By Sophie Neaves on Mon 27 February 2023
Why is household mould bad for your health and how can MVHR prevent it?
In recent years, councils in the UK have faced surging numbers of complaints from tenants about mould. In just two months, the City of Lincoln Council received 319 complaints.
Growing awareness of the dangers mould presents is certainly contributing to the rising tide of complaints. It’s no longer just seen as something unsightly and undesirable in our homes. Increasingly, people recognise that mould poses a serious health risk and should be stamped out as soon as it appears.
However, mould prevention is always better than cure, so what can be done to stop mould occurring in the first place?
What is household mould?
Mould is a microorganism formed by certain kinds of fungi. Requiring moisture for growth, moulds can thrive almost anywhere in the natural world and spread through spores.
In our homes, one of the most common types of mould is black mould. But mould can also produce fuzzy white or green patches. If you find this unwelcome guest in your home, you’ll notice it’s accompanied by a damp and musty odour.
Mould often occurs on walls, ceilings and pipes, where it finds the moisture it needs to grow. But it can also take hold on wood, fabric and carpet, among other surfaces. As a result, people can find furniture, clothing, wallpaper and all manner of household items ruined by mould. It can even infect insulation and drywall, affecting the very fabric of your house.
What’s more, damp and mould growth can soon get out of hand.
As soon as you spot signs of mould, take action to both clean it up and address the underlying cause. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so once you’ve rid your house of it, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t reappear.
Why do we get mould in our homes?
The UK is one of the few places on Earth with an oceanic climate, which means milder temperatures than would normally be found this far north. However, it also means a humid climate.
For mould and damp, which thrive on moisture, this is welcome news.
If a house has leaking pipes, damaged windows or roofs, or even rising damp underneath it, that moisture will soon find a way inside. New homes can also fall victim to damp if the water used during construction hasn’t dried out in time.
As heating costs have risen substantially, many people have been tempted to use their heating systems more sparingly when temperatures outside have fallen. However, this can result in condensation, leading to moisture inside and, potentially, mould.
How does household mould affect your health?
There is now great focus on reducing the prevalence of mould in homes – to protect residents’ health – particularly in rental properties. According to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, tenants can take a landlord to court if their home is deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’.
So what can mould do to your health?
People living in a mould-affected property are more likely to experience respiratory conditions, including asthma, infections and allergies. Inhaling or touching mould spores can cause skin rashes, irritated eyes and other allergic reactions, even in people who don’t have asthma. And if people do have asthma, mould can provoke coughing, breathlessness and wheezing.
As well as those with existing respiratory or skin conditions, mould can also be more hazardous for the young and old. People with weakened immune systems can also be more at risk – due to the illness itself or the medication they must take.
How do you prevent mould in your home?
The surest way to prevent mould is by removing the causes – or potential causes – of moisture from a home. This means keeping a close eye on areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and windows, where there are high levels of moisture. If water vapour and droplets in these spaces come into contact with a cold surface (like an uninsulated external wall), you’re left with ideal conditions for mould to grow.
There are many practical steps you can take to minimise moisture in your home. These include drying wet clothes outside, removing water droplets from windows and leaving doors open to provide some ventilation.
But how does ventilation prevent mould? Well a properly ventilated space simply denies mould the chance to take root and reproduce – by taking moisture away from a home. Achieving a constant airflow into and out of a house means moisture can be dispelled quicker. For that, you need mechanical ventilation.
How does MVHR stop household mould?
If you’re wondering how to get rid of mould on walls permanently, UK businesses and new-build housing developments are now turning to mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). Installing an MVHR system is by far the most effective measure you can take to properly ventilate your home and banish mould from it.
So how does an MVHR system stop mould?
MVHR works against mould in two ways. Firstly, it extracts humid air from a home, minimising the possibility of condensation forming. Secondly, MVHR heats spaces as it ventilates them. This means there are no cold surfaces where any condensation might gather.
What’s more, with MVHR, you don’t lose the heat from the stale air being extracted. It passes through a heat exchanger and is transferred to the incoming fresh air. The energy and cost savings are significant.
From allergies to respiratory conditions, mould poses serious health risks, particularly for young, old and immunosuppressed people. In the UK, the potential for mould is high due to the wet climate – and mould can quickly spread throughout a house.
Thankfully, If you’re wondering how to prevent mould in your home, MVHR exists to provide the most complete answer to the problem.