Mould & Moisture
Ten Things You Should Know About Mould
Mould can occur in your home and workplace anywhere in South Africa.
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with exposure to mould include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
- It is impossible to eliminate all moulds and spores indoors. Growth is best controlled by controlling moisture.
- Clean and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Repair leaks.
- Reduce indoor humidity to between 30-50% by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
- Use air-conditioners and de-humidifiers, increase ventilation, and use exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24 hours.
- Clean mould off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely.
- Replace absorbent materials, e.g. mouldy ceiling tiles.
- Prevent condensation. Reduce condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- Do not install carpets areas with perpetual moisture problem, e.g. drinking fountains, classroom sinks and concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation.
- All moulds can be found on any surface where moisture is present, e.g. on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
What is mould?
It is the common word for fungus for any fungus that grows on food or damp surfaces. It can be any colour but is often black or white.
Some moulds often look like a stain or smudge, and they may smell musty. They can enter the home through windows, vents, and open doorways, heating and air-conditioning systems. It can attach itself to clothes, shoes, linen, bags and pets.
You might find it in:
- Leaky roofs, windows or pipes
- Ceiling and wall tiles
- Brick walls
- Wood products
Is mould harmful?
Often reports about the effects of some moulds include the term “toxic”. However, experts say this term can be misleading, since only certain mould spores produce toxins, and only under certain conditions.
“Just because a particular mould can produce toxins, doesn’t mean it will. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that you could inhale enough in your home or office to receive a toxic dose”; according to researchers in the Lung Disorders Special Report: 9 Common Mould Myths.
Although only toxic under exceptional conditions, it can still adversely affect your health. If you suffer a pre-existing respiratory condition, e.g. asthma, mould can aggravate the condition.
Some people are especially sensitive to some moulds and may display symptoms that include:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Coughing and phlegm build-up
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Symptoms of asthma and any number of allergic reactions
Tackling moulds at home
It is mostly found indoors in kitchens and bathrooms, where humidity levels are high. Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the affected area. If the mouldy area is less than about 1m² you can handle the job yourself. You can simply remove it with over the counter products. However, if there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mould growth covers more than 1m², it is advisable to hire a specialist contractor.
The following measures can help:
- During humid months, use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation.
- Before painting, add mould inhibitors to the paint.
- Use mould killing products to clean your bathroom and kitchen.
- Don’t carpet your bathrooms and toilets.
- Remove or replace wet carpets and upholstery.
If you suspect that there may be mould in your home I can identify the source for you. I can perform a Single Component Inspection and advise you the best manner in which to proceed: professional help or doing it yourself.