Tips on mould prevention and removal

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28 Dec 2012

With the wet weather we experience, many homeowners may notice an increase of mould (or mildew) in their homes. Mould thrives in warm, damp environments and the recent weather definitely encourages growth of fungus if the conditions are right.

The rooms that are most affected by mould or mildew tend to be bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, due to the humid air and lack of ventilation.

Moulds can thrive on many organic materials, including clothing, leather, paper, and the ceilings, walls and floors of homes or offices with poor moisture control.

There are many species of moulds. The black mould which grows in attics, on window sills, and other places where moisture levels are moderate often is Cladosporium. Mould growth found on materials where moisture levels are high is often Stachybotrys chartarum and is linked with sick building syndrome.

Black Mould is the species commonly found indoors on wet materials containing cellulose, such as wallboard (drywall), jute, wicker, straw baskets, and other paper materials. It does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete, glass, ceramic tile, or metals as a variety of other mould species do. In unaired places, such as basements, moulds can produce a strong mustyodour.

How to prevent mould or mildew

Mould around bathtubs and in showers is the number one problem for many homes but depending on where the mould is located, you can treat the area with household bleach, undiluted white vinegar or tea tree oil.

The most common areas for mould to appear are bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. This is due to the amount of moisture in these rooms and insufficient ventilation.

Mould around bathtubs and in showers is the number one problem for many homes and the appearance of mould should be taken as an indication of poor air circulation through these areas. If you open windows and doors regularly, this will greatly reduce the possibility of mould growth.

Apart from being unsightly, especially on the silicone seal around baths and sinks, mould can trigger off a variety of health conditions, such as asthma. It is important to investigate any occurrence of mould as quickly as possible.

If not due to lack of ventilation, mould could be an indicator of a leak behind the tiles and, once you have ruled out possibilities that you can fix yourself, it's time to call in a plumber.

Flats and townhouses are prone to outbreaks of mould. In many older builders, little consideration was given to proper ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens, and it can be difficult to air these rooms.

A dehumidifier is then the best option for reducing the amount of moisture in a room and can be bought at your local Clicks or Dis-Chem.

A dehumidifier is then the best option for reducing the amount of moisture in these spaces. A dehumidifier does exactly what the name indicates. Rather than add humidity to a room, a dehumidifier removes humidity - or moisture - from a room. You can buy them at most health-related stores such as Clicks and Dis-Chem, or from companies that specialise in dehumidification systems.

How to remove mould or mildew

Mould around bath, basin or shower

If the silicone seal is harboring mould growth, you will need to remove and replace this. After stripping off the old seal, pop on a dust mask and rubber gloves to treat the area with household bleach, undiluted white vinegar or tea tree oil.

Any of these will kill off the spores and prevent it from returning. Once the area is dry, you can reapply a silicone sealer - with anti-mould properties and specifically designed for room with high humidity levels.

Mould in tile grout

If there is an abundant mould growth in the tile grout, it is normally an indication of a leak behind the tiles. This problem could also cause mould on walls on the other side of the bathroom wall in bedrooms and cupboards. Any leaks will need to be fixed by a professional plumber to prevent further mould growth.

If there is mould between tiles in a shower, but no signs of mould on walls behind it, this could simply be a sign of constant use and lack of ventilation. Treat it by scrubbing the grout with an old toothbrush dipped in household bleach, undiluted white vinegar or tea tree oil.

If the stains don't clear up, you may need to remove and reapply grout.

Mould on fabrics

Where condensation on windows is a problem, particular on the coast, mould spots on curtains can be a nuisance. The best way to remove mould spots on curtains is to take them outdoors and brush away mould spots with a soft brush. It's important to do this outdoors, so that the spores are blown away.

Because household bleach will damage most fabrics, it's recommended that you apply a natural anti-bacterial solution, such as white vinegar or tea tree oil. Saturate the spots with white vinegar or tea tree oil and leave for about 30 minutes before rinsing clean. I suggest a couple of rinses to ensure that no product remains. Then dry the curtains outdoors.

Article courtesy of www.home-dzine.co.za

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