Patches of mould growing on walls and in the corner of ceilings can be an unsightly thing to see in your house and might have you worried. Mould is a surprisingly common problem in British homes, but did you know that it can also cause problems for both your health and the value of your home?
There are many different species of mould that can grow in homes as a result of damp conditions. It is an easy problem to spot. Usually, you will notice dark patches of growth in cooler areas of your home and over time, these will become black or very dark green.
Mould is caused by microscopic spores which are spread around your home by the movement of air. Usually, the spores are dormant and in small concentrations, they are harmless, but if they encounter the right conditions – damp areas where there is limited airflow – those spores can settle and start to grow into colonies of mould.
The dark patches that you can see on walls and ceilings in your home are the fruiting body of mould. The mature mould releases higher volumes of spores into the air to propagate around the building. These spores can create an allergic reaction in many people.
If they are inhaled, they can irritate the airways, which can be a problem for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, and those with weaker immune systems such as the elderly and young children.
People with skin allergies and eczema may get a rash from mould spores, and if they are inadvertently picked up and transferred into your eyes, it may cause itching and redness.
In addition to allergic reactions, some species of mould such as toxic black mould (Stachybotrys Chartarum) can cause even more serious health problems. Toxic black mould releases mycotoxins into the air as it grows. These can have a number of different effects on people depending on their susceptibility. Common symptoms of mycotoxin ingestion include:
These effects can be long term and lead to major health problems, so if you suspect that you have toxic black mould growing in your home, it is important to have it professionally removed.
When mould problems, and their close relative mildew grow on surfaces, they can leave a stain that is hard to remove or clean away. This might mean that you need to paint or repair walls if you have had a mould infestation. Similarly, if mould has grown inside cupboards or on clothing, it may need to be disposed of if it cannot be cleaned.
While mould does not damage plaster, the damp conditions that it grows in will cause plaster to crumble and wallpaper to peel away from the wall. If you have a problem with mould, you may well find that if the underlying causes are not dealt with quickly, there may be expensive domestic repairs to carry out afterwards.
One area where mould can really affect your property is its value! If you are selling a house and there is evidence of untreated mould on the walls, buyers may be put off from purchasing. Without knowing what the cause of the mould is, they may fear that removing the problem could be expensive, or that the mould is a symptom of a deeper problem with the property. In a survey of home buyers, mould on walls was one of the biggest turnoffs when it came to putting in an offer, and in the US, houses with mould may sell for up to 23% below the market value!
Using dilute bleach or a fungicidal cleaner, it is possible to superficially remove mould in the short term. Spraying the bleach onto the mould will kill off the bodies on the surface and they can be safely wiped away. This does not however remove the problem for good.
In order to get rid of mould permanently, you need to remove the conditions that allow it to grow. In most homes, the damp patches where mould thrives are caused by condensation, and poor airflow.
Reducing the humidity in your home by ensuring that extractor fans in bathrooms are working properly, keeping windows open when possible, and avoiding drying clothes or towels on radiators can help to reduce moisture levels, however in some cases, you may need to consider improving your home ventilation with a multi-room or whole house ventilation system such as the Atmos Positive Input Ventilation (PIV).
If you are concerned about mould growth in your home, and the effect it could have on your health and the value of your property, please contact us today. Our local ventilation specialists can provide a free home survey that will get to the bottom of your condensation or mould problem, and they will provide you with advice about the best possible solution.
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