Breaking the Mould

01 Mar 2022

Following the recent visits from Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, a.k.a the February storms, we thought it would be a good time to talk about mould (everyone's least favourite roommate). A large number of the mould reports we see are potentially avoidable instances that come down to how temperature and moisture are controlled in a property.
 
What causes mould?
 
There are a few notable causes of mould in properties: rising damp, condensation and penetrating damp. The most common of these is condensation, something that can be very preventable by making a few changes to how you maintain your property. On these cold winter nights, the temptation to run a hot steamy bath is high, but all of that soothing steam is going to cling to the windows and walls, condensing back into little water droplets that sit and form unsightly patches of mould if left to fester.
 
Penetrating mould arises from leaks and construction flaws that allow water to make its way into the property. While these may not be directly caused by the occupant of the property, the best thing you can do to help limit the damage and mould spread is to report any possible leaks or moisture build-ups as soon as you notice them. Reactive maintenance can help repair any existing damage/mould and secure against future penetrating mould.
 
Rising damp comes up from underneath the property, more likely to occur in ground floor rooms/flats. Moisture finds its way up through the building foundations into the flooring of a property and if not acted on quickly could result in a mould that is impossible to get rid of.
 
So what can I do?
 
I'm glad you asked. There are a few steps you can take to help take control of the condensation risk in your property. Firstly, a low level of heating in a property can help stabilise the temperature of surfaces - reducing the cooling of moist air against cold surfaces, like walls and windows. We understand that with rising energy prices the temptation to turn your heating off completely might seem like an efficient solution, but when your house cools down the moisture created by something as simple as boiling some pasta can be a trigger for mould.
 
Ventilation is crucial to removing moisture-laden air. Remember that toasty bath you ran? Think about all the steam rising off of the surface of the water. Whilst it may be great to cleanse your skin, much like your face, the walls are soaking up that moisture too. Doing something as simple as cracking open the window slightly will create enough airflow in the bathroom to suck out a large amount of moist air. If that's a bit too chilly for you then the least you can do is open the window wider once you have finished to let the room air out. Similarly, when you're cooking in the kitchen, make sure you switch on the extractor fan. If you don't have an extractor then you can easily crack open a window to let the moisture out.
 
When drying clothes at home, avoid using radiators (unless adequate ventilation is also present). Radiators may seem like a good solution for drying clothes but they essentially boil off the moisture in the clothes, and if there is nowhere for that moist air to go it's just going to end up on the walls.
 
It is good practice to frequently disinfect and wipe down window frames, while you may not be able to see the moisture build-up, it is likely there and starting to brim with mould just waiting to bloom. Keeping a regular regime of disinfectant and towelling down the window frames can help keep mould away.
 
In extreme cases, if you are really struggling to get the moisture under control, dehumidifiers can serve as a great tool to manage the problem but please be aware that if the cause of the moisture is not put under control the dehumidifier may only serve as a temporary solution.
 
Hopefully, this will help at least some of you in keeping mould at bay. If you have any major concerns about mould in your property then feel free to contact our Maintenance Team on 01482 562 562.

Posted By

Ollie Potten


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