Mould and damp

Mouldy home? Here’s what you need to know

The arrival of September means we’re coming to the end of the summer months and warmer temperatures. It will soon start getting colder which means we need to switch our attention to preparing for winter health related conditions such as flu, coughs and colds. Did you know that the atmosphere you live in can impact the state of your health in winter? Particularly in relation to respiratory conditions.  Many houses in the UK are prone to mould and damp. Often houses that are old and poorly maintained are more at risk. Damp encourages mould growth and can cause wooden structures like window frames to rot.

Mould grows where excess moisture gets into the house. It can pose several health hazards if it’s left to grow, so follow our simple guide to remove mould from your home.


Health hazards of mould and damp

Mould and damp in your home can increase your risk of asthma attacks and respiratory infections. (Check out this article to see if you’re displaying symptoms of asthma). If you have an existing skin condition, such as eczema, mould can cause additional irritation. Mould releases spores and other substances that can cause allergic reactions when you touch them or breathe them in.

Mould can be more dangerous for babies, elderly people and others with compromised immune systems, such as those recovering from chemotherapy. This is because they are not as able to fight off the spores and irritants produced by the mould.


Getting rid of mould and damp

If you have mould in your home, the World Health Organisation recommends following these three steps to remove mould and lower your risk of mould-related respiratory infections.

Find the source of the dampness

Mould grows where excess moisture is getting into the house. This is most commonly caused by one of the following:

  • Leaky water pipes
  • Rising damp from the ground floor or basement
  • Damage to the roof or window frames causing rainwater to enter the house.
  • Condensation from showers, cooking or drying laundry inside.


Remove the mould

If you only have a small amount of mould present in your home (less than around a metre squared), you can have a go at removing it yourself. Open the windows to provide ventilation. Use a bucket of hot water and a mild detergent and wipe the mould off the wall, then dry the area with a clean rag. The rags used should be disposed of afterwards, and the room vacuumed to remove any spores.

If the mould problem is larger, you may need to contact a professional to remove it.


Fix the source of the dampness

To prevent mould from returning to the house, you need to fix the source of the dampness. If the damp is coming in through a structural fault, such as a broken window frame or leaky pipes, you’ll need to get a professional in to fix it. If the underlying problem causing the dampness isn’t solved, the mould will keep coming back.

However, if the dampness is caused by condensation you may be able to fix it yourself. To do this, you need to keep the house well-ventilated, either by opening windows or using a dehumidifier. However the best cure is prevention – be sure to check out this guide for reducing the amount of condensation you produce, to reduce your chances of the mould coming back. Top tips include keeping lids on saucepans while cooking to prevent moisture escaping, and drying clothes outside.

Now that you’ve got rid of the mould and damp in your home, you can breathe easy knowing you’re less at risk of respiratory illness and asthma attacks.