by The Canadian Real Estate Association
What is Mould?
Moulds are microscopic organisms, or fungi, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Although they are a part of the natural environment, moulds are undesirable when they grow where we don’t want them, such as in homes. Over 270 species of mould have been identified as living in Canadian homes.
Moulds are always found in the air outside and inside all buildings. They come into the home in many ways - through open windows or doors, on clothing, pets, food or furniture. The problems start when mould grows inside the home. Mould has the potential to cause adverse heath affects, as well as property damage.
What are the warning signs of possible mould growth?
Discoloration is a sign of mould. However, all discolouration is not due to mould. Carpeting near baseboards, for example, can be stained by outdoor pollution entering the home.
Mould may be any colour: black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet. Dab a drop of household bleach onto a suspected spot. If the stain loses its colour or disappears, it may be mould. If there is no change, it probably isn’t mould. Sometimes moulds are hidden and cannot be seen. A musty or earthy smell often indicates the presence of moulds. But a smell may not be present for all moulds. Even if a smell is not evident, wet spots, dampness or water leaks are indications of moisture problems and mould may follow.
Getting Rid of Mould
It is impossible to get rid of all mould and mould spores indoors. Some mould spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. Because mould can never be completely removed, professional use the term ‘abatement’ when describing mould removal.
However, the mould spores will not grow if moisture is not present. By controlling the moisture level inside the home, indoor mould growth can be prevented. Once mould growth is located inside the home, it is important to act quickly. Mould damages what it grows on, and the longer it grows, the more damage it can cause.
In all situations, the underlying cause of water accumulation must be corrected or mould growth will recur. To dispose of mould and prevent re-growth, seek professional help and control the moisture in the home.
Seeking Professional Help
The Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) recommends seeking professional help when there is an extensive amount of mould and the home is very damp and moist. Professional help will also be required if mould comes back after repeated cleaning and if a family member suffers from asthma or respiratory problems or other health problems that appear to be aggravated inside the home.
Mould needs moisture to grow. Controlling the moisture and keeping the home dry prevents the growth of mould. Check the home for signs of moisture and moulds. Moisture is produced in the home through daily activities like bathing, washing clothes or cooking. High moisture levels can be the result of water coming in from the outside, through the floor, walls or roof; of from plumbing leaks. Moisture can also accumulate within the home when there is not enouch ventilation to expel the excess water. The most common sources for moisture that can develop are roof, walls or basement leaks.