NZ has a mould problem. Add poor building standards, not enough insulation, and cold and damp weather together, and you have a recipe for mouldy homes. Luckily, there are things you can do to keep it at bay.
Mould is a fungus, and it’s related to the delicious mushrooms you have on toast. But, unlike fried mushrooms, the fungus that grows on your walls can cause health issues. To avoid skin, eye, and airway irritation and keep your house clean and dry, follow these six simple steps.
Step 1: Find the problem
If you already have mould, you need to figure you why your house is mouldy. Make sure there are no problems with leaks or structure.
- Check for leaks in walls and the roof.
- Clear all guttering, downpipes and drains and make sure water is draining correctly
- Is water pooling underneath the house?
- Check for structural problems. In NZ, things like small eaves, flat roofs, balconies on top of the first floor, roof-to-wall joins, minimal window flashings, cladding that runs into the ground, or a lower floor level than ground level outside all offer water ingress.
- Is your home a leaky home? If it was built between the mid 1990’s and the early 2000’s, used untreated timber or has panel or stucco cladding, the problem may be bigger than you think. Contact a builder who can test your home for dampness.
- Is the house just not warm or weathertight enough? Is there adequate insulation, heating, and airflow?
If there’s nothing wrong with the structure of your home, you can start the process of fixing the dampness.
Step 2: Dry it out
Mould and mildew need dampness to thrive. It’s vital for your health and wellbeing that you have a dry house, preferably one that’s consistently over 18oC inside.
If there has been flooding or you find a leak, make sure you dry it out thoroughly. Best case, it’s mopping up excess water and hiring an industrial dehumidifier to dry out the area. Worst case, you may need to remove carpets (if they are mouldy, it’s incredibly difficult to clean them completely) and wall linings. First, it’s worth shampooing and thoroughly cleaning your carpets—if they still smell musty, the problem may be difficult to overcome without removal.
If your home is damp and you just can’t dry out, invest in a dehumidifier. These will remove water from the air, making it far less friendly for mould. These also will remove spores and dust, making the home healthier for all, especially allergy sufferers or asthmatics.
Step 3: Ventilate
Air movement is the best cure for mould. Everything humans do causes condensation to form; cooking, washing, amd breathing all contribute.
Having windows open, even on cool days, helps to keep air moving and fresh (install stays/locks on the windows so you can leave windows open even if you’re not home). Always use extractor fans for the kitchen and the bathroom.
Try and avoid drying clothes inside. Also wipe up excess water straight away, whether that’s removing condensation from windows or wiping down the shower once the family have all finished.
Move all furniture away from the walls. This helps with airflow throughout the house.
Step 4: Use mould-deterrent products
There are certain products you can use that will help to minimise or control mould. In wardrobes, you can use products that absorb excess water, keeping your wardrobe smelling fresh and stopping mould from forming.
Clean using vinegar. Bleach does not kill all of the mould plant; it has roots that go deep into the surface it lives on. Mould also emits spores, which float around in the air. Use white vinegar to clean mould, as it kills the entire plant.
Step 5: Warm your home up
It’s recommended that internal home temperature should be about 18oC. Not only does this help to make the climate less hospitable for mould, but it’s better for the health of you and your family.
A fire, heatpump or flued gas heater is best to warm the house, avoid using gas if it’s not flued. It produces a lot of moisture as it heats, it’s not a good source of dry warmth.
Step 6: Keep water away from your home
If water tends to pool near or under your house, you might need to develop a drainage system. While installing a draining system underground is best, digging a channel from the house could be a temporary solution.
Need help to clean up a mould problem?
If your home suffers badly from mould, the plant have taken hold in your walls and ceilings where you can’t see it. A professional mould decontamination service helps to remove it- permanently. At TechClean, we use a combination of chemical and manual mould removal to ensure the whole plant is removed, so it can’t grow back.
We also can help to identify what might be contributing to the problem. There’s no point eradicating the mould if the cause of the problem isn’t resolved too. Contact us to talk about mould removal options. We have teams in Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough who can help with your mould cleaning and decontamination.