Chances are you’ve encountered mould before – it grows anywhere it has a chance especially where there is moisture. Hard surfaces that regularly get wet such as bathroom tiles drywall wallpaper and exposed wood especially window frames and sills are all common sites for mould. Faulty plumbing poor thermal insulation resistance (which leads to condensation) leaky roofs or just poor care and maintenance can create ideal conditions for mould to thrive.
Mould doesn’t just look and smell bad. It can cause damage to contents spread throughout a home and severely impact health. It’s essential to take action once a mould problem is recognized.
The old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ’ is especially true in this instance. Here are a few ways to prevent mould from establishing:
In the bathroom:
- Install an exhaust fan in every bathroom and run it for 30 minutes after you take a bath or shower.
- Keep surfaces clean.
- Replace any cracked or broken tiles.
- Promptly repair drips or leaks.
In the kitchen:
- Use the hood fan above your stove.
- When possible cover pots and pans while cooking.
- Repair any leaks.
In the Basement:
- Insulate pipes with foam.
- Don’t store cardboard boxes on the floor.
- Run a dehumidifier if necessary.
In the laundry room:
- Make sure your dryer is vented to the outside and tape any joints in the duct.
- Clean the lint filter every time you use the dryer.
- Leave the door to your washing machine open when you’re not using it.
- Dry your clothes outside when possible or ventilate well if you dry them inside.
Around the home in general:
- Vacuum regularly
- Use a dehumidifier if you have significant moisture problems
- Leave a gap between your things and furniture and outside walls
- Try to keep storage spaces as uncluttered as possible
If you find mould…
Mould most often appears as black or dark green dots that can develop into larger circular spots. If you notice areas of mould growing there are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to removing them:
Wear protective equipment. Disposable gloves are advisable as is a protective mask labelled as ‘n95’ which will prevent you from inhaling mould spores.
Get rid of any materials that are impregnated with mould and are not washable . This includes paper materials and cardboard boxes and may have to include wallpaper and even whole drywall panels in serious cases. If possible these contaminated materials should be sealed tightly in a plastic bag.
Wash any hard surfaces such as tiles window frames and sills and hard floors with warm soapy water . Drywall panelling can be cleaned if the mould hasn’t penetrated too deeply but make sure not to get it too wet. White wine vinegar can also be effective as can baking soda.
Dry after you clean. Wipe down surfaces with a dry towel or cloth and dry out rooms using a dehumidifier if you have one.
Dry before you clean. The dried out mould may still be alive but is more difficult to remove from surfaces.
Paint over mould. Mould can survive reproduce and eventually spread if painted over.
Use bleach. The best way to get rid of mould is to remove it through thorough methodical cleaning while bleach cleaners can damage and discolour your surfaces. You can however use hospital grade disinfectants on hard surfaces if they are available.
Do it yourself if the problem is serious. If you have multiple areas of mould in your home or if one area (like a whole ceiling or wall panel) is very badly affected a professional cleaning service is recommended.
Once you have solved your initial mould crisis it’s time to think about preventative measures. If you don’t own the property you live in it would be the responsibility of your landlord to solve the moisture problems that create the environment for mould to grow. This is especially the case if moisture problems affect multiple apartment or condos in a larger building.
Mould isn’t always covered in a home policy. Be sure to check your policy documents ortalk to your broker.