Updated July 2, 2021
For many people, the home is the single most significant financial investment they will ever make. Protecting that investment does mean managing basic upkeep and performing maintenance when and as needed. While many homeowners do well in terms of addressing the more obvious aspects of maintenance, others can be neglected. One of those can be the presence of mould in the home.
In particular, it’s easy to overlook mould that has developed on the windows. Given the fact that not all mould is dark in colour, it’s sometimes overlooked as dust or something else that’s benign and can be dealt with later. The result is that the mould has more time to damage the windows as well as cause other issues for anyone who’s living in the home.
One thing that must be clear: mould in any form and in any amount is not something to take lightly. If there’s any hint of mould found along the windows or any other part of the house, the time to take action is now. Here are some facts that you should know about mould, what to do when you spot it, and how to reduce the risk of it returning any time soon.
Apart from the musty scent that most forms of mould produce, why is it such a bad thing to have in your home? The short answer is that it causes a number of health issues and can also lead to structural damage.
The World Health Organization provides a great deal of information about mould, including some of the more common health risks that mould exposure can trigger.
Here are some examples:
That’s a good overview of the health-related consequences of mould in the home. There are some other issues to consider, including what mould can do to your home’s structure. Damage to wood framing is one of the primary threats that must be address. Mould spores can travel through the home on the soles of shoes, by way of the ventilation, system, and a number of other ways. As it spreads, it can adversely affect the integrity of the wood framework of the home. Over time, the weakening can lead to shifting that’s more than mere settling.
Nothing good comes from the presence of mould in your home. From your health to the structural integrity of the home, it can cost you in more than one way.
If there’s any hint of dampness or moisture around, that’s a place where mould can proliferate in your home. Some of the spots will come to mind easily. Others may not be the first places that you would consider.
The window sills and the glass panes are two examples of places where mould grows and may be overlooked. The primary reason is that people tend to ignore the windows until something’s not quite right with them. Even if you dust the rest of the room, you may not get around to the sills more than once in a great while. In terms of the glass, you may not think to clean it more than once or twice a year.
There are more places where mould can lurk. It can be the damp spot in the basement, or the rafters that are directly underneath a small roof leak. There could be mould in the duct system that carries forced air to all parts of the home. Damp shoes tossed into a closet may set the stage for mould. Any leaks around pipe joints may also lead to this problem.
Essentially, there is no area of the home that is not capable of playing host to mould development. You do eliminate many possibilities with frequent cleanings and drying any spots where dampness is present, but do remember to look in the less obvious locations.
You already know that dampness allows mould to develop. Have you considered how that same dampness makes it possible for the mould to grow and begin to spread to other parts of the home? Consider these ways that the dampness develops, including how they relate to your windows:
Moisture Due to Humidity: during humid times of the year, the air can become moist inside. Your HVAC system will help keep this somewhat under control, but be aware that tiny cracks that allow for air seepage can let humidity in as well as heat. This is one of the primary ways that mould comes about on the window frame and the glass panes.
Contemporary windows certainly offer more protections than the windows of decades past. Vinyl framework coupled with higher quality glass panes are two examples of what makes those windows less likely to contribute to mould issues. Even so, remember that proper cleaning, care, and repair when needed will further reduce the risks.
What sort of measures can you take? Do take a moment and wipe down the window framework, including the sashes and panes, after a storm. While sunlight will help dry out the moisture for the most part, there are still tight spots here and there that will harbour moisture. Drying those spots manually means removing the environment where mould can set up.
Remember that with mould, it only take a little to lead to a major issue. Once mould does get into the home, it can spread more rapidly than many people realize. If you perform due diligence, you can nip the problem in the bud rather than having to face costly and time-consuming treatments later on.
There’s not much you can do about mould until you find it. That means knowing how to recognize that mould is present on your windows. Discoloration is definitely a sign that you have a mould problem.
You may think of mould as being a dark grey or black, but it can come in more hues. The Centres for Disease Control identify many types of mould, including the ones that are more likely to be found in home settings. Cladosporium is a common example. So is Penicillium and Aspergillus. Did you know that Alternaria is among the types of mould that may have more of an olive green or even a brown colour rather than black? Don’t assume that a hue other than black means the problem isn’t mould.
It’s true that discoloration due to mould can happen anywhere on the window frame, sash, or the panes. Even so, pay close attention to the areas where the sashes slide up and down the rails or where they swing away from the framework. You also want to take a closer look at the corners where each pane is held in position. What may look to be an accumulation of dust at first could be mould of a different colour.
Don’t forget to check at the points where the window framing meets the walls. If mould has developed in the wall for any reason, it may begin to seep out around those seams. While mould in a wall will require help from a professional, you can fight back by cleaning around the framing proper.
Taking note of discoloured areas is a great way to detect mould. There are some other strategies that will also help:
Now that you have a more detailed idea of how mould can develop, how easy it is to spread, and what an impact it can have on your physical and emotional health, it’s time to discuss getting rid of any mould that may be present. That includes addressing what to do about any mould you find on the window glass, sash, or frame.
You may be one of the lucky ones who spots the mould early on. That’s good news, since it may not be necessary to call in professionals to manage the mould remediation. You may be able to use simple do-it-yourself methods to eliminate the problem.
If you want to give the DIY approach a try, there are some resources that must be on hand. Here’s a short list of what to collect:
Now, on to the actual plan for cleaning away the mould:
Remember that empty spray bottle? Fill it with water that’s at room temperature. You’ll use it to saturate the area where the mould seems to be present. There’s a method to this apparent madness that you may have overlooked.
Spray the area thoroughly. That may seem odd since you know that mould thrives in moisture. That you’re doing is to wet the mould so that the spores are less likely to spread. Be sure to spray the area around each spot as well.
Allow the water to permeate the discoloured area and then spray on a the cleaning solution you’ve prepared. If you went with a homemade product like one part dishwashing liquid to one part water, spray an even layer. You can use a paper towel or some sort of clean cloth wipe the space, including the areas surrounding the discoloration.
You may have to repeat this twice. That’s because the mould may appear to fade at first and then begin to darken again. Don’t worry about that. A second round will often take care of the problem.
With that second round, be prepared to rub and wipe a little more aggressively. On tough areas, you may even need to dig out a scraper and run it gently over the area before spraying and wiping a third time. Don’t forget to use a fresh cloth with each application. Once done, place all of the used products in the trash, secure the bag tightly, and take it to the bin outside. Any tools you use should be immersed in a mixture of bleach and water to kill any lingering mould spores.
While the area looks clean now, you’re not quite done. Fill your spray bottle with equal amounts of bleach and water. Spray the area liberally and allow it to remain there for a few minutes. This will kill any lingering spores on the surface or that may be lurking in the upper layer of the material. Wipe with a clean cloth and the cleaning part is done.
Use a clean, dry cloth to remove any lingering hints of moisture that may be present. You want the space to be dry to the touch. Since you may treat tight spots, follow this with opening the sash and allowing the sunshine and wind to aid in the drying process. If there’s no wind, aim a fan at the area and turn it on high. You can also use a hand-help hair dryer if there’s one tucked away in the bathroom. The heat from the dryer will also serve as another way to kill any lingering spores.
The process above works well with aluminum and PVC windows. It also works with wooden sashes and frames that are made with treated wood and that have a proper sealant. If your windows are wood and have little to no finish, another approach is called for.
Having the windows sanded may be the only real solution. It gets rid of the layer where the mould has set up. Once that’s done, wipe down the area to get rid of any residue. Apply a small amount of oxalic acid to effectively bleach the spot. Rub it in using an old toothbrush or a cotton swab. Rinse with water and see if the spot darkens again. If so, apply the acid rub again. Rinse a second time and then dry the area.
Make sure the spot is completely dry before you begin to restain the wood. Remember that a coat of varnish or some other sealant will prevent mould from seeping into the wood again.
No matter what someone tells you, there’s no foolproof way to prevent mould in the home, including on the windows. Your goal is to minimize the potential for mould development and be ready to take action if some does show up on the windows. Here are some tips that will help reduce the potential for mould:
Your goal is to do whatever is necessary to prevent mould from developing. Along with reducing the possibility of all sorts of health threats, these methods also help the home to smell fresher.
Mould on the windows is not just unsightly. It poses a real threat to you, your loved ones, and your home. While it may mean making some changes in your usual habits, taking the time to look for and get rid of mould around your windows will help everyone feel better, avoid what could become permanent health problems, and save money in the long run. Get started today and you won’t regret it.
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