How to deal with mould

Mould in the home, whether it's on your bathroom grout or creeping up the walls, is not only a health hazard but can exacerbate health problems such as asthma or hay fever.

How to treat and prevent mould

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Getting rid of mould in your home isn't always easy, but there are ways and means of eradicating this potentially hazardous growth, or even preventing the unsightly substance.

Identifying the problem
Your first step should be to locate the cause of the problem. If you have mould on the inside of the exterior walls, the root cause could be a cracked pipe or blocked gutter that's allowing water into the brick. A poor or non-existent damp course could also be to blame, and it's always worth checking your roof tiles for leaks.

On the other hand, condensation inside the home can also cause problematic mould. Everyday activities like cooking, washing up, bathing and even breathing create moisture in the air, and when that vapour hits a cold surface like a mirror, window or wall, droplets of water are the result.

Because of this condensation danger, areas such as the bathroom or kitchen are commonly afflicted with mould, along with north-facing rooms and those areas of the home that have poor ventilation.

Eradicating mould
Installing or renewing a damp course can be an expensive business, but may well be necessary if you have rising damp - it's worth checking with a professional whether this is the case. If it's down to poor ventilation and condensation, however, it is possible to get rid of the black stuff.

Baths and showers often need particular care, and a toothbrush dipped in bleach or diluted vinegar will get rid of grout that is showing signs of mould, though shop-bought products are also available. Sealant is often the first to show signs of mould, and if the toothbrush and bleach trick doesn't do the job, it might be worth cutting the old stuff out and replacing with new sealant.

Walls and ceilings are generally of more concern when it comes to mould, but there are products on the market that can help you to get rid of the mustiness of a mouldy room. With a shop-bought mould killer, any existing mould can be wiped away, and the fungicide within the product should also discourage further growth. You may well need to repaper or repaint, and if you're repainting the walls, consider a product like Zinsser Stain Block before laying on the colour.

Preventing mould
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and there are a number of ways you should protect your home against mould. Quality insulation and keeping your heating on low during the winter rather than switching it on and off can do much to reduce condensation.

And wherever possible, ensure the afflicted room enjoys some air circulation, whether by means of an extractor fan (in the case of kitchens and bathrooms), a de-humidifier or by hanging wet laundry outside and opening windows for a period each day when the weather is kind enough.