Between hot, dry heat, humid conditions and heavy rainfall, Australia is the home of a wide variety of weather conditions at any time of the year. Mould is known to thrive in warm, moist environments, areas of above average humidity, cold and wet conditions, making it common in Australian homes.
Mould has the ability to grow and spread around any Australian home as long as the conditions cater for its growth, so it’s important to understand what to look out for if you find mould in your home. Here’s a quick look into some of the most common types of mould found in Australian homes, what causes mould, and how to prevent and remove it.
What is mould?
Mould is a type of fungus and a living organism that survives by breaking down organic material by releasing its enzymes, allowing it to continuously grow and spread. Mould also releases airborne spores, allowing it to travel around the home and property, causing discomfort and harmful effects when inhaled. Warm, damp, high moisture environments with inadequate ventilation create the perfect conditions for rapid mould growth and can take hold within 48 hours.
Where does mould grow?
Mould can also grow and spread throughout inorganic matter such as bathroom tiles, toilets, and kitchen surfaces where there is a build up of condensation, high humidity levels and excess water damage. Because of this, mould can cause severe damage to the home if not taken care of and eradicated completely.
There are thousands of strains of mould in existence, present in a variety of colours, textures and pose different levels of risk regarding health conditions. With this being said, mould can be extremely hard to identify from a visual inspection, to avoid aggravating spores or elevating health risks, it is recommended to seek out a professional mould service for an inspection.
What causes mould in the home?
Australia is known for its versatile weather conditions and varying climate. The Australian climate spans from hot dry heat, torrential rainfall, humidity and damp conditions, making it the ideal environment for mould to grow in the home.
In the warmer, muggier months, the use of air-conditioners and dehumidifiers can offer reprieve from the heat. However, the circulation of air within a closed up home can restrict fresh air flow. Furthermore, frequent use of air-conditioners and dehumidifiers can cause a build up of condensation and bacteria within the unit and excess water trays.
During the wet, damp months, mould can easily grow in areas with inadequate ventilation and little to no natural light, such as basements, crawl spaces, and ceilings.
Mould infestations can also be a sign of a larger problem such as flooding, excess water damage and leakage/plumbing problems. If this is the case, or if your home is subjected to seasonal flooding, it is important to take action to dry the area thoroughly within 48 hours of the damage or spill.
What types of mould are found in the home?
There are thousands of species of mould, and it is very difficult to correctly identify without a professional lab analysis. Some common strains that can be found in the home can include:
Aspergillus is one of the most common types of mould found in the home and around the property, usually growing in bathrooms, window frames, accumulated dust and on plants. Often presented as green, grey, and white with dark spots, this strain of mould thrives in high levels of moisture and condensation in ill-ventilated areas.
This strain is known to spread very easily and can cause respiratory discomfort and more serious health conditions for those with existing respiratory problems and weak immune systems.
Also known as ‘toxic black mould’, Stachybotrys Chartarum, is commonly found indoors in excessively water damaged cellulose such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, paper and building materials. It also thrives in humid climates and high moisture exposure.
Black mould will appear greenish-black in colour and is associated with a lingering musty odour that can present itself even if the mould is not visible. With its airborne spores, black mould can easily spread around the home and make its way into carpets, tiles and ceilings, and can be aggravated easily if attempted to be removed. These airborne spores also release mycotoxins, known to cause a burning discomfort in the mouth, throat and nasal passages, also known as black mould poisoning. In more severe cases, severe overexposure can lead to more serious health concerns such as diarrhoea, memory loss and even brain damage.
Cladosporium is a species of mould with hundreds of varieties and is highly common in both indoor and outdoor areas. When matured, this species will appear dark in colour and can release thousands of airborne spores.
Usually found indoors in areas without access to natural light and inadequate ventilation, Cladosporium tends to grow in bathrooms, window sills, A/C units and anywhere where condensation builds.
Alternaria will usually grow in fabrics, clothes, wallpapers, air-conditioner systems and window frames and decomposing plants and has a fuzzy texture and will appear with small black spots.
This species is known to cause allergy symptoms such as hay fever, respiratory illness and hypersensitive reactions.
Is mould in the home dangerous?
In small patches, mould is not considered dangerous. However if left untreated, mould can cause health concerns if it begins to spread throughout the home. Common symptoms of excess mould exposure include:
- Rashes and inflammation
- Eye irritations
Mould exposure can pose more serious health conditions for those with existing respiratory conditions and weaker immune systems, as well as children and the elderly. If you find mould on your food, throw it away in its entirety to avoid indigestion.
If you are experiencing mild or severe reactions to mould exposure in your home, it is recommended that you seek a GP or healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms and treatment.
How to remove mould
Mould can be extremely hard to identify from a visual inspection, so it is not advisable to attempt to remove large infestations of mould without professional help. However, for small spot removals there are a few ways to remove mould:
Vinegar: Using a spray bottle, apply undiluted vinegar on to the mould affected area and allow to sit for one hour. Wipe the area clean with a wet cloth and allow the surface to dry.
Bleach: Mix a 1:10 ratio of bleach and water and 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.
If you do attempt to remove mould, ensure that you wear a protective mask and gloves to avoid coming into contact with the mould and inhaling its spores.
Mould can grow in hard to notice places so it can be difficult to see the severity of its growth, especially in dark areas or behind walls. If you believe you have a mould problem, it is recommended to seek out the services of a professional mould removal specialist.
How to prevent mould in the home
Mould needs high levels of moisture, warm, humid environments to grow and spread. The most effective way to prevent mould in your home is to keep the area dry and well ventilated. Here are a few of the best ways to prevent mould:
- Using a dehumidifier, especially in above average humidity climates
- Ensure your bathroom is well ventilated
- Keep all areas of the home dry
- Circulate the air regularly, especially in dark, naturally damp areas
- Clean and dry any flooding, spills or water damage promptly
- Regularly clean out external drainage, guttering, downpipes and eaves
- Fix any leaking or plumbing problems promptly
- Regularly clean the bathroom, shower and toilet
- Regularly clean out air-conditioners and A/C units
When to call in a mould removal professional?
Australian homes can be subject to a range of weather conditions, elevating the risk of mould growth throughout the home. Mould can be prevented by keeping the areas of the home dry and aerated, however, it can spread through high levels of moisture and humid environments.
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 Prevention Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 or click on the link below to book your free inspection today.