|August 21, 2017||1 Comment|
The first time I arrived in Costa Rica during the rainy season I was shocked at how quickly things get damp and moldy. We had rented our house to someone while we were back in the U.S., but our renter had vacated about six weeks before our arrival. We made arrangements to have the house cleaned just after our renter exited the house, but this still meant quite a few weeks of the house sitting still with no movement or action or air circulation inside.
When we arrived at the house in the evening on our day of travel, we just assumed that it would be a bit musty. We intended to deal with any cleaning or settling in the following day after we got a good night’s rest. We were mistaken in assuming all of that. What we found was that there was a dampness all throughout the house. The three or four articles of clothing that we left behind had small pock-marks of mold all over them and our windows had some insects in them who came to reside after our tenant and the cleaner had left and locked up.
We knew immediately that we needed help. But before that we needed a bite to eat and a good night’s sleep. We went down to the bottom of the mountain and asked if there was room at our friendly local hotel (https://www.laprincesahotel.com/en/). Thankfully there was a vacancy so we dropped our bags, scored some food and then came back and slept until we were once again refreshed. We were fortunate to have a hotel so close as well as so accommodating. Had we lived some place more remote we might have found ourselves sleeping in our car!
What I have learned over the years is that circulation is an absolute necessity in combatting mold inside the house, particularly in the rainy season. If your house is vacant for more than a month it will simply become musty and moldy. Even if you have an extra room or two, it is important to air it out and check any linens on a regular basis to ensure that musty scent isn’t creeping into the room. Place linens in the sun on beautiful days and make sure you open and close windows regularly.
The best thing you can invest in to fight mold in your home is a dehumidifier and even better, to have a “dry room” where you house the dehumidifier. Our dry room is 8 ft x 10 and contains enough shelving to store all our clothing and linens for when we leave for any length of time. We literally place all our clothing, cushions, towels and anything leather inside the room. Be mindful of what and how your dehumidifier works as they need to be emptied of water regularly; especially in the rainy season. We have a tube which connects from the dehumidifier to the outside and empties itself on a regular basis. Regardless of this nice safety feature, it is a good idea to have someone check that it is functioning while you are away. Otherwise if something goes wrong you are back to square one with moldy clothing.
For a more low-tech approach a good way to handle storage of items which are in danger of becoming moldy is to invest in some vacuum storage bags. This is what we did directly after our experience. Not many people own a vacuum cleaner in the tropics, so it is good to ask around for when you are doing your packing. There are also some non-vacuum bags which are now available and can be purchased through Amazon. As long as the bags are sealed correctly, your belongings will survive any length of time away; it literally is as if they were in a dry room being protected by the dehumidifier.
Of course, there often is also mold to consider on the outside of the house which also becomes an issue in the rainy season and which needs to be treated differently. Our home in Costa Rica has a rather large area of concrete. It has been great for doubling the space of our home, but inevitably water tends to collect in various spots when the rains are heavy. Sweeping it away every day during the rainy season would simply not do the trick. As a result, we need to deal with the mold as it starts to happen. A mixture of bleach and water used with a steal brush will remove it along with a power washer. There are other remedies which I haven’t tried yet but claim to be used so that the mold doesn’t reappear. A quick Google search can help with this, but I am convinced that with the amount of rain we can get in the rainy season these methods might prove to be wasted efforts.
Check out the following 2 links for all kinds of remedies and good-to-know information about how to treat and prevent mold. And just remember, once the dry season hits your mold situation will no longer be an issue; if you don’t live on a paved road, your issue will literally become dust!
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