Summer has always been prime vacation season. But this year, there’s an extra level of anticipation for many people looking to have their first getaway since the pandemic began. Surveys show that an increasing number of people are ready to travel, which means vacation property managers and owners need to be prepared for what could be a very busy season.
If you’re a vacation rental manager, chances are you already have sanitation and safety protocols in place to ensure that your guests feel comfortable during their stays. However, your preparations shouldn’t be limited to pandemic precautions. There’s another threat that has the potential to damage your properties and leave customers unsatisfied, especially in places that have lain dormant this past year. Summer isn’t in full swing yet, so now is the time to ask: Are you doing enough to manage humidity in your properties?
The Negative Effects of Humidity That’s Too High—or Low
Humidity is more than just an uncomfortable reality of summer. It can have a significant impact on your property and guest enjoyment.
Take mold, for instance. It can start growing at 60% relative humidity levels, quietly spreading throughout a property and doing plenty of damage before you even realize it’s there. That damage that usually costs $15 to $30 per square foot to repair. Before you know it, you can spend thousands of dollars on a single property, just to remove mold.
That doesn’t even account for the health issues that can arise. If your guests are sensitive to mold, they might experience a variety of irritations, including sneezing, runny noses, and rashes. For those who have asthma or severe allergies, mold can trigger more worrisome symptoms, including shortness of breath and asthma attacks. That’s not the vacation experience you want guests to have.
High humidity isn’t the only thing you need to watch out for. If a property is too dry, it can lead to cracked skin, chapped lips, and scratchy throats. In the winter, low humidity also makes it more difficult to stay warm, potentially driving up heating bills. Low humidity also can warp woodwork and peel wallpaper.
Neither extreme is something you want to inflict on your guests or your vacation properties. That’s why you should make humidity management a top priority for your properties, especially as we head into prime vacation season.
Stay on Top of Humidity Levels and Combat Mold
The good news is that managing humidity isn’t extremely complex. By taking the following precautions, you can ensure your guests are comfortable and your vacation rentals are mold-free all year long.
1. Invest in smart thermostats.
Many smart thermostats come with humidity control features that can act as your first line of defense. Not only do smart thermostats give you the ability to monitor humidity from anywhere, but they also can automatically cool unoccupied units when necessary to prevent humidity levels from getting too high.
2. Supply humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
Guests most likely won’t bring this equipment with them from home, so if you want them to be able to adjust humidity levels in your units to their comfort, you need to supply humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Make sure to explain to residents when and how to use them. You can also hook this equipment up to timers or smart outlets to take the responsibility out of your guests’ hands entirely.
3. Perform annual mold tests.
The problem with having a mold issue is that you often don’t know you have one until it’s done major damage. By performing annual mold tests, you can catch problems before they become disasters. There are kits available for you to collect samples yourself, but you should hire a professional to test and remove mold if there are already clear signs of spread on a property.
4. Stay on top of HVAC maintenance.
HVACs that aren’t performing at optimal levels provide opportunities for mold growth. Perform regular maintenance—including frequent changes to your air filters—to ensure everything is working properly. If you’re concerned about the state of your HVAC, consider investing in a smart property automation system that provides analytics on how your HVAC equipment is performing, and provides early alerts about any repairs that need to be made. This lowers repair costs, prolongs the life of your equipment, and keeps guests happy!
It’s especially important this year to provide vacationers with a safe, comfortable environment they can relax in. That includes making sure humidity hasn’t run amok during the off months. Luckily, this problem is more than manageable with the right solutions in place in your vacation properties.
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com and the leader in enterprise property automation solutions for long- and short-term managers of single-family and multifamily rental properties. Outside of having a lifelong passion for technology, Mr. Miller has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IoT/home automation technology.