WITH the UK having been truly battered by Storm Ciaran over the past few days, there’s no doubt that winter is well on its way.
As cold and damp conditions set in, the likelihood of spotting black mould in your home can increase.
But while your first instinct may be to simply paint over it, this is something you must never do, according to professional decorator, Wayne de Wet, (@ToolTalk1 on Instagram).
He has been a verified member of Checkatrade for 15 years.
He told The Sun: “Painting over it could result in you spreading the mould into plaster or woodwork.
"If it gets embedded, this could end up harming the structure of your property.
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"This could result in hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds’ worth or damage.”
Wayne warns that the bill for rectifying damage caused to a small bathroom could be between £1,000 and £1,500, adding that if you end up needing to replace a ceiling or re-plaster, costs could escalate further.
He said: “At the same time, if you end up with a particularly bad case of mould across your entire property, you could face costs of between £800 and £1,000 to remove it.”
Mould and mildew are caused when there is a high level of moisture in the air in your home.
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The problem can often be worse in under-heated or poorly ventilated homes.
Spores can grow on walls and ceilings, and you may notice fuzzy black, white or green patches.
“Mould is a horrible thing to have to deal with and it’s so important to sort it out properly,” said Wayne.
“But while you may be tempted to get rid of it quickly by painting over it, this is not a good idea.
"Quick fixes on problem areas, such as ceilings, walls and painted woodwork will end up costing you more in the long run.
"Mould is a living organism. It will continue to grow unless it is killed properly.”
The mould spores, he adds, will still be alive beneath the coat of paint.
“They will soon show through again,” he said. “By failing to prepare properly, you are in fact preparing to fail.”
While any type of mould can be dangerous, black mould can cause a range of health issues, with children at great risk.
Milder symptoms can include headaches, skin rashes and respiratory damage, while long-term exposure can cause chronic illness.
The decorating supremo added: “Black mould is particularly nasty.
"It’s important not to touch or move this toxic form of mould as this could lead to it releasing millions of harmful spores into the air.”
Getting rid of this toxic fuzz safely is vital.
You can remove it by wiping down walls and surfaces with a dedicated spray. These are readily available at supermarkets.
At Tesco, you can pick up the Cillit Bank power cleaner black mould remover spray (750ml) for £3.50.
But be sure to wear protective gear such as gloves and a face mask, as spores can travel in the air.
Also open the windows in the room and close any doors to stop the spores from entering other rooms.
If you’re looking for a cheaper – and more natural – way to deal with mould, you can try using vinegar.
On Amazon, you can pick up a five-litre bottle of white vinegar for around £6.
Some experts recommend mixing one tablespoon of vinegar with one of baking soda, and one of hot water to create a paste.
That said, given that removing black mould yourself can be dangerous, Wayne recommends calling in expert help.
“The best way to remove mould is to hire a professional to do it safely,” he said.
“As a guide, you could be looking at a cost of around £225 per job.”
Tips to help keep mould at bay
Once you’ve got rid of mould, it’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of it returning.
“Ventilation is a key factor in preventing the growth of mould,” said Wayne.
“I would recommend installing a fan and humidistat.”
One of these is a switch which controls the fan depending on the amount of moisture in the air.
Another simple tip is to ensure you allow fresh air to flow into your home as often as possible.
Admittedly, this is harder in the winter, but you should still try to open windows for short periods.
Don’t forget to open the windows when drying clothes inside, and at all costs avoid drying wet clothes on the radiator.
Further, as cooking can create a lot of condensation, remember to use pan lids to try and reduce moisture getting into the air.
Keeping the inside of your home above 15°C will help to stop condensation from forming.
But if you find your house or flat is still filled with excess moisture, you could consider a dehumidifier.
Bear in mind though, that as well as the initial price tag, these devices also cost money to run as they use electricity.
Another clever – and cheaper – solution involves using a plant called a peace lily which absorbs extra moisture in the air through its leaves, helping to banish mould.
Homebase is selling these plants for £5.50.
Snake plants can also work well.
Repaint with care
When redecorating, it’s worth applying a mould-inhibiting primer, followed by an extra-durable topcoat paint with the same anti-mould qualities.
You need to ensure both are designed to suppress the growth of mould.
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Anti-mould paint needs to be your topcoat, as you will end up painting over the protective barrier.
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