Print Posted on 15/05/2017

Top tips for removing and preventing mould in your home

Top tips for removing and preventing mould in your home

With the weather getting cooler and extra condensation forming in our homes, mould can start to become an issue, especially for those of us with older houses. Thankfully, there are ways you can stop mould in its tracks before it becomes a much bigger problem.

Mould is a fungal growth that grows in homes under the right conditions of dampness, darkness & poor ventilation. Bathrooms and kitchens seem to be the most affected areas of the home, as well as cluttered storage or basement areas. Walls, timber, carpet, furniture and fabrics can harbour mould if they stay damp for extended periods of time.

According to the Department of Health, not everyone is affected by mould, however it can emit particles that may cause some people to sneeze. Toxic moulds produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks. Some studies claimed that exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure may be particularly harmful.

Symptoms caused by mould allergy may include respiratory illness or asthma; watery, itchy, red eyes; chronic cough; headaches or migraines; rashes (dermatitis); tiredness; sinus problems; and frequent sneezing.

The Department of Health advises that there are four main ways of controlling condensation and mould within the home – ventilation, heating, insulation and removal.

Ventilation

  • Open windows and doors to ventilate the home and reduce the humidity level.
  • Install and use mechanical ventilation (exhaust fans) that are vented to outside air, particularly in the bathroom and in the kitchen while cooking.
  • Consider installing ventilation over appliances producing moisture, such as dryers, stoves, &kerosene heaters, or leave windows ajar while they are on.

Heating

  • Keep indoor moisture low. Relative humidity should be below 60% (ideally 30%-50%).
  • Maintain low constant heat when weather is cold or wet. Continuous, even heating is better than short bursts.
  • Install heating in the bathroom such as heat globes.

Insulation

  • Condensation forms more easily on cold surfaces, for example walls and ceilings. In many cases, those surfaces can be made warmer by improving insulation.
  • Insulate hot and cold surfaces, such as water pipes.

Removal

  • Eradicate mould when it occurs. It is hard to remove when it has been there a while.
  • Do not dry brush the area. This could release spores into the air which can spread the mould further as well as cause an allergic reaction in some people.
  • There are several treatments for mould:
    - Tea Tree Oil is effective. A 3% solution or 2 teaspoons in a spray bottle with 2 cups of water will suffice. Shake well before each use.
    - Kill mould from surfaces with an 80% white fermented vinegar solution (available from supermarkets). After applying the mixture, leave for at least 20 minutes and then lightly sponge with clean water.
    - Remove the mould physically. Killing, but not removing the mould may allow it to grow back.
    - Don’t use bleach. Bleach has a high pH which makes it ineffective to kill mould. It simply bleaches it, so it looks like it has disappeared.
  • The only lasting cure for mould is to reduce the dampness.