There is a risk that indoor environments could develop mould in the colder seasons. Too much moisture in the air can make your home or workplace stuffy and smelly.
Condensation is the main cause of mould.
There’s nothing worse than living or working in an environment with humid walls and a stuffy smell.
Excessive damp is not only unpleasant but also a threat to health. People spending time in damp and mouldy environments are at an increased risk for numerous health problems such as respiratory conditions, asthma or even chest infections.
There are a few simple steps you can use to identify the causes of damp and mould in your work environment.
The following practical tips will help you to tackle excessive moisture problems and prevent mould growth.
Common damp and mould causes in the workplace and how to solve them
1. Wet shoes, coats and umbrellas
Work environments such as open plan offices have a number of employees arriving at the same time every day.
During the cold and rainy months this can mean that a high number of wet shoes and coats enter the building each day. If the office space is not well ventilated or doesn’t have a practical method of drying clothes, then it can lead to condensation on the windows which is one step away from mould.
How to remove damp and mould caused by shoes and coats
It is important that the air has enough space to circulate. Keeping the lobby area well ventilated will allow water vapour to circulate and disperse, rather than collect on windows and walls.
Installing an extractor fan or dehumidifier in this area of the office will remove the humidity from the air thereby preventing mould setting in.
2. Rainwater spilling from a blocked gutter through to the window frames
Sometimes external factors are just as powerful as the internal ones. If the office building is slightly older and not properly insulated against humidity, then rain can be really damaging to the indoor environment.
Ground level workplaces tend to be more affected with damp patches than higher floors.
How to remove damp and mould caused by rain
Having identified the moisture source it is then crucial to take the necessary steps to remove or minimise the damage.
The first step is to provide adequate ventilation in order to dry the air as quickly as possible. It is highly advisable to use dehumidifiers to remove the moisture from the air.
Next it is important to identify whether the affected areas are safe to be managed without professional help.
If the mould is caused by rain or building faults (such as leaking pipes) and the affected area is less than one square metre you can probably manage to clean it yourself.
Remember that mould is a living bacteria and removing it should be done in a safe way to avoid personal exposure to microscopic mould pores. Skin or eye contact with mould can be dangerous to your health. Make sure you use a protective mask and gloves to prevent spreading the mould pores across the entire building.
If the mould is caused by sewage or contaminated water and keeps coming back, then it is advisable to seek the help of a professional, who can undertake a chemical disinfection of the area.
How to avoid condensation in an indoor environment
- Manage the humidity levels of indoor air. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air. Condensation appears when the air cannot hold the level of moisture and droplets of water appear on surfaces and windows.
- Condensation is always worse when it’s cold. Make sure you manage the indoor temperature and avoid humid air coming into contact with cold indoor surfaces.
- Poor air flow is the main contributor to condensation. Make sure you keep rooms well ventilated. Open the windows (yes, even in the winter) to circulate the air or even use an air dehumidifier.
By understanding how condensation and mould appears, you and your coworkers will be able to prevent and manage the damp issues without hiring professional help.
These simple, yet efficient steps will help keep your work environment healthy and safe.