In some properties, the battle against mould and mildew can be an ongoing problem. As much as you fight mould, the likelihood of it returning is pretty high. Whether you live in a rented property or are an owner-occupier, mould and mildew is not something you should ignore. Although it may seem impossible to rid your property of mould, it is important to be aware that it can cause health issues and so, you should definitely try to keep on top of it. This article will equip you with the knowledge you need to combat an outbreak of mould in your property.
What is mould?
Before we delve into the ways in which you can tackle mould, we should probably answer the question: what is mould? It is a type of fungus, meaning that it is a living organism. Fungi plays an essential role in the Earth’s ecosystem, and can be found absolutely anywhere except from underwater. Mould is at the mercy of its environment and requires suitable conditions to multiply. It is actually present almost everywhere in small amounts which are invisible to the nacked eye. When given the opportunity to multiple, mould can appear as green, grey, brown or block spots or clusters. There are hundreds of different types of mould, but the most common found within properties in the UK are: alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.
Should I be worried?
Mould spores and fragments are in the air that we breathe. Fortunately, the amount of these fragments in the air is usually negligible. However, when there is an outbreak of mould in a property, the concentration of the fragments increases tenfold. The way in which the body reacts to mould will be different from person to person. Generally speaking, if you are in better health with no underlying health conditions, such as asthma, then you are less likely to be severely affected. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from asthma, then you should definitely be taking mould seriously. The impact of a moldy environment can present as symptoms of an allergic reaction such as itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. For those who suffer from any auto-immune deficiencies, these symptoms can be heightened. In really rare circumstances with specific types of mould, it has been known for cases of memory loss and pulmonary haemorrhages to arise.
What causes mould?
If you are a landlord, you have a legal obligation to resolve any damp or mould issues in your property as per the conditions set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985). Excessive mould is considered to be a factor that renders a property uninhabitable. Where an outbreak of mould arises, you should act quickly because the repercussions can be serious. If your property causes your tenants to become ill, you will find yourself amidst a whole world of legal loopholes and challenges! Where the landlord does not act, the tenants have the right to inform the local council and they have the authority to take enforcement action.
Mould thrives in damp environments with excessive moisture in the air, hence why mould is most often found in bathrooms and kitchens. Although it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is not damp, this does not mean that you would be responsible for all mould in the property. The reason for this is because mould can actually be caused by lifestyle choices, obviously these would be outside of the scope of the Landlord and Tenant Act. Where you would have an obligation to act is where there is a problem with the structure of the property which is causing it to be damp. If that is the case, one way in which you can eliminate the presence of damp is to increase the amount of ventilation.
In the first instance, you should determine the cause of the mould. If you do not find any evidence of there being a structural defect, then you should provide the tenant with some general advice – such as ensuring to open windows and doors to promote ventilation in the property, particularly after a hot bath or shower as the moisture in the air provides the perfect incubator for mould to multiply. We suppose the best way to summarise this is, although the law is heavily weighted against the landlord; it is important to ensure that the landlord and the tenant work together to ensure that the property is looked after and is safe for the occupants.
How to get rid of mould
Whilst the key to a mould-free property is prevention, there are still ways to get rid of mould when it has started to grow. On the market today, there are many different products which can be used to remove mould, some of which are more effective than others. However, if you would prefer to steer away from the branded products, you can create your own solution – simply combine one part bleach with four parts of water. Then, either with your chosen product or the homemade solution, you should use an old rag or dish cloth and wet it with the solution and then proceed to scrub away the mould. Do not spray the solution directly onto the mould, always use a cloth because you may cause more mould fragments to be dispersed into the air otherwise. For protection, we would recommend wearing a face covering and gloves when cleaning any fungus.
If you have repeated issues with mould in your property in the bathroom or kitchen, it may be worthwhile seeking some advice. Why not consult one of our professional plumbers in Ipswich? It may be possible for us to identify the cause, sometimes mould can be caused by factors such as a small leak that has gone unnoticed for a period of time, so it is always worthwhile seeking an expert opinion before letting the situation get out of hand.