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UNDERSTAND MOULD & VENTILATION

Mould and the modern home. This is not a scientific biology paper so we will confine ourselves to a fairly simplistic everyday view of the mould “problem”. Mould spoors (or seeds if you like) are very small, travel around on air currents, exist just about everywhere and can lay dormant for a long time waiting for the right conditions to grow and multiply. These conditions, unfortunately, are quite similar to 3 comfort conditions for humans, a little moisture, a little warmth and no drafts. In our homes we cannot eliminate these conditions, and stay comfortable, but we can do something about the interaction between them and take steps to reduce one or more. Moisture is probably the best place to start. Breathing, bathing, cooking and other activities add to the water vapour in the indoor air. If this warm moist air contacts a cold surface,reducing the temperature, condensation will result. This satisfies the moisture requirment. This water is inside our home so most likely it’s in a reasonably warm temperature. Condition 2,warmth, has been met. This often happens in a sheltered area such as behind drapes, behind furniture or in a closet where air movement, or ventilation, cannot help to avoid growth conditions. Once all 3 conditions have been met mould will take hold and grow. The best strategy to build into all homes is one of achievable reduction at reasonable cost not elimination at any cost. All inside surfaces are kept warmer by additional insulation, special spacers and gas filler in sealed glazing units. A carefully sealed, continuous vapour diffusion retarder (vapour barrier) should be employed to keep the water vapour away from any potential cold surfaces, often deep within the wall system. A constant stream of fresh air is circulated slowly in the home with the homeowner option of increasing flows when activities require more. As a result of this simple strategy builders can greatly reduce the opportunity for mould to grow, one step towards a healthier indoor environment. To eliminate mould spoors from a home would require a more aggressive strategy involving high efficiency filters and much more expense. This would be employed by anyone with serious allergies or very low tolerances. Consumers with these requirements should discuss their needs with a competent builder or designer. Do not leave it to chance.