With Spring fast approaching and the cold Winter months almost at an end, you might be planning a spring clean. You’re moving all of your furniture around to get a good clean and notice that there is a blackish green mould patch on the wall behind the sofa.
That’s condensation mould! It forms on water that has condensed back from a gas into a liquid as it cools allowing mould spores, that are always floating freely in the air, to attach themselves to the moisture and spread.
Whilst condensation is a form of dampness, its causes are normally reflective of the lifestyle of the occupants rather than a defect per se. By drying clothes on radiators, we are adding moisture to the air within the home and without proper ventilation (opening a window) providing an escape for the excess moisture, it is likely to lead to condensation when it cools.
So how do we stop condensation, or at least reduce it?
There are several things we can do to help reduce the level of moisture in the air within our home, here are some examples;
- Produce less moisture, try not to dry clothes on the radiators and when possible dry them outside.
- Remove excess moisture, open the windows and allow the excess moisture to escape.
- Heat your home adequately, heating the home allows the moisture to be warmed up and return to the air rather than be settled on the walls or windows. It is then easier to remove.
- Improve ventilation, as it is not always possible to open the windows you could incorporate some form of mechanical ventilation to allow the excess moisture to leave your home.
- Keep furniture away from the walls, this provides space for the air to circulate rather than sit stale behind the furniture and cool. Once it is circulating, the moisture in the air can be removed by ventilation.
Striking the right balance between warmth, ventilation, circulation and production of moisture is important and can be very effective at reducing condensation but by opening windows or ventilating your home it may appear that you are losing some heat, but what you are actually doing is allowing warm moisture-laden air to escape and allowing dry air to enter your home reducing the moisture content within the home that causes the condensation.
This doesn’t mean keep your windows open in the middle of the winter and whack up the heating as that would be a waste of your money but try to remember to open the windows when your activities are producing moisture, when showering, boiling water for cooking or drying clothes inside for example.
What do we do about the mould that has already formed behind the sofa?
Well, this is slightly easier as all its takes is a bit of diluted bleach or fungicidal wash, following any instructions on the bottle, and wipe over the affected area until it is clean. It may take 2 or 3 passes with a cloth to ensure that the area is clear of mould spores. It is important that you wipe the mould away rather than brush or scrub at it as this can lead to the mould spores being released back into the air to float around and find another patch or condensation to grow on.