As recently as 2009, the World Health Organisation commissioned a comprehensive review into the effects of living in a damp environment, summarising all the current knowledge of the health implications previously published in scientific literature. The conclusions of that report showed that dampness or mould in buildings, especially living spaces, consistently increased certain diseases in people.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these illnesses relate to breathing disorders. An increase in new asthma cases, as well as worsened symptoms in existing asthma sufferers, the onset of bronchitis and sinusitis, as well as other allergy-based illnesses, plus an increase in symptoms of eczema, to name but a few.
Mould spores develop in damp areas and are thought to become concentrated. When these spores become airborne, they potentially transmit diseases to people spending time in that environment.
That’s why it’s important to tackle signs of damp as soon as you discover them. The good news is, once you’ve located a damp area of your home, fixing the problem is usually a fairly routine matter – and after the problem is corrected, keeping the room well ventilated and clean ensures you stay damp-free.
Homes built without correct damp-proofing usually suffer from a lack of correct ventilation, but it is also possible that a home might be too well insulated. A strange side-effect of us becoming more energy efficient in our homes means that we have fewer drafts blowing through the house, meaning a drop in natural air circulation. This will allow that moisture to become trapped in the home.
Look out for dark spots on the ceiling, around window frames, as well as areas of wall, especially those hidden by wardrobes, cupboards and radiators – it’s in these places where damp can lie undetected. Those black spots are the beginnings of mould, and they will spread over time. This occurs when there’s too much moisture in the air and it has nowhere to escape.
Your best prevention to damp is to clean up any condensation that may have gathered on the windows. If you have mould that persists after this, you can purchase a relatively inexpensive condensation mould kit – check with your local hardware supplier for this. Make a habit of opening windows throughout the house when you are at home, allowing for fresh air circulation.
Clean up any mould areas you find with a mould killer solution (again, check your hardware supplier), or simply use anti-bacterial cleaner, bleach or even diluted vinegar for a natural solution – this works especially well when applied with a toothbrush to grout areas around tiling in the bathroom or kitchen. Mouldy shower curtains need taking down and scrubbing (or replacing).
If the problem returns, take a look at the exterior of your home to see if there are any cracked pipes, missing slates or signs of damage. Continual re-emergence of mould may indicate deeper structural problems like rising damp, in which case you will need to consult a professional.
Most of the time, you will find the damp will go if you follow these guidelines. It is always better to prevent a problem than to cure one, so routine ventilation and inspection should always keep damp issues at bay.
Do you have damp or mould problems in your home? Are there areas within your home where you think damp might be an issue? As with most things, if you’re ever in any doubt and you have concerns, it’s always best to get the help of an expert. This is where free business listings can really help out. Try using a free online directory search like Directory Now to find a damp proofing service near to where you live; chances are the tradesmen sites you find will have a good working knowledge of other properties in your area.