Mould is a major problem for homeowners and renters around the UK, with some experts estimating that one in every five renters in Britain has to deal with mould at some point during their occupancy. But what is mould, what causes it to grow in our homes, and is it dangerous to live in a house with mould? Do you need an independent damp survey and expert help to get rid of mould? And once it has gone, how can you stop it from coming back? These are just some of the questions we hope to answer in this guide to mould in your home.
What Is Mould?
While some mould may resemble moss and other tiny plants, mould belongs to the Fungi kingdom, which also includes mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, mildews, and smuts. Mould is part of the natural environment and its main purpose is to break down organic waste like dead leaves so that the nutrients in those materials can be returned to the environment. This makes them a vital part of ecosystems, as they not only prevent dead and decaying materials from building up and causing problems, but they also play a key role in the nutrient cycle and keeping ecosystems functioning as they should.
What Causes Mold To Grow In Homes?
While mould may not be a welcome guest, many homes provide the ideal climate for most kinds of mould to thrive. Mould does best in dark, moist, humid conditions with minimal ventilation, making basements, dark kitchen cupboards, and bathroom ceilings the perfect places for them to settle in and spread. Dampness in a house is a surefire way to attract mould, especially in older homes that suffer from rising damp. Treatment for rising damp is therefore essential if you hope to keep mould growth to a minimum in your home.
Mould Versus Mildew: What’s the Difference?
A mildew may be a mould, but not every mould is a mildew. Mildew refers to a group of specific kinds of mould, namely those that have a flat growth pattern. Both mildew and mould need similar conditions to grow in, and both spread through the release of spores into the environment. What separates mildew from mould is where they tend to grow, and how easy they are to get rid of. Mildew loves warm, moist surfaces, and common places in the home where you might find mildew is on fabrics, paper, and leather that weren’t dried after getting wet, as well as in the floors, walls, and ceilings of rooms that experience high levels of humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Can I Tell A Mildew From A Mould?
If you aren’t sure if you have mildew or mould growing in your home, look at the visual appearance of the growth. If it looks almost like white, grey, or brown flat powder, it is most likely mildew. If it appears to be a shade of green, black, or red and looks fuzzy or fluffy, it is most likely a mould. While both should be avoided, mould is a much bigger problem than mildew.
Is Mould Dangerous Or Bad For Our Health?
In short, yes. Mould can be extremely bad for a person’s health. People that are most affected by mould include infants, children, the elderly, people with compromised or weakened immune systems, and people with pre-existing skin problems, allergies, or respiratory problems. This is because moulds produce allergens that are released into the environment. If these allergens are inhaled, they can cause irritation, and allergic reactions, and can also induce asthma attacks.
What Mould Is the Worst For Your Health?
One of the most dangerous types of mould is Stachybotrys, also called black mould. Inhaling the spores from this mould can cause symptoms ranging from headaches, diarrhoea, and respiratory irritation to memory loss and severe respiratory damage. Children are most at risk from black mould as their lungs are still developing. If mould is a frequent problem in your home, consult a damp proofing London specialist. UK homes are especially susceptible to mould problems thanks to the cold, wet weather, and the lack of good ventilation in many houses.
What to Look Out For: Signs and Symptoms of Mould
Because of where moulds like to grow, you may end up feeling the side effects of exposure to mould before you spot it in your home. Physical symptoms include red or itchy skin and eyes, a stuffy nose, and wheezing. In people who may be more sensitive to mould allergens, reactions can be more intense, ranging from shortness of breath to fevers. Some common symptoms of mould to look out for in your home include damage to clothing and walls and ceilings. Moulds often emit an earthy smell, almost like rotting vegetation or wood. It can also appear musty, or stale, like an attic being aired out after months of being closed up. Different kinds of mould may present differently, so if you suspect you may have mould in your home, do your research so you can identify the type that you are dealing with.
Getting Rid of Mould
Once you know what mould you are dealing with, the next step is finding the right treatment for it. If caught early, most common mildews and moulds can be dealt with fairly easily. A solution of chlorine bleach or vinegar and water in a spray bottle will help kill off the mould before you take a stiff-bristled brush to the area. Once you’ve lifted it from the surface, a thorough rinse and dry should get the area clear. You may need to repeat the process a few times to make sure you eradicated it.
If the problem is more deep-seated, consider consulting with an expert who can either advise on solutions or come in and remove it themselves. Once the mould is gone, consider contacting a damp specialist for best results. If you are planning on buying or selling property, screening for mould is especially essential. An independent survey, property survey, or pre-purchase survey will include a mould or damp inspection, to give property owners peace of mind when making a purchase.
Mould is an issue that affects a huge number of homes. Don’t wait for your home survey results to start treating mould if you spot it in your home. Take action and protect your family from mould and its effects today.