Damp, mould and mildew can appear in any home - old or new. Sometimes it can be caused by a fault with a property and when this is the case we're on hand to carry out repairs and other work to solve the problem. But building faults are not always to blame.
Many things that we do in our homes - including essentials such as breathing, washing and cooking - create moisture. All that air-borne water has to go somewhere and if it comes into contact with cold surfaces it can collect as liquid water on walls, windows and other items - it's called condensation. This is obviously more of a problem in colder months than it is in the summer, or if a home is unheated. Wet surfaces provide an environment where mould and mildew can grow from spores that are found naturally in the air. Other things in the air such as grease from cooking, dirt and nicotine can provide 'food' for the mould and allow it to grow faster. Bathrooms and kitchens are especially at risk - as are areas with poor ventilation or that get little sunlight, such as spaces behind furniture.
Living with mould can be unpleasant and bad for your health. But the good news is that there are things we can all do to prevent condensation and mould.
How to prevent mould
Keeping your home well ventilated will help reduce the risk of damp and mould. If you let warm, damp air out of the house, the moisture will escape rather than having chance to collect on walls and windows. Opening curtains and windows wherever possible is all it takes.
While it may be tempting to keep windows shut tight - especially in the colder months and when heating costs are so high - it can make it much easier for condensation to form. Recognising when moisture levels are high - which is usually linked to things you're doing that involve water and heat - is key. Even opening a window for a few minutes at these times will reduce the overall moisture levels in your home. You should also dust, vacuum and clean regularly so there is less 'food' in your home that will encourage mould to grow.
In the kitchen:
- Put lids on pots and pans, especially if they’re releasing lots of steam.
- Don’t leave the kettle boiling longer than necessary.
- Use extractor fans or open a window while you're cooking.
- Regularly wipe any surfaces with a dry cloth if you notice any condensation (water droplets) forming.
In the bathroom:
- Open the window or turn on your extractor fan if you have one when bathing or showering.
- Dry surfaces with a towel or dry cloth after bathing and showering, especially windowsills and the seal around your bath.
- Wash or replace your shower curtain (if you have one) regularly.
In the rest of your house:
- Avoid overfilling cupboards and wardrobes to help air circulate.
- Leave a gap in between the walls and the back of furniture.
- Consider using moisture traps - which you can get in many pound shops - or a dehumidifier if you notice regular condensation in a particular room or cupboard.
- Avoid drying clothes over radiators – put them outside if possible, or at least near an open window.
- If you have a tumble dryer - make sure the ventilation hose is clear and connected to the wall vent. Fluff from clothes can block vents so keep your filters clean to help avoid this.
Mould only starts to grow on a surface that’s been damp for 24 hours or more, so if you get into the habit of wiping everything down regularly it can make a real difference.
How to treat mould
Use a mould and mildew-specific cleaning spray and a clean cloth. Be sure to dispose of the cloth after you have treated the area to avoid spreading it to other areas of your home.
It is safest to wear rubber gloves and a dust mask and goggles (if you have them) to clean mould, to avoid breathing in any spores.
Scrub the area gently until the mould has been removed and then dry the area with a soft cloth.
Once the mould has been removed you can paint the surface with an antifungal or fungicidal paint, particularly if it seems to come back regularly in a specific area.
If you follow the advice above and see no improvement in the mould and mildew in your home, please contact us so we can investigate whether there could be an underlying structural issue. You can also contact us if you notice missing roof tiles or slates, rotten window frames or cracked or leaking pipes which could be causing an issue, and we’ll happily investigate this and make the necessary repairs.