Moisture and Mould Prevention and Control Tips

The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mould problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mould may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.
 

Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely. Scrub mould off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become mouldy. Mould can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely. Avoid exposing yourself or others to mould. Do not paint or caulk mouldy surfaces. Clean up the mould and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over mouldy surfaces is likely to peel. If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

Moisture Control

Moisture control is the key to mould control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-36 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mould will not grow. Clean and repair roof gutters regularly. Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation. Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly. Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 50 percent (ideally between 30 and 45 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores. If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Actions that will help to reduce humidity: Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapour and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.) Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed. Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or washing dishes, etc.

Actions that will help prevent condensation:

  • Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
  • Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
  • Increase air temperature.

Cleanup and Biocides

Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mould (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mould cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

Please note: Dead mould may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mould, it must also be removed.


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