Mold…even the word is off-putting. It grows quickly, spreads easily, and can cause respiratory issues. If you’ve ever dealt with a mold issue in your home, you know how stressful and costly it can be to remove it. Now what if this same issue happens in your vacation rental? Yeah, mold can be a pretty hard blow to your business as it is a serious threat to the health and safety of your guests and contracted or partnered staff. The good news is you can treat mold if present and take preventative measures to protect your property against it.
What Is Mold?
Basically, mold is a living organism that breaks down dead matter, like fallen leaves. It spreads by way of tiny spores unable to be seen by the naked eye that travel through the air in search of moist surfaces where they can grow. Although helpful in nature, mold is hazardous to your vacation rental as it can damage or destroy parts of the home that are infected.
Most importantly, mold can stir up allergies, cause lung infections, produce flu-like symptoms, and threaten serious respiratory issues. The longer you’re exposed, the worse things get; however, any amount of exposure can prove dangerous, which is why it’s imperative to recognize, treat, and prevent mold in your vacation rental to protect your guests, your staff, and yourself.
Signs & Symptoms of Mold
Mold can only grow in places with moisture, and once it takes root, it only takes 24-48 hours for signs and symptoms to develop. The most common sign that mold may be in your vacation rental is a musty odor as visible signs can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks to produce depending on the environment. However, just because you don’t smell mold doesn’t mean it isn’t present, so it’s important to keep an eye out for other signs of mold all the same.
Signs That Mold May Be Present in Your Vacation Home
- Musty odor
- Visible growth
- Damaged drywall
- Structural issues
- Peeling wallpaper
- Furniture stains
- Rotting wood
- Unusually damp areas
Equally important is to be aware of the physical symptoms associated with exposure to mold, which can be experienced whether mold is visible in the home or not. Elderly individuals, children, and those with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible. If you or anyone you know is experiencing the following symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms are only potential indicators of mold growth and can be associated with other conditions.
Symptoms That May Indicate Mold Growth
- Itchy eyes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Allergic reactions
- Memory loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin irritation
- Aggravated asthma
Treatment for Mold
With multiple groups of guests arriving and departing your vacation rental regularly, it’s important to address any mold issues properly and swiftly. If mold is located, quick action must be taken to halt its growth and prevent it from returning — with professional remediation.
While it’s tempting to grab the bleach and be done with it, unfortunately, bleach doesn’t destroy mold like you think and generally isn’t recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under normal circumstances. Bleach may kill the mold growth…but leftover spores remain regardless, and any hint of moisture could spark another outbreak.
Untreated properly, mold can spread into an even bigger issue throughout your vacation rental. And even dead mold can cause respiratory issues or allergic reactions in some cases. It’s crucial to hire a certified mold remediation company to ensure the mold is not only killed but also removed safely.
Steps to Treat Mold in Your Vacation Rental
- Move or cancel upcoming reservations. When signs of mold are present in your vacation home, moving or canceling reservations is an important first step. The safety of your guests and those working to clean and maintain your property is paramount.
- Turn off HVAC system. In order to avoid spreading potential mold spores throughout your vacation home, be sure the HVAC system isn’t running.
- Call in a specialist to test for mold if you’re unsure (e.g. you can smell mold but can’t find it). There are plenty of DIY mold tests out there that will save you money in the short run…but for the long haul needed to run your vacation rental business successfully, we recommend bringing in the experts first thing.
- Hire a certified remediation company. Let the pros handle killing and removing the mold so you can rest assured it is taken care of properly.
- Implement preventative measures. It is vital to reduce, and eliminate where possible, the chance of mold growth returning. There are many ways to help prevent mold in your vacation home discussed below.
- Welcome guests back to your safe property! The process to identify and remove mold depends on the size of the areas affected and can take a bit of time to remediate, anywhere from a few days to weeks, but once complete, you’re back in business.
For further insight, the EPA created an interactive mold house tour worth sharing. It shows common areas where mold can grow and explains how best to treat and prevent these issues.
How to Prevent Mold
The best way to combat mold in your vacation rental is to take measures to prevent it from growing in the first place. Overall, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends routine inspections for water damage and mold and addressing conditions that could cause mold to grow within a timely manner. With the following measures in place, your vacation rental will be safer from mold.
- Remediate Existing Mold
If you’re currently dealing with mold in your vacation rental, it is important to ensure no mold is present in the property before implementing any preventative measures. Once the home is completely cleared of mold by a certified mold remediation company, you can start the process of prevention.
- Consider Mold Resistant Materials
Another way to help prevent mold in your vacation rental is to utilize materials that help resist mold such as moisture resistant drywall, mold killing paint primers, porcelain flooring, moisture managing house wrap, and proper insulation.
- Control the Humidity
Damp areas are prime targets for mold to spawn. When humidity levels rise above 60% indoors, the chance of mold growing rises. Places that tend to have higher humidity levels include bathrooms, saunas, hot tub areas, crawl spaces, attics, and basements. Between 30-50% humidity is ideal to stop mold in its tracks, and using dehumidifiers is a great way to accomplish this.
- Ventilate Properly
High levels of moisture in the home can be caused by condensation. When warm air rises without proper ventilation, it condenses and dampens the surrounding area, which is optimal for mold to grow. Installing attic fans, a ridge vent on the roof, and bathroom fans can help moisture escape and circulate airflow to keep dampness at bay.
- Divert Water Away from the Home
Is your vacation rental property in a valley or low lying area? Is heavy rainfall and flooding an issue? Consider investing in a ground system, French drains, or barriers to channel water away from the home. Maintaining your rain gutters properly with routine cleaning and inspections (at least twice per year) is another way to keep unwanted water away from your rental.
Property Inspections with Cabins for YOU
Regular inspections go a long way in protecting your vacation rental against mold. With Cabins for YOU — a leader in vacation rental management — your vacation rental will be properly inspected by trained professionals who know what to look for to help identify existing mold and prevent mold growth in the future. Plus, we have maintenance staff and contractor connections to aid in mold remediation and prevention.
If you’re concerned about possible mold in your vacation rental and would like to develop a mold prevention plan to protect your property, staff, and guests, reach out to our Owner Relations team via an online message or over the phone at 1.800.684.7865 today. We would be happy to help!