What To Do if My Student Accommodation has Black Mould?
14 September 2023
Every year all the students who worked hard enough to get into their chosen universities and are lucky enough to get student housing find themselves away from home, often for the first time, and responsible for the new accommodation that they are living in.
This can be an enlightening experience, as many find themselves learning all kinds of different things about maintaining a property.
So, this article has been written to hopefully help new students moving into their student accommodation for the first time, who might be struggling with a newly discovered black mould problem.
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Why Does My Student Accommodation Have Black Mould Problems?
First off, we need to say that whilst student housing is a term that can cover plenty of different types of properties, this article is primarily looking at the type of student housing you might be placed in during your first year, provided by the university.
Usually this type of housing allows for a private bedroom with an included en-suite, opening onto a shared kitchen – or some variation of this. If you are living in private rented accommodation, usually found during your second or third year then we also have helpful content on how to approach damp and other property care issues with you in mind.
Back to the student accommodation in question.
As previously described, this type of student accommodation is usually modular, and purpose built – and for the purposes of housing you during your first year they are incredibly effective. However, one problem you might find during your time in this student accommodation is that black mould builds up easily during your time living in.
If you are wondering why, then the simple answer is condensation.
Condensation building up in these smaller student housing type rooms is a major contributing factor to the spread of black mould, as the condensation provides the perfect environment on which the black mould fungal spores (because that’s what the mould is, a fungus) can land, and then grow.
So, in order to remove the black mould you first have to understand why your student accommodation is generating so much condensation, and tackle that – otherwise the black mould is just going to come back time and again.
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Why is my Student Housing Damp?
In the kind of student housing we have already described, the most common reason that damp is present is due to condensation.
Condensation is the process of warm, moist air being created, which when in contact with a cooler surface (most noticeable on windows or metallic surfaces) condenses, reverting from a gas to a liquid.
This liquid sits on whatever surface it has come into contact with, often soaking in if the warm air is unable to ventilate properly. This might sound like a small problem, but over time repeated instances of condensation being created can lead to serious and lasting damp problems.
It’s made in all kinds of different ways, but it would be safe to say that just day to day living can generate plenty of humid air that turns into condensation. Showers create steam, cooking can cause steam, drying clothes can create humid air, even having a party or working out can increase the amount of moisture in the air, which will turn to condensation.
So, how can you tackle condensation, and why is it so bad in student housing?
The simple answer is a lack of ventilation.
Ventilation is the best way to control condensation in any property, but this might be more difficult in student housing than other properties. That’s because often ventilation might be more difficult to achieve thanks to the way the student housing is constructed.
Take a standard, single bedroom with en-suite that you might find in any student housing. This is typically a smaller room, often in a multi story building with one window that might not open entirely, and a bathroom that features an extractor fan but otherwise has no ventilation option.
Obviously, if you are spending a significant amount of time in that room then the amount of condensation being created is just going to increase, and with nowhere to go the condensation is going to keep building up in the same areas, leading to damp setting in.
Now, there are other reasons for damp being present in a property, and we aren’t ruling them out (you can read about penetrating damp and rising damp on our dedicated pages), though in many cases in student flats, condensation is the primary cause.
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How To Control Condensation in Student Housing
As we mentioned previously, ventilation is key when it comes to controlling condensation, even in student housing.
Now, ventilation options may be more limited when you are living in student housing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do.
First off, you can take a look at the way in which you carry out day to day activities. Even simple things like sticking a lid on a pot when you are cooking, having a cooler or shorter shower, or making sure your washing is dried in a machine or in open air are all great starts to improving the level of condensation in your student housing.
You will then have to look into how you can properly improve your ventilation. Obviously, you can open your windows and improve airflow that way, but you might need to go further. If, for example, following a shower you were to open your bedroom door and also open the communal kitchen’s windows, you might create a strong enough air current that the humid air created from your shower ventilates more easily.
This might mean you have to take an earlier shower before your lectures just to keep your door open before you have to leave, but it could well be beneficial in the long run. You can also leave the extractor fan running for longer amounts of time following your time in the bathroom, in the hopes that it might suck out more of the created hot, humid air.
Then there are other, mechanical options to consider. A dehumidifier might go some of the way towards reducing the level of condensation in your student housing, but it might not be enough. You can look into combining the dehumidifier with a fan and an open window, to create a small draft through to help the humid air escape.
Essentially, there are steps you can take, but you may be limited in your abilities to reduce and eliminate the condensation being created.
That doesn’t mean you can’t clean the black mould out of your flat though.
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How To Clean Black Mould from Student Accommodation
So, once you have done your best to remove the cause of condensation from your student accommodation, you will want to clean away the black mould. Why? Because black mould isn’t just an eyesore – its also a health hazard, and if left to spread it can easily cause asthma issues and other respiratory problems that are best avoided.
So, how should you clean black mould?
Black mould is best approached with a mould eradication kit. These kits are set up to give you the best chance of not only eliminating the fruiting body that releases the black mould spores allowing the mould to spread, but to safely and cleanly remove the mould patches from your walls without causing any unnecessary damage.
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First off, liberally spray the effected patch of mould with the mould treatment spray. Ensure that your windows are open at this point, or your door, and that the room is ventilated enough to allow for the spray. Then, you want to leave the spray to soak in for about thirty minutes.
Once thirty minutes have passed, its time to scrub the sprayed area, which will clean away the collected black mould. You can read more about how black mould might effect different surfaces here, but if you are looking to just clean the walls of your student accommodation then this method will be effective.
Remember, unless you manage to completely eliminate the source of the condensation, the black mould will return. However, if you are more conscious of the condensation you are creating, the mould will come back slower, and if you are equipped with a mould eradication kit, then it will be much easier to clean away.