Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | July 25, 2013

Mould, Mould, Everywhere

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The weather is a constant source of conversation on the West Coast and at times bone of contention.

As a result, mould is everywhere. The small spores are floating in the air you’re breathing even as you read this. It’s a ubiquitous part of nature. If the conditions are not favourable for growth, nothing happens. But when they land on a surface with the right conditions – dampness and a suitable food source, such as wood or other organic material – a problem will soon occur.

When a spore lands on a suitable surface it begins to grow roots, stem and finally a head, which produces many spores in as little as 12 hours, given the right conditions. These spores are caught by air currents and can then spread.

Sometimes they travel throughout a building using the ventilation system or natural air movement. Others don’t travel far, if the air movement isn’t favourable. In these cases, you can have large colonies growing in a relatively confined area in a short period of time.

Mould causes various issues, both for the building and for the occupants. It uses the building structure as food, which can cause staining or structural damage. The odours of mould growth can become quite unpleasant – the smell is usually a good indicator of when there is a problem. Simply put: if you see or smell mould, you have mould.

When our health is brought into the picture, things get even more challenging. Some people have sensitivities to mould and can react from the toxins given off by some types – even mould that has died. The spores of some types of mould can cause allergic responses in more sensitive people, including those with bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory conditions.

How do we prevent it from growing? The simplest method is to keep it from entering in the first place. Barring that, the next step is to remove the moisture from the area. When flooding or water infiltration occurs, (even sweating from windows) it’s key to get the water removed as quickly as possible. The longer the moisture sets, the further it can penetrate, making removal more difficult and giving mould a better chance to take hold and create more damage.

When significant growth or water infiltration is suspected, it is strongly recommended that a qualified consultant be brought in. An experienced consultant can determine where the moisture may be coming into the building, as well as find both visible and hidden areas of growth.

If mould has been allowed to grow, how do you get it out? After the moisture source has been found and removed, cleaning should be determined based on the size of the area. If it is a small area, less than 1 m2 (10 square feet), it can often be scrubbed with household cleaners, if it is only a surface growth. Simple cleaning products such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) can be purchased at many stores, or other mould-specific cleaning products can also be used. While bleach is often used, it isn’t recommended due to the damage that the mould can do to the underlying material, as well as the potential for reacting with any toxins and respiratory risks to the users.

Don’t be lazy. Be proactive.

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