How to fightback against a mould outbreak attacking your home

By: Erin Lyons

Published: 23 March 2017

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Mould.

It’s not only a pest, but can cause chronic illness, cutting years off your life.

But it's what to do when you spot the fungi lurking in our bathrooms, cupboards, walls, and ceilings that can leave many residents confused.

During the past few weeks countless case studies have emerged, detailing the experiences of residents who’ve been left horrified to find mould growing in their home.

One featured a young first home buyer in Sydney who was shattered to discover the apartment she just purchased riddled with mould.

And according to reports, not only does it affect your breathing but it can also trigger sleep problems, muscles aches and decrease brain function.

The worst part is, you might think you’re washing it away by simply using bleach or domestic cleaning products, when in fact you could be making things worse.

That’s where mould experts come in.

According to managing director at the Mould Doctor, John Liddell, the most effective way to deal with mould is to locate the source of the moisture before ventilating your home.

To put it simply: “If there’s no moisture, there’s no mould,” according to Mr Liddell.

He explains that mould usually grows in damp, dark areas of inadequate light and ventilation where there’s moisture, oxygen and organic surfaces.

“The spores detach themselves and then travel to find another damp, dark source where it might be able to grow," Mr Liddell said.

While mould might seem easy to clean, he recommends otherwise.

Instead Mr Liddell said it’s vital owners organise an inspection with mould specialists who will identify the cause.

“Removing mould on your own can be really dangerous for occupants,” he said.

“It’s really important they wear protective masks or gloves.

“But it (mould) should be treated by a technician otherwise tenants can get suffer health issues or disturb the mould spores, making it worse.”

He explains that mould issues generally arise from poor ventilation, condensation, building defects, storm and flood damage.

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"Once moisture sits on a surface for more than 48 hours, mould infestation may occur," he said.

In a worse-case senario, a building may need to be knocked down or be mechanically dried.

However, in this day-and-age most new homes are reminiscent of plastic bags, in that they are air and water tight, with compromised passive ventilation, Mr Liddell said.

If humidity is kept at below 60 percent indoors, mould won't grow, so adequate ventilation and investing in a dehumidifier are mould prevention methods.

"Adequate ventilation is essential to allow moisture-laden air to escape from the home before condensation occurs," Mr Liddell explained.

Those most at risk of feeling the effects of mould exposure are asthmatics, elderly people, infants, and anyone with respiratory problems. But even if you don’t suffer allergies, it’s likely the mould could still effect your health.

“People can die from it in extreme cases,” Mr Liddell said.

“Not dealing with the cause is the core of the problem. Yes, domestic cleaning products will clean it off but it won’t be permanent.”

When actress Brittany Murphy died at age 32 in 2012, her death was put down to likely drug overdose or eating disorder.

But when her 40-year-old husband Simon Monjack died just a handful of months later, theories of mould poisoning emerged.

The coroner later linked her death to pneumonia and anaemia, but speculation remains.

It’s believed about 30 percent of buildings are affected by mould which can grow in various colours from orange, to green and black. It’s either slimy, powdery or hairy.

Mr Liddell also noted that the number of mould complaints made to the building commission have also risen. 

Unfortunately, despite popular belief… there’s no quick fix to your mould issue.

So it’s best to call in the professionals.