How to Spot, Prevent and Remove Black Mould in your Air Conditioner

 In Tips

How to Spot, Prevent and Remove Black Mould Before it Becomes a Health Risk

Mould can quickly take over your home anytime of the year, especially during winter, and can begin to pose a serious health risk to you and your family.

That said, stopping it in the early stages with a few simple prevention methods can eliminate the risk of it spreading throughout your home. Providing you know where to look, the common places it can grow and the telltale signs and symptoms.

In this article, we explain everything there is to know about black mould and how to keep your household and family safe and mould-free all year round.

Let’s take a look at what causes mould.

The common causes of mould

Mould can be found just about anywhere in your home that contains excess moisture. Anything from a steaming hot shower that leaves the whole bathroom feeling ‘wet’, to leaking pipes, air conditioning filters, rain seeping in through a damaged roof or around unsealed window frames. 

Moist environments create the perfect breeding ground for tiny mould spores called mycotoxins to eat, grow and form clusters with other spores. If it gets to this stage, you have a real problem at hand. 

It is important to tackle mould issues in your home as soon as possible. It can pose serious health risk to those at home if left untreated, especially those who suffer from asthma, respiratory illnesses, and chronic lung diseases.

Symptoms of mould illness

By the time you start exhibiting the following symptoms, mould may have already begun to take over your home. That said, it is important to note that not everyone will experience any health problems when coming into contact with mould.

Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Running or blocked nose
  • Itchy or irritated eyes and skin
  • Asthma, wheezing and coughing
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Brain fog
  • Hormonal changes
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Inability to focus

How to spot mould before it affects your health

If you’ve never seen what black mould looks like it may not always be easy to recognise. It can often appear as a stain, smudge or a tiny black/green/ white fuzzy patch. In some cases, mould can even appear in other colours, including gray, orange or brown.

Here’s what to look out for if you have a mould problem:

  • High humidity levels: As we close our doors and windows to keep the hot and cool air inside our homes, we reduce the amount of air flow and ventilation and increase the humidity levels. This means excess moisture is trapped in the air with nowhere to go, encouraging the growth of mould, as well as dust mites and other allergens to thrive.
  • Strange, stale odours: If the smell of Monday night’s salmon is still lingering in the air and it’s Thursday morning, you’ve got stale odours, and could be signs of a larger problem at hand. Unpleasant smells that seem to linger more than they should means your home has insufficient ventilation. Lack of ventilation can cause moisture build-up, resulting in mould.
  • Condensation on windows: This is a pretty easy sign to spot. Condensation is a result of high humidity levels and lack of ventilation. 

Places in your home where you may find hidden mould

  • Behind dry walls, wallpaper or panelling. Mould is often found growing around leaking or condensing pipes and drains.
  • Roof materials. Moisture trapped in roof spaces can accumulate, especially if moist air travels into the roof space but has nowhere to escape.
  • Underneath carpets or behind curtains. Excess moisture coming through unsealed windows can build up behind curtains. Condensation from high humidity levels also creates the perfect environment for mould to grow.
  • Dirty, moist air filters inside your air conditioning unit that have not been cleaned for years.
  • Excess moisture in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries. Poor ventilation, condensation and high humidity levels.
  • Damp clothing stored away in wardrobes.

How to prevent mould from growing in your home

  • Make sure all windows are properly sealed.
  • Check your roof to ensure no rain or water is seeping in.
  • Clean up wet areas immediately. Keep floors and walls dry after you take a hot bath or shower.
  • Dry wet clothes preferably outside or in dryer conditions. Moisture from wet clothes can travel in the air and into fabrics, furniture and timber.
  • Use exhaust fans or open windows to help ventilate kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.
  • Monitor your homes humidity levels with a moisture meter, which can be found at any local hardware store such as Bunnings. Optimal humidity levels are between 30 to 60 percent.
  • Indoor plants may help with improving indoor air quality, but moist soil also provides the perfect habitat for mould to grow. Make sure to clean and move your plants regularly to prevent build-up of mould.
  • Look out for any signs of leaking or burst pipes and have them professionally fixed as soon as possible. Not only will this prevent the growth of mould, it will stop it from becoming a larger, more expensive problem.
  • Regularly clean and maintain the air filters in your air conditioning unit. Click here for a Complete Guide on How to Clean Your Air Conditioning Filters.
  • Keep your home well ventilated. Open windows on dry days to allow fresh air to circulate throughout your home, reducing moisture and humidity levels.

How to remove mould

The most asked question when it comes to removing mould is when to call in a professional cleaner.

If you have determined the mould has been caused by condensation and surface area is no larger than 1×1 metre, you can remove it on your own, though we strongly recommend to let professionals handling it. Do not attempt to remove mould if it has been caused by sewage or contaminated water.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • Protective goggles
  • Long rubber gloves (the ones you’d use when cleaning a toilet)
  • Protective mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Black plastic garbage bag
  • Plastic bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • 2 clean, dry cloths

Before you begin, make sure to open up the windows and close any doors to prevent the spores from spreading into other parts of your home:

  • Place all mouldy items including clothes, soft toys and soft furnishings (cushions) into a plastic bag. These items will need to be professionally dry cleaned.
  • Fill up the bucket with some warm water and a splash of dishwashing liquid.
  • Dip one of the dry cloths into the soapy mixture and carefully, gently wipe the affected area to remove the mould. Make sure not to brush it around too much, as this can release the spores into the air.
  • Once the area has been cleaned, use the other dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.
  • When you’ve finished, place both cloths’ into a plastic bag and throw them away.

Air conditioning professionals can clean the mould within your ac unit for you

Book an appointment with our team for an air conditioning service at home or air conditioning maintenance at your commercial premises.

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