Is Your Home Hiding a Deadly Secret?

Find out now and then do this.

I’m not the biggest fan of cleaning house, but there are some things even I won’t ignore. One of those is mould. I’m particularly concerned about a patch on the bathroom ceiling, and rightly so. Mould, it turns out, can cause or intensify various health conditions, including allergic reactions and asthma (which I have).

As we head into World Allergy Week 2018, which begins on April 22, new research out of the University of Queensland has found that exposure to damp housing -- a breeding ground for mould -- is associated with eight per cent of asthma cases in children. And if that’s not bad enough, mould can also do significant structural damage to your home. The really scary thing? You might not even know it’s there.

“At first glance, your home may seem tip top but if you look more closely you may find it’s actually holding more than a few nasty surprises,” says builder and TV star Barry Du Bois.

You see, mould can be sneaky, tending to favour dark, damp and humid areas that are largely out of sight (think stud walls, beneath carpet, in roof cavities or underneath the house itself). So that spot you see on the wall or windowsill might just be the tip of the iceberg.

If mould really gets out of hand, you could be looking at a hefty bill. Professional mould removal treatments start at about $750 to $1,000 for the initial investigation. The treatment itself ranges from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 depending on the size of the property. Ouch.

The trick is to catch it early.

“If you can nip problems like mould in the bud, you’ll save yourself real bucks in the long run,” says The Living Room’s Barry.

Here are some simple tips to keep mould to a minimum.

Image: Getty
Your Mould Action Plan
  1. Identify sources of moisture. The usual culprits are leaking pipes or roof areas, damage around sinks, showers and bathtubs where sealant has worn away and damp spots where rainwater has pooled, commonly under the house. A handy DIY-er can probably tackle these problems themselves. If not, call in a professional.
  2. Stagnant air, humidity and warm temperatures are a recipe for mould. Improving airflow is easy and largely free. Start by doing the following: always hang up damp clothing or towels to dry and cross ventilate your home by opening windows and doors as often as possible.
  3. Ensure that wet areas such as bathrooms are well ventilated -- keep the extractor fan in your bathroom on for extended periods and remember, clothes driers and bathroom extractor fans should vent to the outside not into roof spaces.
  4. Open wardrobe doors and avoid stacking clothes and towels too tightly, place shoes on shoe racks (not on the floor), position furniture and bedding at least 20 to 30 mm from walls and, when it comes time to re-seal walls or windows, ensure you use anti-mould paint.
Image: Getty
Your Natural Mould Killer Recipe

3 parts (1200ml) white fermented vinegar, 1 part (400ml) distilled water, 3 drops of oil of clove, 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda, a squeeze of lemon.

Stir all ingredients together in a bucket, then decant a third into another bucket and reserve for later. Wet a sponge in the liquid, squeeze out any excess and wipe over surfaces to remove mould. Leave it to rest for ten minutes to really work into the pores of the surface to kill the source, then wipe down with a fresh microfiber cloth dipped in the reserved batch of liquid.