Mould and mildew can be the bane of a homeowner’s life, especially if it develops before you can stop it. In fact, many homeowners see it as such a chore that they leave it alone, festering in the garage, behind the washing machine or on the bathroom ceiling. But mould and mildew can cause significant damage to your home if left untreated, not to mention the damage it could cause to your health too. Structural damage caused by mould can be extensive, especially if the mould is in the walls and has gone untreated for some time, so it’s essential you know the signs and preventative measures you can take against it. But how to you fight mould in your home? Well, it’s an ongoing, 3 step process:
The first thing to bear in mind is how to prevent mould and mildew in the first place. If you already have a problem you will likely do this step last, but ideally, you would do some preventative care before it became a problem. For example, you can prevent mould and mildew by drying your clothes outside or in a tumble drier. Condensation is one of the biggest cause of mould problems in the home, and a single load of washing releases over 2 litres of moisture into the air in the form of condensation. This is why we see mould problems blossoming in winter, when clothes don’t dry outdoors. Always use extractor fans and ensure you open windows in your kitchen during cooking, and close the doors while taking showers or baths. If your home is particularly prone to moisture problems, you can use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to control the moisture content in the air.
Spotting A Problem
Of course, sometimes preventative care isn’t enough, especially if the previous owners/tenants weren’t as careful as you. If this is the case, you need to spot a mould problem and deal with it quickly, before it becomes too invasive. Luckily, there are a few warning signs for mould that you should be on the lookout for:
- Strange Smells: Mould has a very pungent smell to it, and this is usually the thing that tips people off first. When it’s confined to one area, you might notice an unpleasant odour when you’re in that area. Mould can sometimes live in the walls of behind wallpaper, so it can be difficult to associate the smell with mould right away. So if you do notice an unpleasant smell with no immediate cause, it could be mould.
- Appearance: In your shower or bath, it is relatively easy to distinguish normal soap scum form mould. But in garages or kitchens, it’s not so easy. Mould is most likely to appear in damp areas, so if you have a wall or floor where dampness collects, or there has been a history of leaks, mould could very well be there as well. Black mould appearing on cold surfaces, such as outside walls or around window openings, is often indicative of condensation.
- Health Problems: Because mould isn’t always visible, it can be difficult to find. But mould causes health problems over time, which are a big red flag for many people. If you feel listless, congested and experience watery eyes in your home (and it’s not hay fever season) you might have mould. If you feel better away from home or at work, this is an even clearer indicator of a mould problem.
Getting Rid Of It
If you do find that you have a mould problem in your home, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible. Most people assume that if you clean the mould off, the problem is solved. But after a few months or even weeks, they will see the mould coming back, because the underlying problem hasn’t been solved. So before you tackle the physical manifestations of mould, you need to install a permanent way to ventilate the air and reduce moisture. This can be something as simple as installing an extract fan however dependant on the extent of the problem you may need to invest in a dehumidifier, or air conditioning to treat the air in your home. If the mould is caused by a leak, you may have to have plumbing work done, repair a leaking roof.
Once the underlying problem is taken care of, you can tackle the visible mould. You need to be careful here, because a single foot of mouldy wall can be home to more than 300 million mould spores, which can cause you huge health problems if you breathe them in. Make sure you are wearing a good respirator, have any external windows or doors open (but keep internal ones shut so you don’t blow spores through the house. Remove everything you can from the room so that the spores don’t find a home there when they are disturbed, and clean away the mould with sterilising cleaners. If you have mould within your drywall or floors, you will need to hire in a professional to get rid of it.
At Goodyer, we work with home and business owners who are suffering from mould and mildew problems. We can provide consultation, diagnostic and remedial work to remove mould infestations, as well as providing advice on preventative measures. If you would like more information or advice about tackling mould in your property, get in touch with us today.