How to Prevent and Monitor Indoor MouldPosted on September 20, 2019
Indoor mould and damp are unfortunately fairly frequent problems within homes in the UK and is well known to be the cause of a wide variety of health concerns and damage to buildings.
Thankfully, there are solutions and legislation surrounding indoor mould in rented accommodation in particular.
Types of Indoor Mould
As with the outside world, there is a variety of indoor moulds, each with its own preferred conditions and associated health concerns.
The primary forms of mould found indoors are:
- Green mould
- White mould
- Blue mould
- Black mould
The majority of these forms represent mild health concerns and should always be treated as soon as possible, however, the form that most people will likely be aware of is black mould and its more serious variation; toxic black mould.
Associated with most of these are mould mites, which feed on colonies of mould. Most homes which have been subject to mould growth will likely have also developed populations of mould mites.
Mould mites do not present a health concern in themselves in most cases, with the exception of individuals with underlying breathing difficulties, where they have been known to exacerbate problems caused by mould.
Toxic Black Mould
While common black mould is relatively innocuous in most cases, toxic black mould poses a very serious risk to health.
Usually manifesting as a slimy, greenish-black mould, it produces mycotoxins which are invisible to the human eye and can cause a variety of health problems.
Mycotoxins enter the body through respiration, eyes, or ingestion and once internalised, can have effects on the reproductive system, vision, skin, circulatory and raspatory systems and can even pose psychological and neurological risks.
While almost all mould spores are known to cause raspatory and skin ailments, toxic black mould symptoms are more severe, therefore treatment should be made immediately.
Toxic black mould requires professional removal and no attempt should be made by anyone other than professionals to move or disturb colonies, as they will release spores and risk being inhaled or spreading.
If you notice symptoms associated with black mould, the only means to treatment is to remove either yourself or the mould from your environment. Symptoms should then reduce, although depending upon the length of exposure you may be left with long-term health consequences, about which you should consult your doctor.
Treating and Preventing Mould
Mould of all kinds is formed in damp environments, therefore the first step in its prevention is to ensure that humidity levels in all areas of a home are regulated as much as possible.
Most forms of mould can be removed with basic cleaning products and adequate ventilation of affected rooms, also ensuring that rooms do not exceed basic temperatures of roughly 15 degrees.
As mentioned, toxic black mould can only be treated by professionals and you should not attempt to disturb it on your own.
There are basic steps you can take to prevent mould:
1) Check to see if your windows are allowing rain to seep in and if the sealant around them is damaged. Additionally, check there is no damage to your roof as this could also allow rain to seep in and damage the interior of your property.
2) Always make sure that you dry wet areas immediately. Wipe up spillages and make sure to dry floors and walls after you take a bath or shower. If possible, dry wet clothes outside or in a dryer rather than on radiators, as the moisture from your clothes travels straight into the air. Never leave wet clothes in the washing machine and replace water-damaged carpets and fabrics immediately.
3) There are a lot of products available to aid with mould prevention, such as mould sprays and mould prevention paint. If you are having building work completed in your home, it is possible to obtain mould-resistant drywall or gypsum board, which is designed to prevent moisture within the structure of your home.
4) A good way to monitor humidity in your home is through a moisture meter, which can be bought via Omni Sensors and Transmitters. Ideally, humidity should be between 30 and 60 per cent.
5) Although indoor plants improve the air quality of your home, moist soil and leaves also provide the perfect breeding ground for mould. Make sure you clean and move your plants around regularly, in order to prevent a build-up of mould.
6) Leaks are commonly caused by broken gutters or drainpipes. Make sure to inspect the exterior of your house regularly, in order to prevent a simply cracked drainpipe from becoming a larger and more expensive problem.
7) Finally, it is important to let air circulate through your home. Keep internal doors open as much as possible and move the furniture away from walls. Open windows on dry days to let fresh air blow into your home, which will reduce moisture and therefore help to prevent mould.
Mould in Rented Accommodation
Within rented accommodation, tenants can often find themselves in an uncertain situation with regards to damp and mould development.
The first thing to bear in mind at all times is that it is the tenant’s responsibility to report damp and mould in all cases, the landlord is not obliged to take any action with having first been made aware of the issue.
It is also the tenant’s responsibility to act in a ‘tenant like manner’, which in this case involves ensuring that all possible action is taken to ensure that damp and mould do not develop.
However, provided the tenant has done all that is possible to prevent mould and damp, and the problem has been reported, the landlord is then responsible to ensure that necessary repairs are conducted and that provisions are made to remedy the situation moving forward.
As of March 2019, it became the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that homes are fit to live in for the period of their inhabitation. Therefore, if the mould renders parts of home uninhabitable or causes adverse health problems, the landlord is required to act to remedy the situation.
For more information regarding mould and damp in rented accommodation, visit Shelter.
A major step that anyone can take to prevent the development of damp and mould in their home is to install a monitoring system.
These systems will alert you to humidity levels and provide information regarding optimum ventilation times.
Click here to learn more about home humidity monitoring with Omni Sensors and Transmitters.