Seeing damp on a wall in your home can be stressful. Damp problems can be expensive to resolve because of damage to plasterwork and the need to redecorate once the cause of the damp has been removed, but damp can also be bad for your health due to the environment it creates for mould and dust mites to thrive.
One of the most common causes of damp in British homes is condensation. When the amount of moisture in the air becomes too high, it is released onto cold surfaces like windows, walls, and ceilings. Condensation is not a big problem on windows where it simply remains on the surface as droplets of water that can be wiped away, but on porous surfaces it can soak in and build up below the surface where the condensation becomes a patch of damp.
Once damp has become established, it can quickly be colonised by mould such as Stachybotrys Chartarum (toxic black mould). Moulds are spread by spores and grow quickly in the right conditions. A damp surface allows mould spores to collect and provides them with the moisture that they need to grow. Mould patches on walls and ceilings are an unpleasant sight, but as they mature, they release more spores that can be inhaled.
Mould spores are an irritant and allergen for some people. The presence of mould can worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma and lead to residents suffering from persistent cold like symptoms and headaches. In the case of toxic black mould, the mould also releases chemicals called mycotoxins which are particularly damaging to health, particularly for older people, young children, and those with a weaker immune system.
Damp patches also allow dust to build up and this allows populations of dust mites to thrive in your home. Dust mites are tiny spider like creatures which are barely visible to the naked eye and consume particles of household dust including dead skin. As the dust mites eat the dust particles, they produce waste that is highly allergenic and is a common irritant for asthmatics. When dust mite waste is inhaled it can irritate the airways in the lungs causing them to become restricted and making breathing difficult.
Thorough cleaning of your home is necessary to reduce the dust mite population, and it is possible to temporarily remove mould by washing the affected area with a special fungicide or dilute bleach. Toxic black mould will need to be professionally removed.
Unfortunately, unless the underlying cause of damp is dealt with, the problem will simply recur in the future.
The most effective way to prevent condensation is to lower the amount of moisture in your home is through improved ventilation. Modern extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens will expel moisture rich air before it can escape into the rest of your house and help to stop condensation forming elsewhere.
If you have discovered damp on the walls in your home, or noticed patches of mould growing, it is important to act before it can damage your health. Enter your postcode below to find a local ventilation specialist who can visit your home to conduct a free survey that will identify the causes of condensation. Our experts will provide you with advice about the best way to deal with condensation to stop it from contributing to damp and causing mould and dust mites to get out of control.
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