Mould isn’t an uncommon sight in UK homes. Most people have seen it somewhere in their home over the years – or will see it at some point. When you do, you might be unsure why it’s there and whether it’s really a problem.
To clear things up, this article will explain why mould develops, the risks it poses and what you can do to get rid of it.
What is mould exactly?
It’s easy to accept that mould is an annoyance without knowing what it is and why it presents itself. Broadly speaking, it’s a fungus that feeds off dead organic material by breaking it down.
There are a few different types of mould, including Penicillium, which you often see on food as it goes off. This type of mould has a soft texture that’s distinct from most other forms. You might also see Alternaria, which is similarly velvety and restricted to very damp places like showers or around leaks.
However, the more common types of mould found around the home are Aureobasidium, Stachybotrys and Cladosporium, which are darker in colour. They appear in blotchy patches, which spread and darken the longer they’re left untreated.
So why is it there? In short, mould grows whenever it has the means to do so. That includes moisture and dead materials, whether that’s wood, textiles or wallpaper.
Is it dangerous?
Once you see mould, you’ll no doubt want to remove it. Not least because it’s hardly pleasing on the eye. But all too often, these little cleaning jobs get put on the backburner, which begs the question – is it dangerous?
This is an important question for two reasons. Firstly, you won’t want to handle something that could cause irritation or other health problems. Secondly, you might want to do so sooner, if you know that it’s urgent and could prevent health issues developing.
Generally speaking, yes – mould is dangerous. Almost all types of mould release spores into the air, which can cause health issues when inhaled. If mould is left to fester and grow in your home, the air quality will continue to worsen, making those health issues more likely.
According to the NHS, mould can increase the risk of respiratory infections, allergies and asthma developing. Stachybotrys in particular can cause a burning sensation in the airways along with sinusitis, fever, fatigue, cough, headaches and nose bleeds.
Mould is particularly dangerous for children, old people and those with existing problems. It can cause asthma attacks for people who already suffer, for example, and trigger allergic reactions. Care should also be taken around people with a weakened immune system.
Additionally, several types of mould can be dangerous for your skin. Cladosporium can irritate the eyes, nose and skin, for example, while Aureobasidium exposure can lead to infections on your skin, eyes and nails.
As such, it’s important to protect your skin with long sleeves and gloves whenever cleaning mould in your home. You should also avoid touching your face, whether it’s adjusting your glasses or giving in to that itch. Because spores can be released while you’re cleaning mould, it’s also advisable to wear a face mask.
What can you do about it?
The problem with cleaning mould off walls, ceilings and other surfaces is that it doesn’t do anything to stop it coming back. If you really want to combat mould in your home, there are some more serious measures you can take.
Stopping moisture getting in
Moisture is at the heart of most mould problems. But it’s not always from the same place. While moisture does occur naturally inside homes (more on this later), you’ll want to make sure it’s not coming from outside your home.
Rising damp is when groundwater rises through masonry and saturates it. It’s distinguishable as it rises from the ground up and usually stops at a certain point. To repair it, you’ll need your damp-proof course repaired or replaced.
Alternatively, water could be getting through your walls due to inadequate rendering or pointing. In this case, you’ll need to repoint or re-render and repair any underlying issues like a leaking gutter.
If moisture isn’t penetrating your home, you’ll want to tackle what’s already inside. This comes from cooking, showering, drying clothes, boiling the kettle and even breathing. Needless to say, you can’t stop doing these things – but you can take some steps to let moisture escape.
Firstly, extractor fans are commonly installed in kitchens and bathrooms to remove moisture. Make sure you use them when cooking, bathing or showering, and get them repaired if they aren’t working.
Opening a nearby window is another simple step when washing up or drying clothes, for example. You can also use a dehumidifier if you’re struggling with high humidity in your home.
Keeping your home warm
The next step is to keep all areas of your home warm. We understand that this isn’t easy with energy prices at an all-time high. However, moisture in the air is drawn to cold surfaces. That’s why single-glazed windows, in particular, are a nightmare for condensation.
Another tip is to move furniture slightly away from your walls. Whether it’s a sofa or sideboard, it could be keeping the wall dark and cold, as well as preventing air movement. Put simply, it creates a breeding ground for mould.
Protecting your walls and ceilings
Sometimes, the measures above just aren’t enough. Many homes are simply susceptible to high humidity, which leads to damp and mould. It can become highly expensive trying to balance ventilation and heating to combat the problem.
If this is the case, you’ll need to protect the surfaces that moisture is drawn to. A sprayed cork coating can tackle that in two ways:
- Firstly, it adds insulation to your walls, which makes it easier to keep your home (and your walls) warm
- Secondly, the coating itself is moisture-resistant, so condensation can’t settle on the surface and mould can’t develop
Combat dangerous mould with SprayCork
At CorkSol, we’ve formulated a unique natural cork coating that’s ideal for combatting mould. SprayCork can be applied to internal walls to improve insulation and prevent mould formation. If you’d like to find out more or arrange a quote, simply contact our team on 01484 442420 or email [email protected].