Most cottages can smell a little musty, especially when they have been closed up for the winter. Combining a cottage that has been shut all winter, the Muskoka flood and the rainy season that cottage country has seen this year, it is safe to say that many Ontario cottagers are going to be dealing with water damage and mould this summer.
It is important to realize that mould is everywhere, it is a natural occurrence. The problem occurs when it becomes out of hand inside a cottage or home. It can become a serious health concern with the ability to cause severe allergic reactions and respiratory disease.
If you find mould at the cottage, abrasively cleaning it from a surface with a dry brush is not advisable as this could release spores into the air which can not only affect your health but also spread the mould to other areas of your recreational home. There are many products on the market that can help kill and remove mould from floors, walls and other hard surfaces. Everyday household cleaning products can be helpful if used properly. White vinegar used as a cleaning solution can also be effective against mould.
When it comes to porous items like couches, mattresses, carpets, dry wall and insulation the best bet is to throw them away – especially, if they have been wet for more than two days. The use of bleach on these types of items may not be that effective in killing mould. However, it will help minimise other disease causing organisms that may be present from contaminated flood waters. It is not recommended that you mix cleaning agents. If you mix bleach and ammonia, it can produce toxic fumes that will make you sick.
Mould spreads quickly but it cannot grow unless the environment is damp. With this in mind, it is important to take steps to control the humidity in your cottage. Actions like turning on the exhaust fan after a shower, running a dehumidifier and fixing leaks right away are important to take to minimize your chances of acquiring mould around the cottage.
If you are just building a cottage or recreational home, make sure that the ground slopes away from the foundation so water cannot pool and cause damage.
Perhaps the most important step you can take when dealing with a mould problem at your cottage is to know when to call in the professionals.
Floods and extended periods of rain are usually associated with moisture, long periods of humidity and pooling of water. These factors create an environment that compliments the growth of moulds. In Ontario’s cottage country, we have had an especially wet spring. Make sure that when you get up to the cottage, you take a look (and smell) around. If the musty smell is not corrected by opening the window, you probably have a mould problem and need to address it sooner rather than later.