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Mold and Mildew in an Unoccupied Home

December 19, 2022


One of the worse things that can happen to your home is the infiltration of mold and mildew. It can be hard to eradicate and can cause sometimes severe allergic reactions or health risks. Mold and mildew can sneak up on you, especially if you are away from your home for an extended period of time. The key is to catch it early—or prevent it from forming in the first place.

How to Avoid Mold and Mildew in an Unoccupied Home

Shut off Water

Look for leaks or areas where water may be seeping in, and remedy the leak. One way to prevent water leaks is to shut off the main water valve. You should always know where that valve is located in or outside your home, in case of an emergency.

Set the Thermostat

When the home is unoccupied, set the thermostat to between 78 and 80 degrees. Set the fan to Auto instead of FAN. You don’t want the fan to run all the time. (See our related post: Should I Run My AC Fan While I’m Away?)

Improve Ventilation

Ventilation and air movement are key. But when you’re away, you don’t want to leave windows open or cracked. Engaging a Home Watch professional ensures that movement occurs in your home’s air. If HVAC systems are left on, he or she can also inspect that these are running correctly to circulate air or remove humidity.

Reduce Clutter

Clutter can be a deterrent to good air flow and a harbor for mold and mildew. Ensure that there is adequate space in each room without crowding. Ensure that furnishings, curtains or belongings are not blocking air supply grilles.

Clean out the Refrigerator

One of the most often-forgotten places to prepare for your trip is the refrigerator. Toss out fresh foods and wipe down the refrigerator’s interior with a mixture of vinegar and water. This will help inhibit mold growth. Clean and disinfect your entire home prior to leaving.

Related: How to Identify Mold vs. Mildew in Your Home

Remove Moisture

Bedding, clothing, towels and other items that come into contact with humans can retain moisture and thus become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Before leaving for your extended period, ensure that items are clean, dry and stored correctly. If you have indoor plants, the soil around them also contains moisture. If you are leaving your plants in the home, have your Home Watch professional water them and check for mold growth.

Mold can grow best when the temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees and humidity is high. It requires moisture to thrive, so it is important to avoid wet conditions within the home

Related: How to Avoid Mold in a Vacant House

Manage Landscaping

Landscaping that grows too tall can cover windows, thus decreasing the amount of sunlight and creating dark and damp conditions. Trim bushes and branches away from the home and windows to increase air flow and sun access.

Eliminate Existing Mold

Check showers, tubs and toilets, and other areas where mold is apt to grow and eliminate mold that is present. Ensure that surfaces are dry when you leave. If you will be absent from the home for an extended period of time, you may consider turning off the water to the toilet and removing the water from the bowl. If water is present, mold will grow inside the toilet bowl and below the toilet seat.

Watch for Musty Odors

If you notice a musty odor within your home, it is an indication of the presence of indoor mold growth. Find the source and eliminate it before it becomes worse.

Golden Rule Home Watch Protects Your Home While You’re Away

Our Home Watch professional looks for signs of mold and mildew, and indications of leaks or dampness, on our visits to your home. Early detection can help prevent mold and mildew from forming or spreading throughout your home. Don’t leave your home unattended when you’re away. Contact Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge.