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Solving the Mold Problem on your Boat - bilge vacuum pickup pad

Problem with mold and mildew on your boat? Us too!

We have had a problem with mold and mildew on our boat every summer since we purchased it in 2005. I have been making changes to our boat to solve this problem. Here are the three modifications that I have made to our boat, which have eliminated our mold and mildew problems.

Boat Modifications:

1. Install the Arid Bilge Vacuum System

One modification I made was to install the Arid bilge vacuum system on our boat last fall (2015) after the boat was pulled out of the water for the winter. I was impressed with how this bilge vacuum removed all of the water from our bilge. I wasn't sure how well the bilge vacuum would work once the boat was back in the water in 2016. Well, I am EXTREMELY IMPRESSED with how well the Arid bilge vacuum system works. Our bilge has been completely dry all summer. It is so nice to look into the bilge and see that it is bone dry.  Our boat smells so much better, and there is no longer that musty smell when you open up the vessel after it has been closed up for several days.

In a typical boat with wet bilges, the warmer daytime air accelerates evaporation. As the sun sets, the boat's air temperature would fall below the dew point, resulting in condensation throughout the nighttime hours. There is little to no evaporation in a vessel without bilge water, which results in air temperature inside the boat climbing slightly higher, but it's a dry heat, which drives the humidity out.

Arid Bilge System Series 1 Installed             Dry Bilge with grey Pick-up Pad

Arid Bilge System Series 1 Installed / Dry Bilge with Arid Bilge System Series 1 - grey pick-up pad

2. Reduce the Amount of Water in the Bilge - Ice Box/Cooler Drain

Another modification was to change the drain on our icebox. It used to drain directly into the bilge. I modified this by connecting a manual hand pump to the icebox drain and is installed on our galley sink. The manual hand pump now pumps the water out of the icebox into our galley kitchen sink, draining out of the boat via a thru-hull. The nutrient-rich water no longer enters the bilge and reduces the amount of water present in our bilge. We no longer have all the water from melting ice ending up in our bilge, which was a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Galley sink with hand pump      Ice Box Manual Pump

The hand pump is on the right side of the sink.  The icebox is on the right-hand side in the above pictures.

3. Add More Cabin Ventilation

The last modification I made was to add more ventilation to our cabin. I did this by cutting horizontal slots in our Companion Way Glass. I added a screen and a louvered vent to the outside of the companionway glass. This change allows much higher airflow through our cabin when we are away from the boat when all the windows and hatches are closed. The existing solar vent fan now pulls more fresh air through the cabin preventing the air from getting moist and humid, which would promote mold and mildew. 

Companionway Glass Vent Slots         Companionway Glass Stainless Steel Louvered Vent

Slots in the companionway glass  /   Louvered Stainless Steel Vent on the outside

Cleaning Item:

This spring, while our boat was in the yard, I had a carpet cleaner come to our boat and professionally clean the carpets on the walls of our v-berth.  At one point in the past, we had a leaking lifeline fitting, which caused the rug to get wet and caused mildew to grow on the carpet, which I had fixed. The cleaning removed all of the stains on the carpets, and it looks and smells so much better.


Our boat cabin smells so much better now that I have made these three modifications to our boat, and we have NOT had any mold or mildew in the cabin this summer (2016).  I have finally beaten our mold and mildew problem.  The key to solving the problem was to remove water sources in the boat bilge and increase the airflow through the cabin to prevent the air from becoming humid as the boat heats up and cools down throughout the day.

Another advantage of no longer having a wet bilge or having mold and mildew present is that there will be less maintenance on the boat. Excess moisture tends to create more maintenance on various systems. Preventing mold and mildew on your vessel will reduce the maintenance work that is required.  No more having to clean the mold, which, as we all know, is a dirty job.  Having made these modifications to our boat can enhance the vessel's resale value and make the boat more appealing because it looks and smells better.

If you have any questions regarding your boat and how you might improve the airflow or remove standing water in your bilge, please feel free to Contact Us Here or call me at (802) 734-3389.

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