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Are you prepared to close your Florida home for the season?

Closing your Florida home requires organization and preparation before you leave for an extended period of time. Homes that are left unoccupied are more susceptible to moisture, which creates the possibility for mildew growth. Mildew is a living organism that is air borne, and is found everywhere in South Florida.

Mildew growth
Florida’s climate creates the possibility for mildew growth. Mildew can be found in dirt, dampness, darkness, and places where there is stagnant air.

Mildew grows on organic materials such as wool and cotton in blankets and clothes, at temperatures between 77 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and in rooms where the relative humidity is 70 to 90 percent. Mildew can also grow in oxygen-starved spaces like closets, basements, and garages. Ideally, relative humidity should be 60 percent or less.

How can you control mildew growth in your home?
Mildew is everywhere in South Florida. However, here are some things you can do to control the growth of mold and mildew in your home while you are away:

  • Keep Moisture out by closing vents, removing plants, and sealing your toilets and drains.
  • Clean/remove mold and mildew before you leave.
  • Use chemical mildew inhibitors.
  • Use a dehumidifier (should operate at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and properly drained).
  • Run central air conditioning for at least 2 hours per day.
  • Set thermostat between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Controlling mildew with chemicals
Chemicals known as desiccants help control mildew growth. Desiccants are only affective in small tightly closed areas. Commonly used desiccants include silica gel and calcium chloride. You can also use products commonly found in your home. These products include, bleach, alcohol, sodium hypochlorite products such as Tilex, Scrubbing Bubble, and Soft Scrub. Always read directions before using chemicals. Remember, NEVER mix bleach and ammonia

An alternative solution that is non-toxic that can be used to control mildew growth is hydrogen peroxide:

  • Mix one part of hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle
  • Spray areas on areas with mold
  • Wait at least 1 hour before rinsing or using shower

Do not become a victim while you are away
Your home should appear to have a lived-in appearance. Burglars are most likely to avoid houses that appear to have active residents at home. To discourage burglars: inhibit entry by intruders. Secure all doors with a dead bolt or jimmy-proof lock, and protect your valuables. Place valuables in a safe deposit box, or take them with you.

Closing your home-check list
Use a checklist to help you in preparing to close your home. The list should be used a guide to help you close and secure your home while you are away.

Before you leave your home, you should check your insurance policies for protection against burglary. Check to see if theft protection is provided and if your valuables are adequately insured. Be sure to read the fine print.

Finally, before you leave your home, complete an up-to-date inventory of your home for the season. Do not store inventory list in your home. You should take it with you.

For more information, please visit http://discover.pbcgov.org/coextension/FACS/Housing/Home-ClosingChecklist.aspx 

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