As much as we would like to freeze time and keep it summer forever, time keeps ticking and the fall is fast approaching with winter soon to follow. Many homes on the Cape are closed for winter and need a lot of preparation to ensure they are safe from the harsh weather. One thing that is often overlooked in homeowners’ preparations is the steps needed to prevent mold growth during the winter months. Here are a few helpful tips to prevent mold growth before you close up for the winter:
1. Prepare the outside of your home.
Turn off the water to outside faucets and drain hoses before storing them. You should also close the fireplace shafts and dampers to avoid anything debris coming down the chimney. Finally, make sure your gutters are completely clear and downspouts are angled away from your home.
2. Turn off the main water supply.
Pipes can freeze and burst during the winter if they are filled with water and the heat is off. So, turn off the main water supply and open all faucets and drain them of water. The Cape gets very cold during the winter so you may even want to drain the toilets and water heater.
3. Set the thermostat.
It may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a warm house will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 55° F and 58° F.
4. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
Some people choose to empty them completely, and turn off the unit for the season. If you do this, be sure to prop the doors open to prevent mold growth inside. If you decide to leave the fridge on, do not leave anything in it that may spoil if the power goes out. This can be especially dangerous if you leave food in the freezer and lose power for an extended period of time. When the power goes back on, the food will refreeze, and you won’t know that it was defrosted and probably rotted.
5. Clean throughout the house.
Be sure to remove all trash, clean the towels and linens, vacuum, and scrub every room. It may seem like a lot to clean the whole house before you leave, but those little crumbs in the carpet can attract bugs and a little bit of mildew in the shower can turn out to be a whole lot of mold later. Make sure your towels and linens are completely dry before you store them.
If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to have a friend or neighbor stop in periodically throughout the season to make sure everything is all set. Follow these steps and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you won’t open the doors to any unwanted surprises next year!