Mould is a type of fungi that feeds on organic matter. Unlike it's relative, the mushroom that produces a fruiting body, mould is a microfungi, generally unseen by the naked eye. It is not until a large number of mould spores has grown to create a colony that we notice and by this time it might be too late. A natural decomposer that thrives in dark, damp, and cellulous-rich environments, there are ways to minimise the destructive impact of mould around our homes.
The unsightly black mass on the eave above, when seen under the microscope, is a vast network of interconnected branches (hyphae) called mycelium. Spores (conidia) located at their tips look like oval balls.
To absorb nutrients, moulds produce and spread enzymes from their hyphal tips that help break down any biodegradable materials including dead insects, plants, cardboard, and leather.
Black (or Toxic) Mould (Stachybotrys chartarum), seen under the microscope in image 3, especially loves cellulose-rich materials such as paper, drywall, timber studs, wallpaper, ceiling panels, carpet, and insulation (when wet).
Spores are contained within a jelly-like membrane, explaining the slimy nature of this mould, until they are released for reproduction. However, conidia will escape early if the mould dries out or is disturbed in its environment e.g. by heavy rain.
North Queensland's tropical climate creates the perfect environment for mould to thrive in. With monsoon type rains, high humidity, and lush plant life, as seen in image 4, all of the conditions needed for active mould growth are present.
"Actively growing mould damages the material it lives on, thereby impairing structural integrity." (www.poison.org)
Your home is your greatest asset. It is likely the greatest financial commitment you will or have ever made. Raising your deposit and the time it took to finally receive loan approval is also likely to have been a long and tough road to tread. Therefore, to preserve your home and/or asset, does it make sense to do everything possible to remove or minimise preventable damage?
Suggested methods to minimise mould growth include:
1. Find the source of excessive moisture and remedy it. For example, repair leaking taps, damp in walls, and damaged guttering. One of our recent housewashes in Annandale involved excessive mould growth under the eaves due to rusted guttering interferring with efficient water flow away from the home. During another Softwash of a Queenslander style home in North Ward, water was found to be entering the home via the main door frame on the upper front verandah. The owners had been wondering why water was affecting a light in one of the lower level rooms when it rained and now they know why.
2. Conduct routine checks to spot mould growth as soon as possible.
3. Clean mould as soon as it is noticed. While the average person is capable of cleaning mould from smaller areas, it is recommended that larger areas require "expertise" (www.poison.org).
A note of caution to the reader regarding the external cleaning of mould - of course pressure cleaning is an option. However, high pressure can also cause damage to some surfaces and materials and this method simply relocates the living fungi, meaning that it will easily reinfest.
Softwashing your home works in a totally different way and prevents immediate mould reinfestation.
The Softwash system uses low water pressure to preserve paint and surfaces. Our Softwash solution contains a fungicide that kills the mould and biodegradable cleansers that remove it and help it to break down.
We respect that mould is very beneficial to the natural environment, as it continually works to provide flora with a nutrient-rich food supply. It's another one of the world's most amazing creations. However, to preserve the integrity (and value) of your home or asset, nature is where we need it to stay. When you're next outside, look around your home, look up, and take note of what is actually going on. You might be surprised.