Big damp: keeping homes dry and safe

Mould produces allergens and irritants. Inhaling or touching it may therefore cause allergic reaction, such as sneezing, runny nose, asthma attacks, red eyes and rashes.

Constant wheezing and cough complaints in your family? Skin rashes, asthma and bronchitis are common problems among children and adults alike in this country. However, it’s time you stopped blaming pollution and weather for all your issues. The real culprit could be leakage and dampness inside your own home.

A delay in repairing that small leak in your overhead tank or those in your old bathroom pipes could be causing a variety of health problems in your family. Exposure to damp and mould occurring due to water leakage is known to cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, eye irritation, even skin rashes. Over time, mould can even cause severe chronic problems like asthma and lung illnesses.  

Health risks

India has about 10% of the global asthma burden of between 100 million and 150 million people. Research now suggests that there is sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mould and dampness on walls with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough and wheeze in healthy people.

It can worsen asthma symptoms in people already suffering from the condition. There is also a possibility that mould exposure can result in respiratory illnesses or shortness of breath in otherwise healthy children.

Mould produces allergens and irritants. Inhaling or touching it may therefore cause allergic reaction, such as sneezing, runny nose, asthma attacks, red eyes and rashes.

This is why it is very crucial to watch out for signs of dampness or leakage in your house and get it corrected before your family’s health gets affected. Mould can grow in bathrooms, damp patches on walls, ceiling corners and tiles, kitchen cabinets with leakage around it, wallpaper with a water leak on the wall behind and so on.

It is of utmost importance to waterproof five surfaces of water ingress which are below ground — wet areas, roof, concrete water tanks and external walls — for a completely waterproof, leakfree and healthy house.

Wall dampness

However, cleaning up or wiping damp patches on the walls is not the answer. Caused by excess moisture, mould will keep recurring till you correct the source of the dampness. The common places for mould to grow in houses are wallpaper, flooring, behind wall tiles and on window frames.

Mould is usually noticeable and can be white, black, yellow, blue or green in colour. It can also have a velvety, fuzzy or rough appearance, and usually has a musty or stale smell.

Moisture in buildings is caused mainly due to leaking pipes, rising damp in basements or ground floor, ageing structures, or seepage due to damaged roofs, window frames and terrace. In a newly constructed building, dampness may occur because the water used in construction may not have properly dried out.

Damage caused by dampness in internal walls and ceilings are not only harmful to the structures but also to the health of people residing in them. To fix the issue of dampness in internal walls, we require a complete waterproofing solution that not only resolves the problem but also helps homeowners maintain a beautiful and healthy home by preventing any further damage.

If mould is growing in your home, you need to clean it up and fix the moisture problem. Here’s how:

• Keep humidity levels in your home low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help to do this. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day and so this needs to be tracked.

• Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom.

• Make sure you don’t dry clothes inside the house. This will cause mould to worsen.

• Fix any leaks inside the bathroom. Sometimes gaps between bathroom tiles can cause water to leak and cause dampness. Treat tiles with a good solution to close gaps and prevent leakage.  

• Add mould inhibitors to paints before painting and use mould-killing products in bathrooms.

• Remove or replace carpets and upholstery from damp rooms because that can spread the moisture.

(The writer is Global CEO, Construction Chemicals, Pidilite Industries Ltd)

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Big damp: keeping homes dry and safe

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