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Tackling Mould and Moisture: A Guide for M&E Consulting Engineers

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Tackling Mould and Moisture Challenges: A Guide for M&E Consulting Engineers to Enhance Indoor Air Quality

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Sep 08, 2023

Having been subject to tightened legislation and ambitious government targets aiming to improve health and protect the environment, indoor air quality within domestic dwellings is a topic that is at the forefront of the minds of property developers and house buyers alike. While there are a host of elements that can impair the air quality inside a home, this article will focus on mould and excess moisture. In doing so, we will highlight the importance of tackling mould, offering up tips on how to prevent mould and reduce moisture in your projects.

Why is it important to prevent mould formation?

For many homeowners, the primary motivation behind tackling mould is that it appears unsightly and unhygienic. The build-up of mould behind silicone seals can quickly spoil the look of a new and flawless bathroom. That being said, aesthetics are always of secondary importance in cases where there is a risk to the health and well-being of building occupants. According to the NHS, “Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks.” What’s more, WebMD highlights that the effects of mould are not limited to allergy sufferers, explaining, “Whether or not you're allergic to moulds, mould exposure can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs”, although the same article does list children, the elderly, the immune-compromised, and sufferers of chronic lung disease as being  particularly at-risk.

Many of the solutions by which to combat mould formation are best planned and implemented during the building construction phase, and therefore it is essential that you as a house builder take measures to ensure that your projects provide a healthy living environment for future occupants and comply with legislation regarding ventilation and airflow in residential dwellings.

What is mould?

Mould is a type of fungus consisting of small organisms that are found almost everywhere. Mould can be black, white, orange, green, or purple. It thrives in moist and warm conditions and reproduces by releasing miniscule, lightweight spores that travel in the air and can be easily inhaled. In small quantities mould spores are generally harmless, but if allowed to grow the number of spores released is multiplied, resulting in health implications for home occupants. Moulds can grow on almost any home surface but are most commonly found on surfaces in damp rooms, such as bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms, and basements.

What are the primary causes of mould?

Put simply, mould is caused by excess moisture. This may be as a result of leaking pipes, rising damp, or rain seeping in via damaged roofs or window frames. However, arguably one of the main causes of mould in domestic dwellings is condensation. This occurs when warm air comes into contact with cold surfaces in poorly ventilated rooms with a high level of humidity.

Tips to manage mould and avoid excessive moisture

Measures to avoid mould can be divided into two categories: measures that can be taken by you, the house builder, during the design and construction phases, and those that can be performed on a regular basis by building occupants.

How you as a house builder can prevent mould:

  • Install a suitable whole-house ventilation system in your new build properties. A Mechanical ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) system replaces stale and excessively moist air with a supply of fresh, filtered air, maintains a suitable flow of air throughout the home, and also offsets heating costs by heating the filtered air. It is also able to control the temperature and moisture levels in specific rooms via a central control unit.
  • Install mechanical extractor fans in high-moisture rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Install window trickle vents in sufficient quantity throughout the home, and through-wall vents in high-moisture rooms with no windows. For more information on how to provide adequate installation in rooms without windows, consult our article here.

Everyday measures and recommendations by which homeowners can reduce moisture and prevent mould:

  • Keep the house warm in periods of cold weather to help reduce condensation
  • Fixing leaks to prevent excessive moisture levels
  • Airing out rooms by opening windows, especially when showering or cooking
  • Emptying and cleaning drip pans in refrigerators and air conditioning units
  • Opening doors to increase air circulation within the home
  • Keeping air-purifying plants – information on how plants can help improve indoor air quality can be found here.
  • Drying clothes outside when weather permits
  • Cleaning mould promptly, before it has the chance to proliferate. We also have an article offering tips on how to clean mould from bathroom walls, available here.

You should now be aware of the fact that mould is a significant problem that cannot be ignored. That said, you should also be better equipped to deal with mould and to advise your customers regarding practices to be adopted in order to prevent and eliminate mould. If you require further information or advice on ventilation systems or help choosing the right installation to suit your building, the expert team at EnviroVent would be happy to assist you.

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