Mould on walls, ceilings and window frames caused by condensation is the easiest to spot
The mould is black in colour
The mould will be around windows or external walls
When washed with a water and bleach solution the mould wipes off
Windows have water running down them
Removing Mould from your house
The very first thing you should do when you find out you have mould, is to figure out what could be causing the mould to grow? Before you eliminate the mould you must eliminate the source of the mould, otherwise when you are done cleaning, it will just grow back again. The type of environment that mould loves to grow in is a moist dark space with little or no ventilation.
Some tips that could help you determine if you have a mould growth are a musty damp smell, a humidity level above 65% or the best way is to simply do a visual inspection. If you use your eyes there will be no need to doubt your findings. After you have removed the environment that mould thrives in, it will be much easier to remove your mould problem all together.
Remember that before you start to clean anything you should protect yourself and others by wearing total body coverings including gloves, your face and a respiratory filter. To keep others around you safe be sure to only allow people with the proper protective gear into the affected area.
The second step is to determine what kind of material the mould is growing on. There are different treatments for different materials. In this article we will take a look at carpet, furniture and walls.
Removing mould from carpet is very difficult. Once the source of mould has been removed, you should just consider disposing of the carpet altogether.
If the infected area is small or you are determined to save the carpet then you can try the following, however, there is no guarantee that you will be able to remove the stains or that the mould will not come back.
To remove mould, try scrubbing the infected area using a mould treatment solution, make sure that the cleaner you use is approved by the C.O.P.R (Control of Pesticides Regulations) in the UK. Using bleach will not work properly. The problem with bleach is that is cannot penetrate into the infected area and kill the roots of the mould, the bleach is only able to kill what is on the surface meaning the mould is not always killed allowing it to grow back again. Once you have cleaned all the mould with a proper solution be sure that the damp area is dried quickly by using a dehumidifier.
Once again, removing mould and mould stains from furniture may be very difficult. If possible, consider just disposing of the piece.
If you choose to try and remove the mould your first step should be to take the piece of furniture outside and put it on a piece of clear plastic to avoid anything else being infected. As always make sure you have the proper protection on so that you will not have any health risks imposed on you. Then begin by cleaning the mould spots with a proper mould solution. After the mould has been killed by the solution be sure to let it dry quickly outside to prevent further mould growth.
Walls pose another set of problems since they can’t be replaced as easily as carpet or furniture.
Once you have all your safety gear on begin by examining the infected area. You need to find how severe the infected area is. If the mould is just on the surface you can use a mould solution to kill the mould but if the mould is growing under the paint and in the drywall you may have a job to big for you to tackle. Calling a professional may be an option to keep in mind.
If you decide to tackle the job yourself, consider purchasing a mould removal kit. These kits contain the proper chemicals and instructions for treating the mouldy area.
The basic process for cleaning mould from walls is a step by step process. For safety, start by isolating the contaminated area. This can be done by using plastic sheets and duct tape. Once the contaminated area is isolated begin drying the area using a dehumidifier or a heat lamp. Make sure the source of moisture is removed before you start otherwise the mould will eventually come back. When Everything is ready begin cleaning the area with your mould removal kit. Be sure to do a thorough job, so there will be no chance of the mould growing back.
Always remember before you tackle any mould job to be wearing the proper personal protective equipment.. Mould can pose a serious health risk to you.
The only way to properly remove mould on walls, ceilings and other areas is to alleviate excess moisture in the property, however if mould is already present then it can be tackled by;
- Washing down the surfaces with a mild solution of water and bleach
- Wiping down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash that carries Health and Safety Executive approval
- Dry clean mildewed clothes and thoroughly clean carpets with carpet shampoo
once treatment has ceased redecorate with a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent the mould re-occuring, if you paint or wallpaper over the anti fungal paint it will lose its effectiveness.
Black Mould and Health issues
There are thousands of different types of mould, but no matter what kind is in your home, no mould is good mould. The most common type of mould which grows in homes is called black mould but has been nicknamed, with good reason toxic mould. A study was done in Britain by the British medical journal they tested 597 homes for mould. Their results showed that 184 of them had damp conditions and 274 of the houses had actual mould growth in them. The British Medical Journal reported “Adult respondents living in damp and mouldy dwellings were likely to report more symptoms overall, including nausea and vomiting, blocked nose, breathlessness, backache, fainting, and bad nerves, than respondents in dry dwellings. Children living in damp and mouldy dwellings had a greater prevalence of respiratory symptoms (wheeze, sore throat, runny nose) and headaches and fever compared with those living in dry dwellings.”
It is hard to believe that so many people live in damp and mouldy conditions and not realize the symptoms they are experiencing are caused by mould.
Mould gives off microscopic spores which float through the air. It’s the spores that are toxic to the human body. Because mould spores are so small, they are able to become airborne. So it is possible to become infected even if you are not in the same room as the mould contamination.
Mould spores are able to affect you in three different ways, by contact with your skin, by ingesting them and by inhalation. Depending on which way you take in the toxic spores the side effects could vary.
Some people are allergic to the spores and could cause them to have a runny nose, itchy eyes,sneezing and coughing. If the exposure continues it can become more severe leading to asthma or sinus inflammation. With long term exposure to the spores they will irritate the mucous membranes in you nose, causing you to have head aches, trouble concentrating and dizziness.
There are rarer but more serious effects that can be caused by the spores. They can cause an invasive disease, which means they cause an internal infection. This type of side effect is much less common and normally will not affect healthy people. People who are at risk are people with weak immune systems. This includes people that have HIV/AIDS or that may have had an organ transplant.
The effects vary from minor to severe but black mould is something that you can prevent and even eliminate in your home.
Health issues associated with high levels of airborne mould spores include asthma attacks, allergic reactions, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, sinus congestion, and other breathing issues, although it should be noted that mould on walls won’t actually cause asthma, it may possibly irritate a pre-existing condition. For example, residents of homes that suffer with black mould are at an ‘elevated risk’ for both respiratory infections and bronchitis.
When mould spores are inhaled by someone with low immune systems, some mould spores may begin to grow on the living tissue, attaching to cells along the respiratory tract which could in turn create further health issues.
regular cleaning of the mould on the walls and ceilings with a mild bleach and water solution or purpose made cleaner will slow the build up of black mould and the initial cause of it will need to be addressed as described above.
If you are concerned for your own or your families health then it is strongly recommended to contact both your doctor and also a surveyor or damp and mould specialist to asses the mould in your property, it is also option to raise the mould issue with your local Environmental Health Department via your local councils website and ask them to carry out an inspection of the property.
An officer from the environmental health department will arrange to carry out an inspection. A warrant can be obtained if the landlord refuses the inspection. there is no cost for the inspection, and it can be kept confidential if you prefer.
The officer will check the property to see whether the mould issues are likely to be harmful to you or your families health or likely to cause a nuisance to others.
In most cases, they will give your landlord an abatement notice. This is a legal document ordering the landlord to address the problem and to set a time limit by which the works, if any must be completed by. If the landlord still does not carry out the works, the environmental health department can:
- carry out any repairs themselves and re-charge the landlord for the work, or
- take the landlord to court – the court can then possibly order the landlord to do the work and/or fine them up to £5,000.
The Environmental Health Team may send the landlord an informal notice to begin with, stating that further action may be taken if they do not carry out repairs within a certain amount of time.
In emergency cases, they can warn the landlord that they will do the work themselves if they are not started within nine days, or if the landlord does not serve a counter notice within 7 days saying they intend to do the necessary work. If the council does the work, they will then charge your landlord for the costs.