Turning to the air conditioning in summer, or the heater in winter seems innocent enough, but did you know this also unknowingly encourages mould growth in your home? What many of us don’t know is that the winter and summer months are common catalysts for mould. During these seasons, mould growth is persistent and relentless, so it’s important to be vigilant.
In this article we’ll look at the most common times of year for mould growth, what to look out for and how to prevent it.
When Is Mould Season?
When we combine high humidity levels and inadequate ventilation it provides the perfect conditions for mould to grow and spread. Mould is a problem at any time of year, but ‘mould season’ is when mould growth is at its peak.
Mould In Winter
The onset of winter has us shutting up our homes and turning on heaters. What we don’t realise is that this invites mould spores to grow and spread around the home. While mould often thrives in warm environments, the lack of fresh airflow paired with warm temperatures naturally increases condensation levels – prime conditions for mould growth.
Other factors often contributing to mould growth in winter may include:
- Drying clothes inside: When we dry clothes indoors, it traps the evaporating water within the home. This may cause moisture to linger in the walls, ceilings or other surrounding areas.
- Indoor humidity: Heating systems increase indoor humidity levels, causing a natural buildup of condensation. Combine this with inadequate ventilation and you have the perfect conditions for mould.
- Moisture levels: Winter means more rain, ice, snow (for some) and more moisture – especially around window sills, bathrooms and damp basements.
- Window condensation: Condensation often occurs on windows as a result of differing temperatures inside and outside the home. It is one of the main culprits for mould growth at home, especially in winter.
- Flooding: If your home experiences seasonal flooding, ensure that you take action to clean and dry the affected area within 24 hours. If flooding is severe, reach out to your local mould remediation service to begin the water damage restoration process.
Mould In Summer
When summer rain and warm temperatures combine with high humidity, mould growth will thrive. Factors that contribute to mould growth in summer include:
- High humidity: Water is a vital ingredient for mould to grow. High humidity means high moisture levels in the home, with mould growth likely to occur if indoor humidity reaches 70% or more. This is especially the case in locations with naturally higher humidity levels. If you experience high levels of humidity, using a dehumidifier will control the moisture in the air, acting as a preventive for excess mould.
- Warm temperatures: Despite mould thriving in moist environments, many mould strains thrive in temperatures ranging from 32-100 ° C especially if the air is humid.
- Inadequate ventilation: We often close up our homes and turn on the air conditioning when temperatures get hot outside. This develops stagnant moist air, a gateway for mould.
- Water leaks: To prevent mould from growing, be sure to fix leaks as soon as they develop. If it is a rainy summer, watch for discoloured spots on the ceiling or walls – they are tell-tale signs of a leak.
Mould and Allergy Season
Seasonal allergies are trigged by pollen. Mould allergies, on the other hand, are triggered by the inhalation of mould spores. So, if you experience allergy-like symptoms year round, you may be allergic to mould. While symptoms can occur at all times of year, they are most prevalent during mould season.
Who Is Most At Risk?
The health effects of mould vary from person to person. Those more at risk include:
- Elderly: Elderly people tend to be more susceptible to developing infections and often incur longer recovery periods. Because of this, they tend to have a higher risk of reacting to mould exposure. This often filters through into other respiratory complications.
- Children: In extreme cases, mould can impact overall lung function, leading to a host of chronic health problems for children. Even healthy children are reactive to mould and can even develop allergies they didn’t previously have.
- Asthmatics: Mould releases millions of air-borne spores. When we inhale these spores, they cause inflammation and irritation. Those with pre-existing respiratory conditions are highly sensitive to these spores. In turn, they experience more severe and more frequent reactions, including the onset of asthma attacks.
- Immunocompromised: People with weakened immune systems, such as cancer and transplant patients, may experience more serious health concerns from mould exposure. As a result, they can develop invasive mould infections just days or weeks after exposure.
Common symptoms of mould exposure include:
- Blocked nose
- Irritated eyes and skin
- Asthma attacks
If you fall into one of the above categories or are experiencing mould exposure symptoms, it is recommended to seek out the help of a professional mould removal service.
What Types Of Mould Grow In The Home?
With thousands of strains in existence, mould comes in many different colours and textures, with some more dangerous than others. Some common mould types found in Australian homes include:
- Cladosporium: Cladosporium thrives in areas that lack natural light and ventilation, like wood, clothing and under carpets. It has a green, brown or black appearance and releases thousands of airborne spores.
- Penicillium: Typically found in overly damp and wet conditions, Penicillium appears with a blue, green or yellow tinge. It is a sign of excessive moisture levels in the home.
- Aspergillus: Usually found in bathrooms and window frames, Aspergillus appears green, grey or white with dark spots. It is one of the most common strains of mould and is known to cause respiratory discomfort.
- Black Mould: Black Mould or Stachybotrys Chartarum, thrives in materials with a high cellulose content like paper and fibreboard. It has a greenish-black appearance and is known for its airborne mycotoxin spores that cause a burning sensation in the nose and throat.
How To Prepare For Mould Season
When it comes to mould, prevention is key. To prepare for mould season, it is best to understand what causes mould and how you can stop it from occurring in the first place.
Understand What Causes Mould
Mould growth often occurs in indoor areas that lack adequate ventilation. The combination of poor ventilation, high moisture levels and lack of natural light make mould growth hard to prevent. Common catalysts for mould growth include:
- Poor ventilation in mould prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens
- Water damage or flood-prone areas
- Buildup of soap scum in showers
- Condensation around window frames
- Not cleaning wet areas or spills
- Wet clothes left in the washing machine
- Damp, dark areas like basements and crawl spaces
Know How To Stop Mould In The Home
The most effective way to prevent mould is to control the air quality and moisture levels in your home. Key steps you can take include:
- Ventilation: Fresh air flow reduces moisture levels and increases circulation around the home. In areas prone to mould growth like the kitchen and bathroom, open windows and use exhaust fans to keep the area as dry as possible.
- Dry damp clothes: Damp clothes provide the perfect breeding ground for mould, so be sure to dry clothes immediately after washing. If you can, try to avoid drying clothes inside because this causes water to evaporate and remain in the home.
- Clean carpet regularly: If your carpet gets wet from a spill, water damage or even a humid climate, moisture becomes trapped in the carpet weaves. Make sure to vacuum and clean carpets regularly to ensure they are aerated and thoroughly cleaned.
- Mould resistant paint: Certain brands have developed mould resistant paints for mould prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, mould has trouble adhering to gloss and semi-gloss paints.
- Dehumidifiers: If you live in an area with high humidity, it is worth investing in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels in the home, making it harder for mould to grow and spread. It is important to frequently empty dehumidifier water trays to stop mould from growing in them.
Found Mould? Here’s What To Do
If left untreated, living in a property with mould can damage both your property and your health. If you think you have a mould problem, some signs to look out for include:
- Musty odour
- Water leaks
- White threads or small black spots of mould
- Peeling or cracking paint
- Past flooding
If you’ve found mould, you’ll want to remove it quickly. For mould patches larger than the size of your palm, do not attempt removal as this can aggravate the spores and cause them to spread. For small mould and mildew patches, there are a few common home remedies to try:
- Bleach: Mix a 1:10 ratio of bleach and water. Scrub onto the mould for removal or mix in a small amount of colour-safe bleach to your washing machine to thoroughly wash clothing, curtains and fabrics.
- Vinegar: Mix a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar into a spray bottle, shake well and spray onto the mould. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing it clean.
- Baking Soda: In a 250ml measuring cup, mix 125ml baking soda with 62ml white vinegar and 62ml water (2:1:1 ratio) to make a thick paste. Spread the paste onto the mould affected area and allow to dry. Scrub off any mould or stains and wipe down with a wet cloth to remove tough or stubborn mould growth.
There are many DIY treatments for mould removal, however they only act as a temporary fix to the problem. Seeking out expert mould removal services like those offered by MouldMen offer a long-term solution for the prevention of mould.
When To Call In The Professionals
If you are afraid of mould becoming a problem in your home and are looking for a long-term solution, be sure to call upon a professional team to help you. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevent Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 to book your free inspection today.