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Damp and mould are a common problem in homes around the country. At some point most people will encounter one or both problems, in a property they either own, or rent.
Damp and mould are not the same thing. However, where damp is present, mould will usually follow. This is because mould needs moisture to grow. For this reason, you should always address damp issues as soon as you notice them in your home.
What is mould?
Mould is a type of fungi, that grows in many different places where the right conditions are met. This includes, indoors spaces, such as our homes, as well as outside in nature. Generally, they will require the following to survive:
- Moisture – In the home this is often caused by damp, leaks, or condensation
- Food – This can be a large variety of organic matter
- Temperature – Moulds tend to grow better in warmer temperatures, although they are very resilient.
- Oxygen – Whilst moulds do need oxygen to survive, they don’t need much, so there will be plenty available in the average home.
The right temperature and oxygen will not be in short supply in any British home. Also, organic materials are in abundance.
Moulds can consume almost any organic materials. This could include things like:
- Food left out
- Clothing and other fabrics around the home
- Paper, including wallpaper
- Wood, this could involve everything from skirting and architrave to structural timbers.
- Organic matter contained in dust, such as dead skin and hair
This means, that the only other thing needed to make the conditions suitable, is a water source. Damp provides the perfect solution to this.
Once the correct conditions are met, mould will reproduce and grow by releasing spores. These spores are extremely small and invisible to the naked eye. They can travel in air or water, as well as hitching a ride on surfaces such as clothing and fur.
Mould spores can also survive in environments that don’t meet all the conditions for growth. This means they can lay dormant until the environment becomes suitable for growth.
This allows mould to potentially spread throughout a home.
What damage can mould cause and is it dangerous?
The main problem most will face when it comes to mould, is the damage it causes to their home. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also damage surfaces and the items it grows on.
This will usually mean; you need to throw things away and redecorate after you get rid of mould in your home.
The longer it is left untreated, the worse these types of issue will become, and you could end up forking out to replace decorations, damaged clothing, and many other items that mould can ruin.
Mould causes damage by essentially eating the organic material it grows on. It does this by releasing digestive enzymes which break down the materials. This releases energy that helps the fungus to continue growing.
This process causes degradation of the surface and can also result in staining and an unpleasant smell. In some cases, the smell has been likened to urine, which is obviously not nice.
When this process is untreated, on areas such as wall papers, and paints, it can often destroy the surface. This will mean you need to redecorate if the mould is left over longer periods. With that said, if you do remove mould early, surfaces will often survive.
As well as cosmetic issues, there is a slight risk of health implications. For most people, these issues will either be very mild or non-existent. Minor symptoms are sometimes likened to something like hay fever.
According to the NHS, mould will pose more of a threat to people with poorer immune systems, as well as those with respiratory conditions and illnesses like asthma.
Other people most at risk, are the elderly and younger children and babies.
What is damp?
Damp is a common problem in UK homes and there are 4 main causes.
- Condensation (water vapour condensing on surfaces in the home)
- Internal leaks (plumbing, pipes, radiators, etc.)
- Penetrating damp (water entering from outside)
- Rising damp (water rising from the ground)
Condensation is by far the most common of these, with roughly 7 million households in Britain reporting this is an issue in their home.
Leaks are also quite common, if these do occur you will usually need to employ the help of a plumber. Once the issue is fixed, make sure the area is fully dried to avoid mould growth.
The last two are more serious issues and will usually require the assistance of a damp proofing professional. You can learn more about penetrating and rising damp at the links below:
When it comes to condensation, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce moisture in your home.
Condensation is caused in all homes and it’s not something you can avoid. Moisture is being released every time we breathe. It is also generated through a variety of household tasks and chores.
Any time you cook or take a shower, steam is generated. Plus, there are many other activities around the home that also generate moisture. You can’t stop the moisture being released, but you can take steps to remove the moist air and bring in fresh new air.
Simple steps like opening a window, or installing extractor fans in high condensation rooms, are great ways to remove moisture from the air.
You can also use items such as dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. These can be a great low-cost option. Plus, they are extremely easy to use, simply plug it in and empty when it fills up.
You can read more about how a dehumidifier can help here.
The other thing you can do is eliminate mould as soon as you spot it. A good black mould spray will usually do the trick. Just spray it on the effected surface and leave it to work.
A good well-known option for this, is Cilit bang black mould remover. You can read lots of reviews for this spray on Amazon by Clicking Here.
Damp and mould are not the same thing, but when it comes to your home, if you do have damp problems that aren’t treated, you will eventually end up with mould.
The best way to avoid this, is to reduce moisture before it becomes a problem.
We must remember, this is a natural process and mould is a living organism. Its sole purpose is to reproduce and spread its spores.
If we provide the perfect conditions for this to happen, mould spreading in our homes is an inevitable outcome.