Mould plays an important part in our ecosystem by breaking down and recycling material in nature. Unfortunately, mold can become troublesome when it is allowed to grow inside our homes. It is important to know where to look for mould so a problem can be identified – then, having the ability to clean up the mould and stop it from continuing to grow or return is crucial.
There are thousands of types of mold, but one of the most common we find during inspections is called Cladosporium. This black pepper-looking mold can cause severe reactions to those of us with allergies, asthma, or more sensitive immune systems.
Mould needs moisture to grow. During home inspections mold is often found near leaky pipes or places where water from the exterior is allowed to penetrate the house. In attics with insufficient venting, high humidity can allow mold to grow on the underside of the sheathing of the roof. Although mold in this location shouldn’t pose a risk to our health, it can cause damage to the integrity of the roof if allowed to grow and decompose the sheathing.
How can you prevent mould from growing in my home? Although mould can be found almost anywhere, it needs moisture and nutrients to grow. The key to preventing mould growth is reducing dampness in the home. This can be done by:
Maintaining proper ventilation
Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes. Open windows when weather permits, to improve cross ventilation.
Limit the use of humidifiers. Limit the number of fish tanks and indoor plants. Limit use of un-flued gas heaters
Controlling moisture/ dampness
Repair all water leaks and plumbing problems e.g. burst water pipes, leaking roof or blocked rain gutters. If water enters your home, completely clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials. Discard material that cannot be cleaned and dried completely.
Rising and lateral damp
Rising damp is ground moisture rising up a brick or stone wall. Poor sub-floor ventilation or moisture in the sub-floor area will worsen the problem. This can be fixed by installing a new dampcourse or waterproof barrier in the wall. Ensure the weep holes and air vents at the base of your home are uncovered. If you have rising or lateral damp an experienced building consultant can check the 'damp course' and recommend ways to fix the problem.
After mold is located and removed, the moisture that had allowed the mold to grow needs to be diverted. Ventilation can be improved in an attic. A leaking roof can be patched. A leaky pipe can be fixed. But, the most common problem we find is also the most simple to solve.
Improving the grade around the house ensures that water is draining away from the property instead of towards the foundation. If water is not against the foundation then it can’t find its way inside through basement walls. Also, make sure the gutters and extensions are installed and working properly.
If mold is not identified visually, it can often be suspected by its odor. A room or basement that gives off an “earthy” or “musty” smell can be an indicator that mould present.
If mold is identified or just suspected in a home, a mold test can be administered. This (interior home) test samples the air near the area of suspected mold and then a control sample is taken outdoors. Both samples are mailed to a lab for analysis. The results provide the clarity of knowing what type of mold is present (if any) and can give direction on how to move forward.
Cleanup that Mould Ensure that you wear a facemask, gloves, and goggles. Scrub mould off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become mouldy. Do not paint or caulk mouldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over mouldy surfaces is likely to peel.