Mould in Your Home – Information for home owners brought to you by the Orillia Home Inspector.
What is mould?
Moulds are microscopic fungi; a group of organisms which also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Mould is a fungi that lives on plant and animal matter. It thrives in damp and poorly ventilated areas and reproduces by making spores.. There are over 270 species of mould have been identified as living in Canadian homes.
When is Mould a Problem?
Mould needs moisture, heat and protein to grow. Water leaks in your home can provide moisture from outside the home, through the floor, walls or roof; or from plumbing leaks. . Water enters the building when there is a penetration or failure in the structure. Moisture accumulates within the home when there is not enough ventilation or fresh air to remove moisture. Mould can be any colour, some common colours are black, white, red, orange, yellow or blue. Damage to materials is one concern of having mould – i.e. stains or discolouration; however, continued mould growth can be indicative of moisture conditions that are conducive for growth of fungi that cause wood rot and structural damage. If mould like this is growing inside your home, there could be health concerns. If you are in contact with mould you are more likely to have respiratory problems, allergies or asthma. Mould can also affect the immune system.
How to tell if you have a mould problem?
Two simple ways to determine if there is mould in your home is Discolouration or Mouldy Smell. If you see stains on a carpet that you think is mould, place a drop of household bleach onto a suspected area. If the stain loses its colour or disappears, it is possible that it is mould. If there is no change, it is probably not mould. Mould can often be hidden from view and your only indication maybe a musty or earthy smell. Not all moulds give off a noticeable odour.
Dealing with minor mould problems
You can clean small areas of mold yourself using an unscented detergent and water. The mold area is considered “small” if there are fewer than three patches, each patch smaller than one (1) square meter. If you have more than three patches or the areas are larger, you need a trained professional to assess your house. You may also need a trained contractor to clean extensive areas of mold.
- use household rubber gloves or similar protection;
- use a face mask, rated N95, capable of filtering fine particles;
- use protective glasses or goggles;
- rinse well with a clean material and dispose of immediately after use;
- dry area completely.
Moldy ceiling tiles and carpets should be removed and discarded. Drywall that remains stained after cleaning with detergent and water may need to be removed. Try washing fabrics. If the mold odour or stain persists, discard.
The proper cleaning procedure involves removing the mold. Chemicals, such as bleach and fungicides are not recommended. It is important to remove all mold residues as they can cause allergies or illness.
Dealing with larger mould problems
Workplace health and safety organizations often employ a similar, sized-based classification system that classifies mould as Level I (< 1 m²), Level II (1-3 m²), Level III (3 – 10 m²) or Level IV (> 10 m²). For each level, there are recommended procedures to protect the health of clean-up personnel and people working nearby during the remediation. Some mould inspection and remediation companies may employ these classification systems when dealing with mould problems in homes.
Cleanup and Biocides
Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain – these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
Mould Inspection Tip
When deciding to hire a professional to test for mould, consider hiring a company that also does remediation. This way you will ensure you get the best value for your money. While anyone with a kit can detect mould, it is always better to invest your money in a company that just specializes with detecting mould and its removal.
The Orillia Home Inspector always recommends you use a third party for mould inspections. Although many individuals may have the capability to test for mould it is in your best interest to hire a company that has the expertise to remove or repair problem.