The monsoon is a major event every year and the outdoors may look good and lush green. But because of the high humidity, the season is hard on houses, furniture, and the furnishings. Here are some of the things you can do to prepare your home to counter high humidity from spoiling the interiors.
Before the monsoon starts, is the time to inspect your house for leakages. Check your walls for damp patches or paint peeling caused by seepage. If you find any, track down the source of the water – if it’s high up on the walls or on the ceiling, it’s either pooled rainwater seeping in, or leaking water or sanitation pipes. Dampness on walls near the floor level is usually seepage from pooled water outside.
If the seepage is due to pooled rainwater, inspect the slope and rain gutter or drains, to ensure rainwater drains properly. These channels get clogged by sand and leaves in the dry season. A faulty slope can be fixed by a civil contractor experienced in waterproofing. Your contractor should advise you about the specialist waterproofing treatments available.
Leaking water or sanitation pipes are more serious, as they usually involve you persuading a neighbour to spend money to fix leakage that affects you. Though this is not directly related to the monsoons, it’s best done in the dry season, as the seepage dries faster.
Wooden doors and windows may warp in the high humidity. Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do once this happens, though using well-seasoned wood in construction may prevent it. If warping happens, wait till the end of the monsoon if you can, and then get a carpenter to fix it.
This season also favours insects and parasites that attack wood. An excellent treatment for wood, especially something exposed to the rains, like patio furniture or wooden decking, is a mixture of cashew oil and linseed oil. The cashew oil is a natural insecticide, and the linseed oil protects and brings out the grain. Cashew oil is poisonous, so be careful if you’re doing this yourself. Also, you should know that the cashew oil stains the wood, so check on a small concealed part before applying to the whole area.
Painted wood does not need any coating, unless the paint’s damaged. Iron furniture may need either painting or regular cleaning with rust removers, like WD40.
Placing moisture absorbers like silica gel packets inside your wardrobes also helps. A new product, http://www.absorbia.in/, has received rave reviews from my friends, and I’m trying it out for the first time this year.
3. Soft furnishings:
Fabrics, such as upholstery, curtains, and bedlinen, suffer the worst damage in high humidity. Fungus can grow on any of these, so regularly inspect upholstery and curtains, and dry clean or wash as appropriate. Extra bedlinen stored in cupboards are at risk. For these, vacuum bags are ideal. These are plastic bags that you put your clothing materials in, and zip-lock. Then you attach a vacuum cleaner to a special valve on the bag, and suck out all the air in the bag. These not only reduce the risk of mildew, but also compress bedlinen and even pillows to a fraction of their thickness. Put silica gel packets in these bags before you vacuum. Unfortunately, these bags are not yet widely available in India.
5. Electricals and Electronics:
Some electronic items are sensitive to high humidity. Check the manuals of your equipment for the humidity tolerances. If any of your equipment cannot operate in humidity above 80%, you may want to shut them off for the rainy season.
Do you have any tips that we may have missed? Write to us in the comments below and tell us how you prepare you homestays for the monsoons. Enjoy the rains!