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Old 01-06-2011, 11:57   #1
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Liveaboards and Mildew

I was curious about how you handle living aboard and deal with dampness, mildew, oder control and keeping fresh smelling clothing as well as keeping mildew out of your bedding and mattress? I here alot of people mentioning mildew and oder, but not how livaboards handle such things on a day to day basis.

Now that my wife and I are looking forward to living aboard in the future, we thought we would begin to get past the dreaming phase and begin to explore some realities.

Thanks in advance!

Ron
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:05   #2
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Ventilation is essential. At night an open porthole is imperative. The amount of moisture from your breathe is astonishing. As soon as I found any mildew I was on it with vinegar. I used a very strong mix of vinegar and water, cleaned the infected area and then wiped down the infected area with a clean mixture leaving it to dry.

Fans to move the air but fresh air is important even if it poses a heating challenge. If you are at a dock and can use electric heat it can help. Heating with flame sources makes more moisture although I understand a properly vented wood stove with dry wood can keep things dry.

Of course in summer just keep everything open.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:09   #3
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Insulation is your first preventative step, after that, ventilation is essential.
If you make moisture, let it out.
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Old 01-06-2011, 21:02   #4
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

I found a froli sleep system very helpful (tho expensive) to keep condensation from forming on the bottom of the mattress. It elevates the mattress enough for air to pass underneath it.

Also, Damprid (I think that is the name) is a product that takes moisture out of the air. Leave some in enclosed spaces or when you leave the boat - I found it helped a lot.
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Old 01-06-2011, 22:46   #5
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

After leaving the boat in mexico for the summer and again this year. Some tricks that are done by mexicans caring for boats that don't invest in a dehumidifier or A/C, is salt in a bowl to pull moisture from the air. Before having a dehumidifier everything felt damp all the time and our towels never dried. Clean and no water in the bilge is a key.
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Old 02-06-2011, 14:20   #6
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

"HyperVent" from Defender is a less-expensive ventilation than the Froli, its a 1-inch thick layer that looks like a snarl of plastic spaghetti, placed under all cushions, under books on bookshelves, etc. Clothing in vented plastic or wicker baskets *not touching the hull* or in large plastic bags. A layer of Reflectix (that silver bubble wrap insulation from a hardware store) can be used to line lockers that contact the hull. White vinegar as suggested above is your friend! We also use a spray called "Amazon's Amazing Mold & Mildew" (not Amazon the online company; this stuff is from your ships store although not sold at West Marine) - spray on a thin layer & let it dry. Of course if you can use electric heat and dehumidifier in winter and A/C in summer you're in great shape
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Old 02-06-2011, 14:45   #7
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

If you can find a company that imports parts to build computers you will be able to buy cheaply 12 volt computer fans. I got one for $5 to help ventilate a cupboard as a test, but didn't buy more, now they are hard to find where I am. The chandleries want $20 to $30 for them.

Cutting a hole where it can't be seen is easy and they use very little power.

My (nice) clothes in the wardrobe smell, so if I get an invitation to some zuzzy party its off to the dry cleaner for them.

I keep trousers under the mattress that presses them and they stay mildew free
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Old 02-06-2011, 15:10   #8
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Been living on my boat for about 18 months and have no such problems. Along with ventilation, if you're on the dock connected to mains power, I can't reccomend a decent de-humidifier enough. The amount of water these things pull out of thin air is amazing and I don't even live in an area that has high humidity.
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Old 02-06-2011, 15:22   #9
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

We lived aboard for 5 years. Unlike Mr Hummingway we found the use of a diesel bulkhead heater and circulating fans to be the best dehumidifier. Even when not living aboard, 24 hours of running said heater dries out the whole boat. Since we currently are not liveaboards, we keep a couple fan assisted dehumidifiers running in the cooler months, though we only have a few days below freezing a year. When I had smaller boats a well positioned incandescent light or two did the trick.
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Old 02-06-2011, 15:37   #10
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

I only ran mine in the morning and evening to take the chill off and I always got a lot of condensation. Maybe the secret is to run it long enough to dry things out.
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Old 02-06-2011, 16:38   #11
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Will you be living aboard or cruising? At a dock or at anchor? In the Caribbean or northern lattitudes?

Heaters and dehumidifiers are not solutions at anchor in the tropics. We live full time in the Caribbean and I will say it is the only annoying thing about the cruising life!
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Old 02-06-2011, 16:44   #12
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Effective devices for controlling temperature and humiduty will vary greatly with your location. Our forty years of living aboard have been mostly in Florida and our best battle against mildew is being aboard and ventilating. We do use "Damprid" for closed spaces as sck5 recommended and we follow the "Hummingway Plan". Our greatest potential for problems occur when we travel away from our closed boat.
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Old 02-06-2011, 17:10   #13
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

In addition to all the things above, you can use to old-style Lysol (in the brown bottle). This stuff kills everything (liquid autoclave) and won't eat holes in cloth. It is really great for the refrig and freezer seals. Dilute as recommended and spray on. Wipe up and leave the residue behind to fight future growth. Works in the laundry too.
I use Hypervent (from defender) under the bedding.
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Old 02-06-2011, 22:47   #14
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Re: Livaboards and Mildew

Quote:
Originally Posted by hummingway View Post
I only ran mine in the morning and evening to take the chill off and I always got a lot of condensation. Maybe the secret is to run it long enough to dry things out.
If it's diesel. If it's propane or alchohol or kerosine, it adds lots of moisture. Airflow is always good, when away I try to keep everything open that doesn't bring in the rain, which we get more days than not.
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Old 10-06-2011, 18:23   #15
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Re: Liveaboards and Mildew

A timely question. We've been living aboard since January. We have a few water leaks which certainly doesn't help the problem. A lot of airing, which was hard in the winter when we had a really cold streak with multiple days of below 0 (celsius that is; yes, I know we're still spoiled here in the PNW)

We had a large piece of the Hypervent underneath the mattress; however, we did not take care to size it perfectly. If there's any space where the mattress hangs over the edge, and touches the actual bunk, you will not get air circulation under there. We now have mildew in the middle of the mattress. We've purchased the Neptune slat system to go under the bed; you're supposed to get higher than with the hypervent, as well as it will fit our berth better. Will report back with results!

When we're at work, I try to leave a few of the locker doors open. That seems to have kept the mildew that was starting to build up in there under control.

We also have a Wallas diesel stove/heater. It draws air in from the cabin, helping to decrease the moisture content. We can tell a big difference in the dampness of the boat on nights we've been using it, and nights when we just use the electric.
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