The building science professionals at Indoor Environmental Consultants (IEC) offer tips for preventing property damage when vacation homes are vacant.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer vacation. Many people with vacation properties in Texas and along the Gulf Coast have now left their second homes for what may be weeks or even months. Unfortunately, these seaside homes, condominiums, and country ranches can turn into a costly nightmare if water damage occurs while people are away. Even a small water leak can turn into a major event.
Property damage due to water can be devastating and to make matters worse, mold will typically begin to grow in less than 48 hours on most building materials, furnishings, and household belongings. Elevated levels of mold can cause a wide range of indoor air quality issues and health concerns. Its presence can dramatically increase repair costs and many insurance policies either don’t cover mold remediation or allow for only minimal coverage.
Many potential sources of water damage can be averted by simply checking and preparing a vacation property before leaving it. For example, the building science and indoor environmental experts at IEC recommend vacation homeowners consider doing the following:
- Check the home’s interior and exterior for any signs of leaks and consider turning the water heater off or to vacation mode.
- Consider shutting off the water main to the home. If this cannot be done because of an automatic sprinkler system or other reason, shut off the valves to major appliances within the property.
- If the property has a well, consider shutting the pump off.
- Check gutters and downspouts for damage and any debris that may be causing obstructions.
- If the property has a sump pump, be sure it is in working order.
- During freezing weather be sure the heating system is operating properly and that any exposed pipes are insulated. It is also a good idea to drain pipes if the water has been shut off by running water faucets and flushing toilets.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to periodically check on the property and be sure they know where the water main shut off valve is located.
“Even if there is no water incursion, high humidity levels from the environment in a vacant vacation property can lead to mold growth and musty odors,” said Hollis L. Horner, President, Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. “Consider using air conditioning even when no one is there during the humid months to reduce humidity levels, but be sure its drain lines are not clogged.”
For those who do encounter water, moisture, musty odors, or mold issues in their property, IEC offers comprehensive testing and consulting services to identify issues and develop solutions. They have also sponsored an educational video about things property owners should consider before closing up their vacation homes for the season that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/YRqosW0SAFY
About Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc.
IEC began operations in 2001 with some of the nation’s most seasoned professional indoor air quality consultants who already had over 70 years of combined experience. The indoor environmental quality firm specializes in field investigations and assessments of commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Their services, related to fungal (mold), chemical, bacterial, asbestos and particulate pollutants, are offered throughout Texas, the Gulf Coast and the Southwest. IEC is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a mold assessment company (ACO0114) and an asbestos consultant agency (100329).