Vacations & Your Indoor Air Quality

The car is packed up, family ready and months of planning are coming to fruition! It’s time for your yearly family vacation. The last checklist in place, you walk through your house to check for safety; the stove/oven is off, the iron is unplugged, the doors are locked. Then, as a final item, you turn off your air conditioning so you aren’t paying to cool a house when you are gone. Sadly, this last step can lead to poor indoor air quality and mold for an unpleasant return home. Follow these three simple steps to prevent your house becoming a problem during your vacation!

Oftentimes, all mold needs to grow is high humidity. What you didn’t know is that your HVAC system acts as a dehumidifier for all the air in your house. By turning off the system, the air no longer circulates in the home and, as a result, becomes stale and saturated with moisture. Before you leave for your trip, instead of turning the air conditioning off, turn it down so you still save on the cooling bill, but still circulate and condition the air within the house.

When turning the A/C down, we change the airflow of the home, making the air less filtered and less circulated.  The second action before leaving your home for an extended period of time is creating circulation. This can be achieved by strategically placing oscillating fans throughout the home, or simply by turning your ceiling fans on. Either of these methods work to increase the overall airflow that we generate when home. Keep these devices on low settings to limit the bill and prevent your stale air!

Basements are an issue. In the northwestern United States, many basements are subterranean and have a high humidity level regularly.  This is why supplemental dehumidification is necessary.  I suggest having a dehumidifier in your basement and set at 50% relative humidity. When choosing your dehumidifier, select one that is sized for your space and has a pump (this option allows the dehumidifier to run without waiting for you to empty it) and make sure the drain hose goes into a drain without falling out. I recommend setting this up at least one week before leaving to ensure your drain hose functions properly. Make sure that it is turned on and set accordingly before you leave.

Follow these three steps to ensure that you come home to a healthy environment when you return from your extended trips!

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