Published August 15, 2013
After an extended period of autumnlike cool air gripping much of the East, summer heat will return to end the month of August. While the heat may mean more people get out of their homes to enjoy the great outdoors, it also means some invasive problems may decide to leave the outdoors and enter your home. High humidity and heavy summer rainfall can also contribute to summer homeowner problems.
Homeowners should take special precautions to ensure that mold, water, insects and rodents don't damage their property in the warmer, more humid and wet days of summer.
Portions of the Plains and mid-Atlantic have been very wet recently, causing growing concerns for homeowners. Portions of Kansas and Missouri have been deluged by more rain during the first couple of weeks of August than they typically receive in an entire summer.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has shattered its previous rainfall record for the summer with a total of 27.55 inches of rain falling since June. The city has received more than double its normal summer rainfall, which is less than a foot. The most recent round of heavy rain and storms on Thursday caused widespread flash flooding in across eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.
One of the biggest problems that homeowners may face in the summer months is a mold infestation. Warmer temperatures and higher humidity teamed up with summer rainfall can create the perfect habitat for mold to grow in homes. Mold can damage the structure of your home and your possessions and can pose health risks. Once it starts to grow, it can spread quickly and may be difficult to treat.
According to Tommy MacDonald, executive producer and host of "Rough Cut: Woodworking with Tommy Mac" and contributor to RenovateYourWorld.com, the key to saving yourself the hassle of dealing with mold is to eliminate places for it to grow. Shower replacements placed over the old shower, for example, could create an unventilated space for moisture to get trapped. Mold could begin to grow in that space and start to seep into the walls.
Mold renovations. Photo by Angela Schmeidel Randall
By properly maintaining home ventilation and preventing spaces for moisture to collect, mold growth may be prevented. He noted the importance of having a ventilation system that allows air to flow outside and not just into an attic space for this to be effective.
If mold does begin to show in your home, the best chance for eliminating it is to call a professional. Bleach may be used to wash it away from walls, but if the mold is growing from inside the walls or foundations, it may require extra work to remove completely.
Like mold, summer heat and rain also force insects and rodents to migrate into homes. The most important step to preventing insects from entering the home is to take away their easy access points. Weather stripping is a key step for not only keeping insects out of the house, but also preventing moisture that can make your home more habitable to them. Properly screening doors and windows will also help to keep bugs away.
MacDonald suggested removing areas of stagnant water from your property to prevent mosquitoes and adding birdhouses to your yard.
"I put a couple [birdhouses] up myself this summer, and I couldn't believe the decrease in mosquitoes," he said.
Other insects, such as bees, may make your home their home if they can find an existing space for themselves. Rodents will likely do the same, finding holes they can enter and creating nesting space. If you are noticing many insects or other pests in your home, it is necessary to find their access point by searching your home for holes or cracks.
Basement flooding is often a problem for homeowners during summer storms. It's important to recognize where the entry point is for the water. There may be cracks in the foundation, or the ground may be too high, which allows water to pour down through windows or other openings. Along with fixing the entry point for water to enter the basement, french drains may also be installed to help keep water from pooling.
If flooding is slight, MacDonald said that fans and dehumidifiers typically work well enough to dry out the area. For significant flooding, however, walls and insulation may need to be replaced. If the house has metal frames, they should be fine, but wooden frames will need to be dried out.
While many of the problems of summer come from issues relating to moisture, heat can also take a toll on your homes.
"The most important thing is to make sure your roof is properly ventilated," MacDonald said.
Good ventilation will help keep heat from causing warped or melted roof shingles. Vinyl siding is also susceptible to damage in high temperatures; if it appears to bubble, it is a sign that it was not installed properly. The heat then makes it expand and could cause it to warp.
To help keep the inside of your home cooler, MacDonald stated that having good shades on your windows can go a long way to keeping your home more comfortable without running up the electric bill.
For more information on home care and renovations, visit RenovateYourWold.com, and watch the new season of Rough Cut: Woodworking with Tommy Mac airs in October on PBS.