The basement is one of the most typical sites where people detect mold, despite the fact that mold may grow anywhere. What is the most common cause of mold? It has a large capacity for accumulating surplus water.
According to IndianapolisRestorationPros mold remediation expert Andrew James, high levels of humidity in the basement are caused by both outside moisture that seeps through the foundation and moisture from the inside. Because of the basement’s high risk of leaks from defective plumbing, James adds that mold can thrive in the area.
We spoke to a number of professionals, who shared their best practices for preventing mold and saving money in the long run.
What Causes Mold to Grow in Basements?
For mold to thrive, it needs a temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a little wetness, some palatable surfaces, and plenty of space, all of which are common in a typical basement.
After a little leak, such as from a water heater or bathroom, rain seeping in via a basement window following an extreme storm, a significant flood incident or an overwatered plant pot, you may experience mold troubles.
What Does Mold Look Like?
Mould is a great ingredient for making delicious cheese, but we don’t want it in our house. In order to find it, you may have to dive deep and get under surfaces. Mold in the home doesn’t always appear to be threatening.
It might be white, green, or even black. Although the term “black mold” conjures up images of horror, it is not the most frequent type of mold discovered in residences. Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria are the four most common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Stachybotrys chartarum is the official name for the mold that causes black mold (or alternately, Stachybotrys atra).
What they all have in common is that they prefer moist cellulose materials, such as paper and paper products, card stock, ceiling tiles, wood and wooden products as well as paint and insulation materials, drywall, carpet and fabric as well as upholstered furniture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Health Risks of Mold
Molds can be unattractive, but they can also be dangerous to your health. People with weaker immune systems may be more vulnerable to mold as an allergen, which can produce symptoms ranging from eye and throat irritation to asthma and even more serious infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced an exhaustive report on mold air quality guidelines because of the prevalent problem. Mold spores can enter a building or a home through normal airflow, according to a paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Whenever these spores find a damp location to grow, they pose a threat to human health because we spend the majority of our time indoors.
How to Get Rid of Mold?
As with most things, the best way to clean up little amounts of mold is with soap and water, or a solution of bleach and water (1 C. bleach to 1 gallon of water).
Professional mold treatment services should be sought if you have substantial water damage or mold development. If the mold is pervasive or covers an area more than 10 square feet, you should contact a specialist, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Mold prevention tips for your basement include:
- Condensation on windows or walls is a telltale sign. You can prevent condensation from accumulating on cold surfaces in your home by installing insulation.
- If you have a water leak, rapidly clean up the water and fully ventilate the area until it is completely dry. Wait to paint or cover wet areas until they are completely dry before continuing.
- Do not leave anything that has been harmed by water in your home following a leak. Has anything sentimental gotten wet? Hire a professional to do the cleaning for you.
- Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can help reduce humidity, but they must be used frequently and the moisture they gather must be emptied. Generally speaking, mold prefers a humidity level of 60 percent or less. To keep checks on the humidity in your home, all you need is a basic hydrometer.
- Inspect your HVAC system’s filters and intake systems for signs of mold growth on a regular basis.
- Install a permanent ventilation system to ensure that all of your rooms, including basement bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other potential breeding grounds for mold, receive adequate airflow.
Dealing with outdoor causes of mold
Since mold is caused by both indoor and outdoor moisture, we’ll apply the same strategy to prevent it. What causes outdoor moisture, and what can you do to keep your basement dry, will be the focus of this section.
The first thing you should know is that rain and floods are major water sources. There is enough information to get you started if you follow the flow path of precipitation or the flood’s access channel.
After rain falls on your roof, pay attention to where the water goes. Rainwater is highly likely to enter into your basement if the ground around your house is at or above the level of your home. Talk to your contractor about sloping the exterior land away from your property or piling soil up against your house.
Without even touching the ground, rain can cause problems. It’s possible that the windows in your house are also causing issues. If you notice any concerns with insulation or buildup in the window wells, you should have your windows inspected right away!
The gutter must also be cleaned to ensure that water can flow freely. Keep all downspouts far from the house if grading isn’t good. As a result, you’ll be able to ensure that rainfall doesn’t end up in your house.
Flooding is another cause of excess moisture, but it is not a common one. It’s nearly difficult to prevent floodwater from entering the basement, but it’s critical to take action immediately to prevent mold from forming.
The best way to dry out your flooded basement is to remove everything (furniture, appliances, rugs, etc.). For as long as necessary, keep it out. Ensure that fresh air is entering into your basement by opening all basement windows (if you have them). In order to speed up the drying process, you can put up specific devices that are designed to absorb moisture from the walls.
Mold normally dries out when the surrounding wetness does. But if the mold is still there, don’t use bleach or any other treatment to clean it. Get a hold of your phone and make a professional mold inspection appointment. In addition, they’ll show you how to keep mold from returning.
DIY tips for preventing mold in the basement
When it comes to mold removal and prevention, the pros at Mold Busters are happy to share what they’ve learned over the course of their career. Tips to keep mold at bay in your basement include the following:
- The basement should be kept dry at all times. Make sure the terrain outside your home slopes away from your property.
- The basement should not be carpeted.
- Reduce the amount of condensation in your basement as much as possible. Insulate cold surfaces, such as basement pipes, to do this. Sealant can be applied around windows to keep them from leaking air. The temperature in your basement can also be raised.
- Your basement should be kept as dry as possible to prevent the growth of mold, which is the primary source of the fungus. Measure the relative humidity in your basement on a regular basis using a hygrometer. In addition, a dehumidifier should be installed in your home to help keep the air dry. Promote air flow in your basement to reduce humidity. Keep the basement windows open and/or open all the doors leading to the basement in order to keep the basement cool.
- It’s also a good idea to run a fan for one to two hours a day in the basement. This helps to circulate the air, removing humid air and replacing it with clean air. Another smart tip is to put an exhaust fan in your basement to help keep the air fresh. It is Mold Busters’ recommendation to use the E-Z Breathe ventilation system, which is the latest technology that has revolutionized the business.
- Having a sump pump and a perimeter drain installed in your basement will help prevent moist floors and stagnant water in the area.
- Never put damp clothes in the basement for drying. Basements should never be used for the installation, operation, or maintenance of any type of item that requires a vent. Instead, send them outside to exhaustion.
- Cracks in the foundation allow water to flow into basements every spring as the snow melts. As quickly as feasible, take care of issues including foundation cracks, pipe leaks, leaking basement walls and sewer backups to prevent water from getting into the basement. Sealants and waterproof coatings can be used to fill in holes in walls and floors. For basement floors, ceramic tile placed with a waterproofing compound is recommended. Hydraulic cement can also be used as tile grout.
- Organize and declutter the basement. Discard any materials in the basement that are damaged or superfluous. Airflow and ventilation are boosted as a result. Maintaining a clean basement is also important. In order to avoid mold, keep the area clean and free of dust. Clean your basement with a HEPA vacuum.
- Wood flooring should not be installed in the basement.
- Basements are a breeding ground for mold, so don’t keep anything made of wood, fabric, paper, or books there. Plastic tubs are a great way to keep these products safe.
- Mold and mildew love plants, so don’t keep any in your basement.
It’s always advisable to obtain a professional inspection if you fear there’s mold in your basement. Canada’s Mold Busters is the best mold removal and inspection firm to call for this. Mold inspections can save you money in the long run by preventing major structural damage and costly repairs down the road.