Let’s face it, there is nothing attractive about mould.
By Brian Kingsley – Bye Mould
Most tenants visit multiple properties before they choose the one they’d like to live in – and unsurprisingly, they’re usually quite selective. The presence of mould can make an otherwise stunning property look disgusting. It could also suggest a more serious problem such as structural damage (more on that later).
That aside, mould is potentially dangerous to the respiratory and immune system, causing breathing problems, and even triggering an asthma attack in some cases.
Mould is caused by condensation and excess water on walls, typically due a temperature differential between the inside of a property and the outside. This is usually an issue in the cold winter and autumn months when tenants turn up the heat to make the house warm. Unfortunately, you can’t control what tenants decide to do while living in your property -some like to dry their clothes inside and this can cause excess water on walls.
Dehumidifiers are roughly the size of a standard portable heater and remove water from a room in order to reduce the likelihood of mould.
Here are some more ways a dehumidifier can save you money:
- Getting rid of mould (professionally) can cost a lot of money and eat into your profits
- Even if the mould is removed, it can still return – this is due to the temperature differential issue
- A tenant could sue you for renting out a property that is dangerous to their health
- Long-term mould can cause structural damage to walls and the beams in the roof – this is expensive to fix.
As with most devices, dehumidifiers aren’t created equally. Choosing the right one will save you another trip to the shop. A dehumidifier sucks air and cools it in order to remove moisture. Some dehumidifiers then dump the water into a bucket or internal basin. The ‘dry’ air is then pumped back into the room.
Here are some things you need to consider when selecting a dehumidifier:
- The size of the room you want to dehumidify
- The method of collection. (Will your tenants be happy to empty a dehumidifier, or would you prefer the unit to do that?)
- The energy rating of the dehumidifier. (Older dehumidifiers can be as expensive to run as a portable radiator. Some tenants won’t be happy about an increase in energy consumption.
Some dehumidifiers also come with advanced features which enable you to ‘set and forget’.
- Filter indicator
A dehumidifier needs to be cleaned. This is because it absorbs water and bacteria from the air. The more water in the air, the more often it needs to be cleaned. A filter indicator tells you when it is time to clean the filter. Failing to clean the filter affects the effectiveness of your dehumidifier.
2. Auto humidistat
Ideally, a dehumidifier needs to be adaptable in order to suit changing humidity levels. The auto humidistat feature senses the humidity levels and shuts operation once the humidity level is reached. This saves on energy bills. Dehumidifiers without this feature can take too much moisture from the air, thereby making it feel uncomfortable.
What else can you do to prevent and remove mould?
As previously stated, mould is usually caused by the temperature differential between the inside of the property and the outside. However, mould can also be caused by a leaking pipe or leaking roof. This can cause structural damage to the property. Renovating a roof, for instance, can be a pricey fix.
Poke the areas of mildew with a stick and if some of the concrete or plaster crumbles, it would suggest leaking into the walls. In such a situation, a dehumidifier could reduce the mould and mildew on walls, but the structures of the property could be rotting away.
Mould is a fungus and can spread rapidly. Therefore, a small path of mould inside the wall can spread across a big section over time. Knocking down a wall to build a new one, and change the wires is neither fun nor cheap.
Remove it yourself
In small cases, mould can be removed using 1 part bleach mixed with 4 parts water. Due to the fact that this can be dangerous to your health, wear a mask (to protect your respiratory system), and gloves. This can be bought from any good household shop would sell you one. Don’t mix bleach with ammonia because it produces deadly fumes. Open all the windows in the room and dip a sponge in the bleach solution. Get to work scrubbing the affected area, and dry it off with a disposable towel. After removing the mould, leave the windows open.
When in doubt, ventilate
Good ventilation is a good way to keep mould at bay. The bathroom and kitchen are especially prone to mould. Advise your tenants to crack the window open when cooking or after taking a shower. Ventilation reduces the temperature differential between the inside of the home and the outside. As a result, less condensation builds up on walls and metal. Therefore, the opportunity for mould to develop is markedly reduced.
Use an extra fan
Another way to protect a kitchen from mould is to use an extra fan. This removes the moisture caused by cooking.
Choose a good sealant
Notably, without proper maintenance, a property degrades over time. Cracks in walls and the roof can occur. This can cause water to build-up thereby increasing the likelihood of mould. It is worth investing in a strong sealant to seal the cracks which allow moisture and/or water to get into the property. In extreme cases, this would act as a temporary solution till you acquire the services of a professional.
Mould usually affects properties without human habitation for extended periods of time. It is worth checking up on your locked-up rental properties on a monthly basis. I am yet to meet a tenant (or landlord) who likes mould – it affects health, makes properties look dirty and can affect the structural integrity of your property. A dehumidifier, scheduled mould removal and other everyday practices are a small price to pay for long term prevention.