The smell of a damp building is unmistakeable. A musty, stale smell that permeates through all rooms and seems to cling to your clothes when you leave. That musty smell is caused by mildew growing on walls and furniture. Aside from creating an unpleasant atmosphere, mildew can also damage the fabric of a building and leave unsightly stains on material as it grows. Once you understand the most common places for mildew in your home, it is easy to take steps to remove it and prevent it coming back.
Mildew is a type of fungus – similar to mould – which grows as delicate white filaments called hyphae on damp surfaces and spreads through the air as spores.
Mildew thrives in humid conditions and can spread very quickly. Once a colony is established, it can grow unnoticed until the musty smell becomes apparent. The most common places for Mildew in your home will be areas with poor air flow, mildew patches can become very large as still air will not carry the individual filaments away as they sprout from a damp surface. It is not unusual to see a mildew patch that covers the entire back of a wardrobe!
Condensation from bathing and cooking is one of the most common causes of damp in the UK. As warm air comes into contact with cooler surfaces such as exterior walls or windows, the change in temperature reduces the amount of moisture that the air can hold, and the water vapour condenses in the form of beads of water. As a result, kitchens and bathrooms are one of the most common places for mildew to grow inside cupboards and behind fittings.
On porous surfaces such as wood, plaster, and soft furniture, the water can soak into the material and build up as damp. In warmer conditions, this damp provides the perfect environment for moulds and mildews to grow – as well as house dust mites.
As well as being unsightly on walls and ceilings, mildew can damage the surfaces it grows on. The mildew will take nutrients from plaster and weaken it significantly. It will also stain surfaces making it very difficult to clean properly.
When mildew matures and releases its spores, it can cause allergic reactions that are damaging to the health of young children, older people, and those with compromised immune systems.
Exposure to mildew spores can trigger respiratory problems for asthmatics and cause skin irritation for people with eczema.
Mildew can grow on almost any surface, but it is most commonly found in areas with very high moisture levels, or where there is limited airflow. You might find large colonies of mildew on the walls behind large items of furniture such as wardrobes – if your wardrobes are very full, you might also find mildew growing on the clothes that they contain.
Reducing airborne moisture in your home is the only effective way of reducing the formation of condensation which ultimately leads to damp, mould and mildew problems. Common sense ideas such as keeping bathroom and kitchen doors closed while bathing and cooking are a good start, and you should also run extractor fans to expel as much water vapour as possible.
If you find that your home is prone to mildew growth and you regularly need to clean it, it is possible that you have a damp problem that requires action to prevent mould and mildew affecting your health.
If you are having problems with musty smells in your home, speak to our local ventilation specialists. They can investigate the most common places for mildew to grow and will be able to advise you about the best course of action to take in order to improve the airflow in your home and get rid of the problem forever.
One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.
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