If you’re worried you may have a patch of black mould growing in your home, don’t panic. Here’s everything you need to know about identifying it and removing it from your house for good.
Black mould is the common name of a fungus called stachybotrys chartarum. It can be dark green, brown, grey, or black and tends to appear in water-damaged buildings where conditions are damp. It can be especially prevalent in areas with poor air circulation, like bathrooms and basements. You should also look out for it behind furniture that’s pushed against the wall and in the corners of your rooms.
It’s caused by moisture in the air settling on surfaces where spores are able to start growing. When it’s active, it will have a slimy texture.
Humid areas of your home can be a breeding ground for black mould. For instance, having a hot shower and not opening a window, condensation collecting on a windowsill when you have the heating on, or having a steamy kitchen while you’re cooking.
Apart from not being very aesthetically pleasing, black mould can seriously affect your health.
If you have an existing respiratory condition, like asthma or cystic fibrosis, black mould can exacerbate your symptoms.
Once it starts to grow and releases spores into the air, it can trigger asthma attacks and the longer you have exposure to it, the worse it can get.
You should be extra vigilant if there are infants or children living in the property and precautions should be taken if elderly or pregnant people are present, too. Basically, anyone with a weakened immune system needs to be careful around black mould.
Mycotoxins produced by black mould can cause symptoms including:
To identify whether you have black mould in your home, you should check for:
Once you’ve found the black mould, you can have it removed and see if the issues subside.
If it’s a persistent problem, you may need to seek professional treatment. This could include removal of the mould with strong cleaning products, as well as installing a ventilation unit in your property to circulate fresh air throughout the whole home. This should stop any regrowth and improve the quality of the air.
You should be able to remove smaller areas of mould yourself using a fungicidal or mouldicide wash. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging and wear protective gear, like goggles, a mask and gloves, when doing the removal.
Note that using domestic soap and cleaning sprays won’t effectively remove the mould and it may return quickly.
After you’ve removed the mould, you may want to use an anti-condensation treatment, like anti-mould emulsion, which contains biocides to prevent fungus growth. You can also get anti-condensation coating for pipework and ceilings. It works by absorbing moisture, so condensation doesn’t become a problem. If paint isn’t your thing, you can even get anti-condensation wallpaper for walls and ceilings.
Before removing the mould, you should investigate the suspected cause and take steps to stop it growing, and/or coming back once you’ve removed it.
This may include:
This should help stop moisture building up in your home, so the black mould won’t have the right conditions to grow.
However, you usually won’t be covered for black mould removal and treatment as it’s typically caused by humidity and condensation in a property. This could be due to poor ventilation or damaged pipes and plumbing, which wouldn’t be covered by insurance.
If the black mould is the result of an insured event, for instance, if a pipe was damaged during a burglary which led to damp in your home, you may be able to claim. The insurer will require evidence that it was caused by the burglary, rather than poor maintenance though.