For the boat lovers out there, it’s disheartening to open your boat after it’s been stored over the colder months, you don’t want to be greeted with a musty smell or mold-infested interiors. After all, it can be expensive to replace cushions, carpets and headliners. Mold is unfortunately something that spreads easily, and add to that the fact that boats naturally contain spores, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So, let’s look into how to prevent mold during the time your boat is stored.
Keep Water Out
It’s much more attainable to prevent mold and mildew than it is to stop it. This is because mold growth is made faster when there is humidity and warmth, and once it’s there it can survive for years, even in the event that conditions change. Don’t think that mold is only a summer thing, it can grow when the sun is shining and it can grow in frigid temperatures too.
The key is to stop the spores from entering your home. It takes just one water leak to get the spores growing strong in your space. So rain leaking through the hatches and portlights is what makes a boat’s interior a prime place for mold to turn up. With this in mind, the first thing to do is to find and seal any leaks, the top places we see them are loose stanchions, portlights, windows and hatches. On smaller boats, chainplates and deck-stepped masts are common water leak spaces. Something else to keep an eye on is leaking deck hardware such as cleats, windlasses and rails.
Occasionally there isn’t anything you can do if the water enters your boat while you’re sailing (and to an extent in the exteriors this is true), but when your boat is stored, you have to be careful as well. Many people like to use a boat cover to stop their boat from succumbing to mold during storage months, and although the covers do well at keeping water out, they keep the air inside in, which can also cause mold.
Keep Air Moving
Mold thrives wherever the air is stagnant. So if you close your boat with a cover for four months in a row, don’t be surprised if mold is the thing to greet you. This happens because covered and unused boats generate moisture through condensation, and this happens when the temperature outside the boat and under the cover varies. So if the sun is shining outside, and the inside air is cold, you’ll get moisture. Then as the air sits over time, it becomes more and more stagnant and humid, allowing for mold to grow and spread. The only thing you can do to solve this is to allow outside air in.
There are multiple ways to do this, one is simply to open the boat cover, but this doesn’t guarantee air will circulate through the entire cabin. So many people prefer waterproof ventilation systems. The most popular choice (especially if boats are stored away from electrical outlets) are solar-powered vents, on the other hand, there are some that run solely on electricity. One vent is usually plenty for a smaller boat, but if your boat is larger, you’ll need two powered vents, one to pump air out and one to pump new fresh air in.
If you decide to use a ventilation system, you should remember that lockers should be kept open so they air out, and removing as much as you can from the lockers will allow for better ventilation. One other thing to remember is to never leave an unattended household heater on board, even if it’s winter, as they can easily catch fire and cause damage to your boat, other boats and the neighbouring area.
Other than just airing out your boat, you should consider reducing humidity with a dehumidifier. The most common are chemical dehumidifiers, which use calcium chloride to absorb and trap moisture all in one container. These tubs are often inexpensive, safe to use and easy to put wherever humidity is an issue and can be bought at most marine stores.
If you do decide on portable chemical dehumidifiers, you need to replace them after a few months, or they won’t be effective, and you need to have enough spaced out in all the right areas to cover your whole boat. Some people put these in boat lockers, rooms and where the air seems most likely to be still. This process takes a little bit of trial and error, but once you know where they go, it’s easy to make them part of your boat storage routine both during storage and while you’re using it.
What Items Should be Protected?
Mold can spread into items and materials quite quickly, so keep an eye on the things that should be kept safe and far away from mold, as they are often expensive and hard to replace.
Life Jackets: Vinyl is the most common material that life jackets are made of. And it’s susceptible to mold growth, as water can get stuck in nooks and crannies, especially if you forget to let them air dry, and if there are any tears or holes for water to seep into. So remember to air dry your life jackets and keep an eye out if they have tears in them.
Boat Covers: Most boat covers are made of canvas and are more likely to be a home for mildew and mold. This is why it’s suggested to clean your canvas cover regularly. The best thing to do is lay the cover down flat and use a marine-grade canvas cleaner to spray down the area before rinsing it. Then hang it out to dry completely before using it.
Seat Cushions: Seat cushions are a prime place for mold and mildew as they can hold moisture after you sit on them after a swim, or it rains. The best option is to wipe down the seat cushion straight away. This way, they remain more dry than wet, and this will allow for fewer chances for mold to grow. Also, when storing try to flip your seats to prevent mold from growing underneath as well.
Bedding & Mattresses: A regular home mattress isn’t always a great idea to use in a boat, as it can be a hotbed for bacteria growth, not to mention mold. The best option is to remove the mattress and store it separately or use a waterproof mattress protector or a mattress made for boats. Also, if you do decide to store the mattress when it’s not in use, remember to clean it before using it again.
Don’t Forget Dry Rot!
With all this talk of mold, it can be hard to remember dry rot. When wood is wet it allows for a fungus to slowly rot the wood entirely. It spreads fast and damages any wood it comes in contact with. Even if your boat is totally made of fiberglass; it still can be susceptible to dry rot. This is because fibreglass boats often come with wooden stringers and wall studs. After water hits wood, the fungus can start damaging the wood in as little as seven days.
Some signs of dry rot include things like brittle wood that crumbles when you touch it, as well as patches of rust-coloured dust and unpleasant smells. If you happen to catch the dry rot early, things are a little salvageable. You can use a fungicide like boric acid to treat the problem, otherwise, you will have to cut out all the damaged wood and replace it with pre-treated wood and this is an expensive process that takes a lot of time. So avoid this as much as you avoid mold, and keep your boat pristine for longer!
Does Boat Insurance Help?
Unfortunately, most boat insurance doesn’t cover mold. This is because boats are exposed to water so much, mold damage would happen so often the insurance company would go bankrupt with all the claims filed. So the only thing you can do is all the right steps to protect your boat from mold, as listed above. As usual, prevention is the best cure, so try to prevent mold from happening in the first place.
What if I Already Have Mold?
So if you check for boat mold cleaning experts, and you notice there are some, you have to call Flood Pro’s USA. You may be tempted to DIY the mold removal (and you will find a lot of products to do this at your local marine store) but this is not a good idea. To do things effectively and in a way that keeps the mold away for good, you need to call the professionals.
Flood Pro’s USA https://www.floodprosusa.com/ can get the job done for less, with more efficiency and mold is a recurring issue, so you can remove it permanently from your beloved boat.
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