Winter’s Chill Creates Ideal Mould Environment

 

The strata sector is at risk of increased mould growth as Winter continues to create an environment with heat, condensation (moisture), and reduced ventilation.

What is Mould?

Mould is part of a group of quite common organisms called fungi that also include mushrooms and yeast. It is present virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.

Mould may grow indoors in wet or moist areas lacking adequate ventilation, including walls/ wallpaper, ceilings, bathroom tiles, carpets (especially those with jute backing), insulation material and wood.

If moisture accumulates in a building mould growth will often occur.

Many different types of mould exist and all have the potential to cause health problems.

Who is at Risk?

People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mould. People with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy or people who have received an organ transplant) and with chronic lung diseases (such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema) are more at risk of mould infection particularly in their lungs.

How can I prevent mould from growing in my home?

Although mould can be found almost anywhere, it needs moisture and nutrients to grow. The key to preventing mould growth is reducing dampness in the home.

This can be done by:

Maintaining proper ventilation

  • Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes.
  • Open windows when weather permits, to improve cross ventilation.

Reduce humidity

  • Limit the use of humidifiers.
  • Limit the number of fish tanks and indoor plants.
  • Limit use of unflued gas heaters

Controlling moisture/dampness

If water enters your home, completely clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials. Discard material that cannot be cleaned and dried completely.

What can I to do if I have mould in my home?

It is good to remove mould as soon as it appears. This may take some effort. Remember that mould is likely to return unless you also take steps to treat the cause of the problem

How can I remove mould from my home?

For routine cleanup of mouldy surfaces, Health NSW suggests the use of mild detergent or vinegar diluted in water solution (4 parts vinegar to 1 part water).

  • If the mould is not readily removed and the item cannot be discarded, use diluted bleach solution (250mls of bleach in 4 litres of water) to clean the surface. When using bleach, protective equipment is recommended: PVC or nitrate rubber gloves; safety glasses; and safety shoes. Make sure the area is well-ventilated while you are cleaning with bleach.
  • Ensure the surface is dried completely once cleaned.
  • Absorbent materials, such as carpet may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced if they are contaminated with mould.

Landlords and Tenants:

Mould can cause a state of disrepair at rented premises. This can be the result of a breach of the residential tenancy agreement by the landlord or the tenant (e.g. the landlord fails to attend to dampness or the tenant fails to ventilate the premises).

Tenants must:

  • keep the premises ‘reasonably’ clean
  • tell the landlord about any damage to the premises as soon as possible
  • take reasonable steps to mitigate (limit or avoid) loss

Landlords must:

  • provide the premises reasonably clean and comply with minimum standards to be “fit for habitation”, including having adequate ventilation, plumbing and drainage
  • ensure that the premises are structurally sound, such that floors, ceilings, walls and supporting structures are not subject to significant dampness; and that roof, ceilings and windows do not allow water penetration into the premises keep the premises in ‘reasonable’ repair (except where the disrepair is caused by the tenant breaching the tenancy agreement) mitigate loss.

 

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