At some stage, we have all seen mould, be it along the base of walls inside a damp, cold garage or even in the area surrounding the cooker in the kitchen. The problem is how to get rid of mould.
Needless to say, the simplest way is to not let it appear in the first place! There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that you are not one of the unfortunate ones who suffer from mould.
You see, if the area is completely damp, not only are the walls affected but furniture and carpets, as well as personal clothing can be affected by mildew which is effectively the start of mould! But what is it that causes mould and how easy is it to get rid of?
Before looking at the damage caused by Mould, it is necessary to understand what mould actually is.
Mould is a type of fungus that develops from spores which can be found in the air. Unfortunately, these spores develop when they make contact in a damp area, ideally within a temperature ranging from 40 to 100°F.
In the mildest form, mildew is the first indication of mould. It normally appears in little black dots and if discovered early enough, can be washed away with normal household bleach. This type of mould does not cause any severe damage to a building structure nor is it a health hazard.
Unfortunately, unless detected at an early stage, the mildew can grow and become denser thus making its presence known by clusters of dark dots of mildew. The mildew then develops into what we know as mould and will be found on walls, carpets, furniture and even clothing.
Never forget that in its worst form, mould can be extremely hazardous to health.
There is no doubt about it that mould is caused by the presence of both dampness and lack of ventilation in the property.
What really happens is this – there is a clash of temperature between the inside and outside of a property. For example during the colder periods, window glass is cold on the outside, but excessive central heating or steam from showers, bath’s and the kitchen area are warm. As a result, without adequate ventilation, dampness occurs from the condensation.
This is the main cause of mould but of course it can arise from dampness in the ground passing up the wall interior as a result of an ineffective damp course in the brickwork.
However the purpose of this article is to limit ourselves to the normal everyday causes rather than the more complicated one of rising damp.
Whenever the shower or bath is used, hot water produces steam which in turn, due to the cold walls, results in condensation on the wall.
The quickest way to prevent this is to ensure that there is a working ventilation extractor fan either located in the bathroom itself or by placing one over the bath and a further one over a separate shower. These should be unblocked at all times and in the event of a malfunction, it is the tenant’s responsibility to notify the landlord immediately.
One small point to note is that before running a hot bath, run the cold water tap first so that when the hot water hits the bath, the cold water will minimise the amount of steam initially produced.
Needless to say, the biggest problem with kitchens is boiling pans. The steam inevitably makes contact with the cold wall and unless extracted and/or wiped away, will cause condensation, resulting in mould.
Once more, it is a matter of making sure that there is a powerful extractor fan within the immediate vicinity of the cooker and that this is kept in good working order. Remember, it is the tenant’s responsibility to let the landlord know if this is broken but, it is the responsibility of the tenant to make sure any filters in the fan are cleaned regularly.
Now I have to be honest when I say that there is more mould prevalent in older buildings than in new ones and for obvious reasons. The mildew spores have had longer time to build up and so they are first likely to show themselves in tile grouting. However, do not necessarily mistake these for normal dirt. The best way to establish the difference is to try and brush the black area away and it will soon become clear which is dirt and which is mildew.
Health and Safety is always an issue when using cleansing materials to remove mildew. Using water, dilute a concentrate of bleach in a plastic bucket. If possible, wear either a respirator or least a face mask because the fumes emanating from the bleach can be somewhat toxic. Using thick rubber gloves, apply the solution to the darkened area using a brush and slowly the mildew/mould will be eaten away.
In an excessively damp area, such as damp permeating wooden floorboards on the ground floor of a property, the underside of carpets can often start rotting as a direct result of the presence of mildew. In these circumstances, you really have no other choice than to carefully remove and dispose of the carpets. However before laying new carpets, ensure that the floor area is completely dry and indeed it sometimes helps to lay a lino or similar surface on top of the floorboards.
As I mentioned earlier, mould resulting from dampness and mildew normally occurs in older buildings rather than new. Condensation around windows and internal walls arises because of a difference in temperature between the outside of the building and the inside.
Old, wooden window frames deteriorate over a period of time, meaning that the areas round the glass pane could well be suffering from rot. In these circumstances, the provision of double glazing, which in itself will necessitate the removal of the old window frames, will provide the necessary insulation that reduces the risk of condensation around window areas.
Cavity wall insulation will greatly enhance temperature retention within the house whilst reducing the effects of a lower temperature outside. It is worth pointing out that this insulation will also help improve the Energy Efficiency of the property.
Mildew resulting in mould does not need to be a major issue.
Provided the preventative measures outlined above are put in place quickly enough and the existing mould completely removed from the property, then it’s reappearance is unlikely.
Even the minimum of preventative measures taken soon enough, may very well prove sufficiently adequate without taking major steps such as cavity wall insulation and double glazing.