Mould experts have warned of the health risks caused by ignoring growing damp around your home.

John Davis started Emerald Damp Specialists with his partner eight years ago and has seen so much demand from tenants and homeowners since then that the business has grown to employ 13 people altogether.

His team helped pensioner Pat after her Stratton bungalow became dangerously damp and riddled with black mould that weakened the floorboards and made the air hard to breathe.

She hesitated to tell anyone about the issue due to embarrassment, but John and his team say that several other residents in the borough who are struggling with similarly hazardous living conditions may also be too hesitant to speak out.

He said: “If Pat had spoken to someone earlier, it could have been avoided. Don’t be shy, don’t shut a room off and forget about it.

“Ever since the media covered her story, our phone has gone mad with calls from all over – Swindon, Kent, Camden, Manchester, Marlborough – which shows how big the problem is and that not enough is being done to tackle it.

“I’ve been to jobs where the landlord had to put a family into a hotel because the mould was so bad, and sometimes you fall through the floor because it’s so damp.

“Some people are living in slums because their landlords are not checking their properties every six months and they ignore the situation or kick tenants out or paint over the problem rather than fix it.

“People started noticing damp more during Covid because they were at home every day looking at it.

“Education is key to stopping this problem. Ventilation is important, and knowing the causes of damp – cooking, drying clothes indoors, bathing, even sleeping.”

The specialists suggested ways to minimise the risk of developing damp and how to spot early signs.

Swindon Advertiser: Mould in Pat's Swindon bungalow - the company that helped remove it says others may be living in similar situationsMould in Pat's Swindon bungalow - the company that helped remove it says others may be living in similar situations (Image: Newsquest)

Brendan O’Neill added: “If the building is cold and someone is sleeping against a wall, the hot air from their breath connects with the wall and creates conditions for mould.

“When showering or bathing, always open the windows, close the bathroom door and put a fan on.

“If there’s warm air inside and cold air outside, that adds condensation and pints of water to a house every week.

“Look out for salt markings on the walls and window condensation from the inside.

“We come across a lot of hoarders – if you moved all that stuff out, the place would be bone dry but keeping it there allows mould to grow and creates spores.

“People use the wrong products – some of which actually encourage more damp - or can’t afford the right ones. Ours work.

“Some people will call as soon as they see even a speck of damp and others will learn to live with it until it affects their health or when black mould appears on the walls and ceilings.

“They worry that the mould spreading is a reflection on them – it’s not, and we’re not here to judge.”

Swindon Advertiser: Damp left untreated can rot floorboards and fill the air with toxic sporesDamp left untreated can rot floorboards and fill the air with toxic spores (Image: Newsquest)

The business can give advice to concerned residents through free consultations over the phone.

Earlier this month, staff attended a special breakfast at the Village Hotel which was offered to everyone who helped to fix Pat's home.

Terry Mason added: "The scale of the problem is massive. You would be surprised by how bad property can get so quickly - and the longer you leave it, the worse it gets.

“There’s a lack of insultation in a lot of homes, which can cause big problems. The home picks up moisture, and any humidity or condensation makes things worse."