Why Good Ventilation is Not Enough to Stop Mould Growth

Open the windows more often. Keep the exhaust fans running.

These are the most common advice you’ll hear about stopping mould growth. However, these ventilation tips are not enough to stop the moulds from harming your health.

It’s especially the case with people who have asthma, allergies and other breathing conditions. They are vulnerable to the spores being produced by the moulds. Even to healthy people, these spores could cause running or blocked nose, eye and skin irritations, wheezing and possibly severe reactions. In fact, moulds may even cause long-term and irreversible effects to the building occupants.

Why good ventilation is not enough to stop mould growth

Moulds need nutrients and moisture to grow. Both of these can be easily found almost anywhere. However, moisture could be abundant in poorly designed buildings. Persistently high humidity levels and cold spots could result to moisture build-up in some areas. Water leaks and plumbing problems (e.g. leaking roofs, burst water pipes) would also help create the ideal conditions for mould growth. Lack of insulation may also promote condensation (water vapour reaches dew point and condenses onto a surface).

Notice that all of them have almost nothing to do with ventilation. Although excellent ventilation still helps in reducing condensation and dampness, it’s not enough to protect yourself from the harmful health effects of moulds. It’s only the first step in controlling mould growth. Still, the most effective approach is identifying the root causes of condensation and dampness and then taking measures to correct them.

Prevent water & air penetration, proper insulation

One effective way to limit condensation and dampness is to prevent water from entering in the first place. Take note that water may enter either in liquid form (e.g. through rain) or water vapour (which could later condense on your dwelling’s cold spots). That’s why it’s always recommended to improve air and water tightness. In addition, the holes, cracks and gaps in the structure should all be sealed.

Proper insulation can also help prevent widespread mould growth. For example, builders and renovators might insulate the bathroom interior walls and/or install vapour barriers (to slow down moisture movement into the interiors). Additional insulation might also be installed in walls to prevent these surfaces from being too cold (cold spots are the areas where water vapour condenses).

As mentioned earlier, water leaks and plumbing problems may also worsen dampness and condensation. The water from the leaks will be a good water source and the area will be a thriving environment for moulds. That’s why these leaks and plumbing issues should be detected and repaired right away. However, these can be difficult to detect because most pipes are hidden underneath floors, walls and ceilings.

What you could do to control dampness & condensation

Although moulds are visible, the environment on which they can grow might be hard to see. You can’t just point to a wall and say there’s dampness and it’s a cold spot (unless there are visible moulds already which indicate you’re a bit late).

That’s why many building owners, homeowners and property managers request for a professional inspection instead. For example, here at Sydney Building Defects Inspections and Reports (SBDIR) we perform Damp and Thermography Inspections. With the use of specialist tools and our expertise, we determine damp areas and their root causes. We’ll also advise you of how to specifically deal with those problems (e.g. perhaps it may require total removal of the mould-infested material).

Contact us today if you want to make your property safe from moulds and identify the exact risks to you or your tenants.