None of us likes the thought of moulds and damp in our home even though we are probably quite happy to drink beer and wine or to eat bread and cheese made with it!
So why are some ‘bad’ and how can we protect against them?
What Is Mould?
Mould is a general term used for fungal growth which occurs on damp areas. There are many different species of mould – hundreds of thousands in fact – some of which are also generically referred to as mildew, rust, mushrooms, yeast, or fungus. Many moulds are beneficial to man – for instance penicillin saves lives – whilst others, such as one called Memnoniella, can be harmful.
Mould survives by digesting dead or decaying matter and so is very useful outside where it is active in helping to break down organic waste. However, for the same reasons, it is not something which we necessarily need inside the home.
Once mould takes hold, as long as there is moisture and nutrients present, it is able to spread very quickly by producing upwardly mobile filaments which release spores into the air. These tiny spores are easily carried until they find a new place to settle and if they find a damp area, then mould has a chance to proliferate in a new setting.
Mould In The Home
If you have mould in the home, it will be because there is also dampness. Anywhere which collects or absorbs water, leaving it damp, will be a possible breeding ground for moulds. Different types of mould can grow on different surfaces and common places for it to form are wood, food, fabric, and walls.
If you find mould in your home, try to identify where the source of water is coming from and fix that as a matter of priority. Leaky taps, poorly insulated wall cavities, a missing roof tile, and food which has been left out are all common causes for mould growth.
Once you have eradicated the source of the problem, then most surfaces can be cleaned and dried thoroughly. However, any absorbent materials, such as clothes, rugs, or mattresses, may have to be replaced.
How To Protect Against Mould
Mould cannot survive without moisture, so the most effective way to rid your home of mould is by eliminating excess moisture.
If your home hasn’t got a damp-proof course installed, then your home could be suffering from rising damp, causing moulds to form. You will need to ask an expert to fix this problem but other common sources of moisture can be easily tackled yourself.
Dry any areas of ‘natural’ condensation which forms in cold weather make sure your home is well insulated, draught-proofed and if practical, warm each room through in cold, damp weather. Fix any loose roof tiles, keep gutters clear, and make sure you have no dripping taps.
Allergic Reactions To Moulds
Damp and mould in homes can trigger allergic reactions in many people with common symptoms including itchy eyes, wheezing, rhinitis, tickly throats or more seriously, asthma. In fact the University of Birmingham has done some research to show that mould in the home can lead to the development of asthma in children.
Top Tips To Protect Against Moulds And Damp
- Open bathroom windows to prevent steam building up
- Use an extractor fan in the kitchen
- Ensure air is extracted outdoors from your tumble drier
- Don’t dry clothes over radiators
- Open windows and doors in warm weather to allow air to blow through and dry out any damp corners
- Insulate your windows
- Check your gutters to make sure they’re not blocked
- Don’t boil your kettle below a cupboard containing food