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Inviting mould into your home through your laundry

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The Laundry and Mould

What does mould need to thrive? A warmth moist environment and something to cling to. It is no wonder then that that the laundry and dirty clothes hampers, in fact, are the perfect regions for mould to grow, as they commonly provide mould spores daily access to a lavish supply of decaying organic material such as dirt, dust, urine, hair, body oils, sweat, food, etc to feed on and, as well as generally being a moist environment.

With all that being said, your chances of acquiring mould growth in your laundry or dirty clothes hampers are especially high. Sometimes depending on the climate that you reside in, having mould come into your home through your laundry can be a constant battle, especially in the higher humidity climates or in homes that have moisture issues.
Even if a home does not suffer from moisture issues, the usual mundane daily tasks performed within your laundry could be inviting and maintaining mould growth.

What do you do with your dirty clothes?

When your family removes their soiled clothes, what do they do with them? Do they sit in a heap in the corner of a room? On the floor of the bathroom? Get pushed under the bed or shoved to the bottom the wardrobe? Or do they all comply and pop it in the designated laundry hamper?

No matter where the clothes are placed, the important part is what state the dirty clothes were left in when they were placed there and how long it took for them to make it to the washing machine!

Dirty washing can be soiled with food

You may have mopped up a milk spill with a towel. Your child may have spilled their weetbix all over their pjs at breakfast. You may have accidentally dumped your coffee all down your shirt first thing this morning…. You get the idea… If this happens, throw it in the wash that day, not at the end of the week.

Dirty washing can be soiled with sweat

Mould loves bodily fluids… Yes. So those gym clothes need to be washed TODAY. Those sweaty work clothes need to be washed as soon as possible, and yes the kids sweaty school uniforms need to go into the machine at your earliest convenience. While these things may not feel damp to touch, bundling them up and letting them sit in the hamper for a few days is not a good idea.

Dirty washing can be wet

Your toddler may have wet their pants, or a wet towel may be sitting at the bottom of the basket from this mornings shower. More and more items could end up piled up on top of this and the items on the bottom stay wet. The wet items will likely be forgotten about and end up being left to become a mould-breeding playground.

Within the clothes hamper

Moist laundry or severely soiled laundry thrown into the hamper, or piled onto the floor somewhere can cause a spot of trouble. This is because as mentioned, more and more dirty items are usually piled on top and that towel that was put in early this morning never dries!

Some days life is busy, crazy even, and you may not be able to put a wash on every day. Yes, guarantee more often than not that wet towel will be forgotten about. Sometimes that wet or soiled item may be a different fabric or colour that can’t be washed with other items. That may mean you will have to delay its washing even further.

It is also important to look at the hamper itself when you take the items out. Is there any excess moisture that needs removing with a cloth? If it’s fabric, does it need a run through the machine also? Take a look, because if there is moisture build up, soilage or mould within the hamper, that could be getting into your clothes and spreading through your home.

During and after the machine wash

Always use the right laundry detergent and the right temperature for each specific load. You want to make sure that each item has been fully cleaned to remove any organic matter which is food for mould.

Once your load is done, remove it from the machine as soon as you possibly can. Leaving wet washing in the machine leaves that musty smell, and keeps a nice moist environment for mould. Try and hang it or put it in the dryer as soon as you can.

Always make sure you leave your washer door open so that the machine can dry out completely before closing it. A lot of mould can build up in washing machines, this is one way to combat this. Running some white vinegar through an empty wash cycle is another good way to clean out your washing machine and reduce the risk of mould growth.

Within the clothes hamper

It’s important that you try to keep your laundry clean and well ventilated. Dryers should be ducted outside, and if this is not possible, a window or door needs to be open when the dryer is operating. Benches should be wiped down regularly to keep dust to a minimum, and the floor should be swept or vacuumed weekly.

The machines themselves need a good wipedown weekly and the filters emptied and cleaned out regularly. Always ensure that pipes and hosing are attached tightly and correctly to avoid any water leaks.

When it’s too late and the mould has taken hold

Sometimes it’s a little too late, and you may need a professional to come in and take a look at the situation. At Mould Pro we have years of experience with dealing with mould testing and mould remediation and we would love to help. Give us a call and have a chat with one of our friendly staff today.

What I have learnt from experiencing a mouldy house

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Lucy Jones lived in your average older house in the suburbs of Brisbane with her husband and two kids. They had only just bought the house 3 months prior. Soon after moving in they started to notice the kind of sickness they had hardly felt before. “I would go through a box of tissues a day. My kids and I were constantly blowing our noses and coughing. We were all sleeping more than ever, and we just felt terrible. Luckily my husband Joe didn’t suffer as badly, he only thought he had a touch of hayfever.”

What Lucy didn’t know at the time, was that there was some major mould issues in their house. Here are Lucy’s recommendations below:

  1. If you smell any musty odors or visible signs of mould – never ignore it! (Mould in the shower is fine – Though you should really clean it!) If you are seeing mould in places you wouldn’t usually expect to find it, like in your wardrobe, on clothes, under the bed, on shoes or on the back of artworks hanging on the wall – Get it checked out! Inhaling mould spores is damaging to your health. Mould specialists can test these areas and more to work out what type of mould it is and where it is coming from.

     

  2. If you discover mould, don’t try to clean it yourself. It needs to be done in a certain way so that spores don’t spread, multiply and become inhaled by home occupants. Again, a mould expert needs to find the cause of the mould and where it’s coming from. Unfortunately Lucy’s house was on a sloping block and due to lack of drainage water was pooling underneath causing many moisture issues.

     

  3. When purchasing or renting a home, be careful of drainage issues. If purchasing, get a proper building inspection and ensure that they check the drainage. Lucy also discovered once the mould surveyors came in that the roof also had some leaking areas and some of the guttering needed replacing. These are also issues that will cause the growth of mould due to excess moisture getting through. If you’re renting and you start to notice mould or excess moisture issues, contact your landlord to have it inspected ASAP.

     

  4. You need to keep a home as well ventilated as possible. This could be just creating more airflow in the home by opening more windows and doors. Ducting clothes dryers to the outside of the laundry. Using your exhaust fan in the kitchens and extraction fans in the bathrooms. In some homes this is simply not enough and you need to look into a ventilation system. Check out https://www.zephyrventilation.net.au/ – We definitely recommend these guys for ventilation of your home.

     

  5. If you find you are suffering with upper respiratory health issues that are just not moving on, please have your home checked for mould. The mould and moisture could definitely be hidden. Perhaps it is behind a wall, or under the flooring. Living in the humid climate of QLD, where it frequently rains you never know when excess water can be trickling into hidden areas.

“For anyone who may have spotted mould in their house or is experiencing chronic health problems and just don’t know what to do about it or even where to begin I hope that this article is a good start.” Says Lucy. “I was just so thankful that someone recommended getting in touch with a mould expert, such as Mould Pro”.

Mould in your home after flooding

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Those who lived in Brisbane in 2011 know first-hand that we live in a crazy world. Mother nature can flex her muscles at any moment and send water where we never intended it to go. Since mould grows and thrives in a moisture rich environment, a flooded home is perfect. Mould is the last thing we want in our home. Not only does it look and smell terrible, but it is a health hazard to you and your family.

What can you do about it?

About the flooding? Not much sadly, except maybe live at the top of a hill, or an apartment building off the ground floor. But once your home has been flooded, there are things you can do to minimise the amount of mould that will grow:

  • Start hauling wet things, especially plush items like pillows, upholstered furniture, or curtains out of the house to a place like the garage or the driveway where they can dry.
    Use a shop vac or wet vac to suck water out of soggy carpets.
  • Fans can help get air moving in enclosed spaces, but be aware they may not be enough.
  • Consider renting or buying a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels low in the air in rooms you’re trying to dry. Basements and big areas may require larger, commercial-sized machines.
  • Remove baseboards and skirting boards from flooded walls.
  • Cut small openings along the bases of walls to let air into the wall to dry the back as well as the front.

How long have you got?

The faster you act, the more you can save. “You’ve really got 24 to 36 hours to work with,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Centre for Healthy Housing, a not for profit organization that wrote a guide to help residents clean up flooded homes after Hurricane Katrina. Mould is dangerous to those with asthma or pre-existing health problems, but high levels of mould are dangerous to otherwise healthy people.

DIY or call in the professionals?

If you choose to clean it up yourself don’t forget to use protection. A respirator – either a P95 or a P100 – will keep particles out of your lungs. Wear non-porous gloves, eye protection and coveralls to protect your clothing. Open windows and make sure the room is well ventilated. Do NOT mix bleach with other cleaning products to kill the mould. Mixing bleach and ammonia and other cleaning products will produce toxic fumes which are dangerous to you.

If more than one room of your house has been flood affected you should probably call in the professionals. They will bring in big fans and dehumidifiers to dry everything out. This needs to happen before you can even think of getting rid of the mould. No point wiping it off for it to grow back again! They will also be able to take care of testing and certifying how well they do the job, which the insurance company will want to see.

It is not uncommon for flooded properties to also have trouble with fire and smoke damage, from electrical fires that can occur from appliances and wiring getting wet. If this is the case with you then look at a company like www.disasterrestorations.com.au. They can take care of that and deal with the insurance company too.

Want to talk to one of our professionals? Contact us today for an obligation free quote.

What are the main causes of mould in your home?

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You’ve noticed that “musty” smell, and you are wondering – Is there mould in my home? And what has caused it?

Mould is a visual sign of excess moisture in your home and it grows due to various reasons. The most common cause of mould growth in your home is due to excess condensation, and many people do not realise just how much condensation can be created by normal everyday life in the home. Condensation is quite ok in your average house, but it should dry up fairly quickly or if it continues to lay stagnant mould could start to grow.

Mould is naturally part of our environment. Outdoors it breaks down dead organic matter such as leaves and dead trees. While outdoors mould can be a good thing, indoors it can cause havoc and should be avoided, not only does and it smell and look awful, it can cause nasty effects on our health. The way mould reproduces in your home is through the multiplication of tiny spores. The spores are so tiny that you are very unlikely to see them as they float through the air. Mould can begin growing in your home once these tiny spores land on moist surfaces. All mould need moisture to grow, therefore identifying any sources of condensation and abolishing them as quickly as possible should be a priority.

Building materials are great homes for mould growth. Excess moisture can be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials, such as concrete, floor boards, carpet and so on. Flooding, whether it be by rising waters, flash flooding or any inside water accidents caused by faulty indoor plumbing can create a marvellous breeding ground for mould growth. Leaking roofs can also be a major contributor to mould. Moisture vapour passes through walls and ceilings and typically condenses over the cooler months with a longer heating season. As long as a surface is porous and moist, mould growth has the opportunity to occur. With the right conditions mold growth begins from 24 hours to 10 days.

Large mould growths require not only moisture but food sources – such as dust and cellulose. Housing materials such as plywood, drywall, carpet and underlay provide the perfect outlet for mould spores to source their nutrition. If a building experiences water damage mould is likely to grow within walls and lay dormant until humidity rises. If there is inadequate airflow with the building this is when the problem can really take hold. Nasty Mycotoxin levels are much higher in buildings that have had water damage, such as flooding or plumbing incidents. Even after the building has completely dried out, mould can still be an issue.

Mould can sometimes be hidden!

You can usually detect mould in your home by it’s smell and signs of water damage on walls or ceiling. But it can grow in places that you can’t generally see. It can be found behind wallpaper or wall paneling, on the inside of ceiling tiles, the back of drywall, or the underside of carpets or underlay. Plumbing pipes within walls may also be a source of mold, since they can sometimes leak causing moisture and condensation.
If you have found that your mould problems only occur during certain times of the year, your house is possibly lacking in airflow and ventilation. Mould problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the hotter months when humidity is high inside the house, and moisture is trapped and unable to dry out. It can also occur in drafty buildings more frequently in the colder months when the warm air escapes from the living area and causes condensation.

What to do if you suspect a mould problem?

Get in an expert. You need to get the mould assessed to see what type it is and the best way to treat it before it spreads further and puts your family’s health at risk. Sometimes if the mould is hidden, like in the roof cavity on within walls you will have no idea where exactly to locate the main source or how to treat it correctly without further damaging areas of your home. Intrusive observation is sometimes needed to assess the mould level. This can include moving furniture, lifting or even removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking ventilation ductwork and exposing wall cavities. Heavy mould growth will require professional mould remediation to remove and replace the affected building materials and eliminate the source of excess moisture. The aims of professional remediation are to treat or worst case remove contaminated materials and preventing further spores from entering a non-contaminated area. At Mould Pro we are experts in mould testing, assessment, treatment and removal. We can guide you through what you need to know to work through the process. Give us a call and one of our experienced team will be happy to assist you today.

Mould-proofing your Home for the Wet Season

It’s springtime. Therefore there is a lot of storms and rainy days, all the while humidity is also usually at it’s highest. This is prime conditions for mould spores to spread their wings and multiply. Mould is not only unsightly and smells awful, it also has negative impacts on our health and wellbeing.

So how can we go about mould-proofing our home for the wet season?

Identify any potential problematic ‘zones’

Do you notice any condensation on your windows or blinds in the morning when you get up? Do you wipe it down to dry it? Blinds, curtains and shutters are often hotspots for mould growth as that is where a lot of night time condensation gathers.

Have you noticed any overhead dripping pipes outside? Sometimes these dripping pipes can cause issues with moisture build-up that can go on to cause ‘rising damp’ that can go unnoticed until it is a big problem. It is best to check the reason why these pipes are dripping, and lead them away from your building and to a drainage area.

What about your laundry? Is the dryer correctly connected to an outdoor vent? Or are you drying your clothes is a hot steamy laundry that is the perfect breeding ground for mould growth. How are the extraction fans in your bathrooms? Are they strong enough to remove steam and condensation from your bathrooms?

Are there any drainage problems you have noticed around your property after heavy downpours? Water pooling in areas up against your building is not a good sign.

Any and all of these can lead to damp and, ultimately, mould. Take care to address such issues with effective moisture control at your earliest convenience.

Good Ventilation in your property can be the key

When cooking always use your range hood fan so that the steam escapes. Have your clothes dryer connected to an outdoor vent so that the moisture escapes outside rather than steaming up your laundry. If you are unable to do this, open up a window, or add a screen door to your laundry for ventilation. When you can, open up your bathroom windows after showers so that the bathroom can completely dry out.

Airing out bedrooms in the mornings is also a great move to stave off damp and combat mould growth.

For more information on the BEST ventilation ideas for your home check out www.zephyrventilation.net.au.

Clean and inspect your roof gutters

Always clean out your gutters regularly, and if you are unable to do this yourself, have a professional do it for you. During your clean out you can see if there are any cracked and damaged guttering that may need replacing. Having a professional do this at the time can also mean they may be able to repair or replace cracked or damaged guttering at the same time as the cleaning is being done. Cracked and damaged roof gutters can allow moisture to seep through to areas where it shouldn’t be, allowing the build up of damp and eventually mould.

Keeping your roof gutters cleaned, and in good condition on a regular basis is one of the most effective moisture control techniques. Not only does it help with moisture in your roof cavity, but also leaking gutters can cause damp build up in areas of your property that would not normally happen if gutters were maintained correctly.

Have your roof inspected on a regular basis

Having your roof professionally inspected on a regular basis will ensure that any potential leak hazards can be found and rectified. It could be anything from cracked and damaged tiles to old or incorrectly installed skylights that can lead to roof leaks. Having a regular inspection will allow the professional to discover any potential leaks that can be repaired so as to prevent any future risk of damp and mould growth.

Roof tiles can break easily when they’re stepped on, so it’s important to take care if accessing your roof. Tiles can also become broken or cracked by branches dropping onto them, and even from children throwing items onto the roof, such as heavy balls and cricket bats. Skylights can also problematic for leaks. It’s possible for installation to be performed incorrectly, leaving gaps where water can get through. They can also become cracked and damaged by hailstones and branches. The usual wear and tear is also a factor, with older skylights developing more leaks.

For roofs that are constructed from a metal material such as steel or tin, it’s important to watch for the signs of rusting, as severe rust can lead to holes developing. Identifying rust early and taking steps to repair any damage can help prevent any extensive problems leading to leakage. Chimneys are another common cause of roof leaks, with inadequately waterproofed chimneys often being the complication.

What’s Next?

If you’re not quite sure where to start when it comes to mould-proofing your home, or you have discovered a bit of a damp mouldy smell coming from an area in your house, or perhaps you’ve had your roof checked and there are some issues with leakage – You may need some help to ensure that the problems don’t escalate. Feel free to give us a call at Mould Pro today so that we can assist you with mould-proofing your home before the next lot of rain comes through.