Mold and IDealing with mold at home or at work
The season of hot and hotter with a splash of humidity is here. Days are warmer wetter and a little bit longer. It is time to start to avoiding mold and fungus growth in homes and offices.
What do we do when we have mold and how can we avoid it?
There are some simple tricks that will keep mold at bay if not eradicate it totally. Mold is a tough organism living in Hong Kong and it will continue to live here irrespective of the people living here. We need to understand this when we are planning to remove it from our walls and homes or work with solutions that will prevent it.
Here are some simple dos and don’ts.
Let’s start with the don’ts. Cleaning with bleach is surprisingly ineffective. It will remove what is there but it won’t stop it from returning, rather the opposite. The mold will be happy to return to the cleaned space quite quickly. Given the right setting they can be back well within the same mold season.
Be very skeptical and probably do not trust the tins of paint that states that they will remove and repel mold indefinitely. It does not work that way. There is currently little to no regulation in place that is dictating what you can and cannot promise on a tin of paint and there is no requirement to prove it here in Hong Kong. Therefore, a manufacturer can say whatever they want without any risk of having to actually prove their statements. If you still prefer to trust what it says on the tin at least ask for some form of proof or warranty. I would be, very pleasantly, surprised if you get something useful as proof or that there is a warranty. At best there have been experiments in lab conditions which likely do not reflect real worlds settings. This type of testing would not constitute a confirmation that it works rather it’s just an tool for marketing.
During the wet season, avoid keeping windows and doors open for extended periods. The humidity will get in and with that you often get mold.
Finally avoid using chemicals that are harmful, like formaldehyde. While they will remove and kill mold and other unwanted guests the chemical is not making any difference on who it will affect. It will treat everyone it gets in contact with the same. It is designed for that.
So, what can be done to remove and keep mold at bay in a home or an office? The dos!
Make sure that you have a dry space. That is not only dry in the living space also in the walls and small cavities and cracks, you often find this around air conditioning units, windows or doors.
Keep the space constantly dry, dehumidified spaces are very unlikely to have or get any mold. Keeping the space dry and at a comfortable temperature constantly will have a very small effect on your electricity bill if any at all. A space that is steadily and constantly dehumidified does not need that much energy to keep constant compared with a space that needs to be re-dried and re-cooled regularly.
Use a good paint when you update your place. Trying to save smaller amounts at the time of updating will simply cost you more in the long run and you will most likely get mold.
I made a test two years ago. I painted a “perfectly” white wall with eicó Alterior matt and left some areas with the original paint (a very commonly used product here in Hong Kong). When it was done you could not really see any difference. Two years later this is what it looks like. You can easily see where I painted and where the conventional paint remained, and we can even make out a little patch of eicó paint which was just one stroke of a roller and is surrounded by the densest mold area. The eicó paint has remained seemingly unblemished. The higher quality paint has, in fact, remained mold free, while conventional paint with lower durability and less abrasion resistance, and a whole host of other factors, has allowed the mold to grow quickly.
The biggest challenge areas are those which we can not dry out, open staircases, patios and balconies for example. There I can only stress the value of using a good paint product applied properly with all the preparation work done. You might still get some new mold but since you done it properly it is a simple wash rather than having to repaint again.
Enjoy a mold free summer.