Cottage Moisture and Mould Problems? 6 Ways to Cope!
A mould problem is the last thing you want to find lurking about your Muskoka cottage.
After all, the cottage should be your chance to escape and relax!
Somehow it must have missed the memo.
Unfortunately, your cottage could be quite vulnerable to mould due to its location.
For example, there is the risk of spring flooding due to rising water levels in the Muskoka Lakes.
There is also the risk of damage caused by fallen trees or branches. Many Muskoka cottages have trees surrounding them, making them more vulnerable. This means cottage owners must watch out for leaky roofs, windows and plumbing.
There is also the fact that many cottages are seasonal. In this case, the cottage owner leaves the property unoccupied for a large part of the year. But the harsh winter weather and a rainy spring can cause serious water damage during this time!
So while we’d like to tell you that your cottage is a safe haven from the risk of mould, that just isn't true.
But what we can tell you is how to cope with and prevent it - in just 6 steps!
1. Identify the smell.
First, it's important to identify the problem as mould before you assume that it is.
That smell could be from forgotten food in the fridge, poor airflow or dirty HVAC equipment. Often, these areas can develop an organic, dusty or stale smell - leading you to believe in a mould issue.
But don’t make that call just yet!
Here are a few tell-tale signs of mould:
- A musty odour (earthy smell, like rotting vegetables).
- Stains, buckling or peeling in your walls/ceilings.
- Green or black spots on walls, ceilings, carpets, around windows, etc.
If you’ve seen (or smelled) any of these signs, you’re probably facing a mould issue.
But don’t panic! Head to step #2.
2. Find the source.
Here’s the inconvenient thing about mould:
If you don’t find the source and remove the problem, mould will only reappear.
Since moisture is the top factor in mould growth, it is your first clue!
Look for areas where moisture could be getting in, such as a leaky window, a caved-in roof or clogged gutters.
Other hidden areas to check include your cottage plumbing, insulation or tile grout. Even behind your fridge can be a likely place for mould growth!
Once you’ve found the source of the issue, dealing with it is much easier.
3. Clean the area.
The next step is to thoroughly clean the area and remove the mould.
Safety Tips Before You Begin Cleaning:
- Where protective equipment (i.e. rubber gloves & goggles).
- Don’t allow your skin, eyes or clothing to come into contact with cleaning chemicals.
- Ventilate the area well before you begin (i.e. open a window or turn on an exhaust fan).
You can typically remove mould from hard surfaces using everyday products.
Here are a few options:
a) Use mild detergent and a microfibre cloth. Then thoroughly dry the area.
b) Use diluted vinegar and a microfibre cloth. Then thoroughly dry the area.
c) Use a bleach solution (1 cup household bleach in 1-gallon water) and a microfibre cloth. Then thoroughly dry the area.
Note: We only recommend using bleach if detergent and vinegar don't work.
No luck? If these solutions don’t work, you may need to book professional mould removal services.
4. Install a whole-house dehumidifier.
We recommend installing air quality systems once the area is clean and the mould removed.
The first is a whole-house dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers are great for managing moisture levels in your indoor environment. If humidity is too high, this can trigger the growth of bacteria, dust mites and mould. Too low, and it can dry out your body.
Typically, a healthy indoor humidity level is between 30-50%. This humidity level effectively prevents the growth of mould spores!
5. Install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).
The next step is to amp up your ventilation.
Our experts recommend upgrading your central HVAC system with a Lifebreath HRV system.
This system continually replaces stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This effectively keeps your cottage air fresh and clean This system also helps reduce humidity!
6. Attach HEPA air filtration or UV air purification to your HVAC.
The last air quality system we recommend is an air filtration or purification system.
These systems remove harmful particles - like mould spores - from your indoor air!
How do they work?
In short, HEPA filters work to filter out mould spores while UV purifiers deactivate them.
Both are great systems and can help in mould control and prevention.
Why Should You Remove Mould? Is it That Dangerous?
While mould is a naturally occurring substance, it can wreak havoc on buildings, materials and your health.
The Danger of Mould For Your Cottage
Mould thrives in warm, moist areas. Unfortunately, that puts many homes and cottages at risk!
According to the CDC, some likely places for mould to grow include:
- Leaky roofs, windows and plumbing
- Ceiling tiles
- Wood products
Mould can damage and even ruin these materials in your home - causing stains, rot, warping and caving.
More than that, it can be disastrous for your entire cottage season!
Mould causes costly repairs, creates a safety concern for visitors, and ruins summer plans.
No wonder it's such a hassle!
The Danger of Mould For Your Health
Living with mould can also cause several uncomfortable and potentially dangerous health effects.
Some adverse health effects of mould exposure include:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Coughing and phlegm build-up
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Worsening asthma symptoms
Studies also show that exposure to mould/moisture contributes to the development of,
- Other respiratory infections
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, we highly recommend discussing them with a healthcare professional.
Tips To Prevent Mould Growth in The Future
- Control the humidity in your home. According to the Mayo Clinic, your humidity levels at home should be between 30-50%
- Install exhaust fans properly. Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom(s) should always vent outdoors.
- Ensure your clothes dryer vents outdoors. If it doesn’t, the moisture can re-enter your laundry room.
- Repair any leaks in your cottage plumbing, roof or walls. These are ideal areas for moisture to grow.
- Always clean and dry out your home after a spring flood. Standing water can cause quite a bit of damage and mould growth.
- Use mould-killing products to clean your bathroom(s). These products kill mould spores before they can grow.
- Remove old, musty or dirty carpets and upholstery. These materials harbour moisture and can wreak havoc on your cottage.
- Ensure rain and snowmelt drain away from your cottage. Clean your gutters regularly and point your downspouts away from your foundation.
Contact Our GPHE Team
Don’t let mould ruin your cottage season. Get to the bottom of it!
Contact our GPHE team today to find out how you can help battle mould in your cottage. Our air quality specialists are happy to help you find the best product for your home and your budget.