill; it tells you what is happening. If there is a change in Kilowatt usage, there is a reason.
  5. Go online or call us and get a copy of "How to prepare your home before you go," then follow the suggestions.