Since mold spores thrive in damp, dark places, basements usually provide proper breeding conditions for mold to develop and spread. This article further explains why mold grows in basements and how you can deal with mold in your basement.
Causes of Mold Growth in Basements
Here’s why mold typically grows in basements.
When there is too much moisture in the air, it provides the ideal combination of oxygen and moisture for mold growth. Electrical equipment may also produce condensation through a lack of ventilation. The built-up condensation eventually creates an environment of high-enough humidity that encourages mold development.
Water leaks can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Burst pipes or faulty foundations. This is sometimes due to age and lack of maintenance.
- Soil water table rise causes hydrostatic pressure, leading to basement leaks.
- Water heaters may leak from time to time. When the functionality of a whole water heater fails, there might be significant flooding, causing excess dampness in your basement.
Flooding is one of the most common causes of mold development in the basement. Floods create significant amounts of water, resulting in hydrostatic pressure. Leaks, dampness, and subsequent mold growth result as a consequence.
Sump Pump Failure
A sump pump removes water from your basement and moves it away from your structure, keeping the basement relatively dry and free of mold. If this pump is not kept up, it can stop operating properly, leading to standing water build-up and water damage in the basement with an ideal setting for mold colonies to develop.
Even if your basement does not appear to have any of the problems noted above, you should regularly test for excessive mold spores for those that cannot be seen with the naked eye. We never recommend doing this on your own.
Rather, hiring a licensed professional to perform the test is the safest method. They are trained to identify the signs of mold in dangerous quantities. Please note that removing all the spores from any air sample is nearly impossible. Mold occurs in nature, and most samples will contain some mold spores, even after mitigation.
Why Is Mold an Issue?
Mold, mildew, and fungus are problems because they release dangerous mold spores, leading to suboptimal indoor air quality. They reproduce via spores that spread easily from one moist area to another. The spores can stay viable for years until conditions are right to make mold grow again.
Mold can cause several health problems, specifically respiratory problems such as asthma, coughing, and wheezing. Skin and eye irritation, such as a rash or an allergic reaction, nausea, and vomiting are also possible. Some people have a compromised respiratory system and are more sensitive to mold than others and thus may experience more severe allergic reactions.
Are There Ways to Prevent Mold in Basement?
The best medicine for most major problems is to stop them from happening, which applies to finding mold in your basement. So, follow these steps to prevent mold in the basement in the first place.
- Use a negative air pressure machine to filter and clean the air in your house and basement. The machine removes the tainted air from the space using ducting as a filtration method. It also filters out all mold spores that might lead to mold formation in certain circumstances.
- Improve moisture retention with any leaks or cracks in the foundation. Ensure that your sump machine is operational and ready if your foundation is no longer keeping moisture out.
- Install a dehumidifier and a humidity meter in high-moisture areas to keep the humidity levels constant.
- To help prevent the moisture from seeping up into your foundation, use materials like dry gypsum wall and a primer. That way, any rise in surface water resulting from flash floods does not enter your foundations and, as a result, your home.
- You may opt to paint the walls of your house and basement with mold-resistant paint, so buy a mold inhibitor and mix them together.
- Check to see if your gutters are clear, and be sure any water is being discharged far away from your foundation. Also, double-check that the area surrounding your basement slopes away from the footings of your house and not towards it.
DIY Tips to Treat Mold in Basement
We do not recommend treating mold in your basement alone, especially if the affected areas exceed 10 square feet. Removing mold is a potentially hazardous endeavor and a process that should not be performed without proper experience and personal protection.
Licensed PuroClean mitigation specialists use top-of-the-line equipment and techniques to treat a mold infestation. They use PPE (personal protective equipment) to shield themselves from the effects of the basement mold while they clean.
However, if you insist on putting in some elbow grease, the affected area you are dealing with is small enough, AND you have the necessary equipment to do so, you may decide to make an attempt to get rid of mold yourself before the mold spreads to a larger space by carefully following these steps.
- Stop the source of mold. Once you have found the origin of the mold as described above (typically an area of excess moisture), make sure you do something about it; get a professional to repair it or replace it. Don’t put this off any longer, and act quickly.
- Remove the moldy items from the location and thoroughly clean the area. Mix together equal parts white distilled vinegar and baking soda to create a homemade mold remover solution that can stop the source of mold in the basement. (Be careful not to let the initial reaction make a mess!) Use a scrub brush to sweep away any mold on the floor, carpet, walls, or other surface areas. If you’re having trouble with this, call in a professional. Moldy fabric items that have been scoured (but mold did not come off) may be placed in your washing machine if you decide they are too difficult to remove. It’s also sometimes preferable to just replace rather than attempt to repair or remove a moldy item.
- Wipe shelves and surfaces clean. After you’ve cleaned the hard surfaces, be sure to let them dry completely before returning items to them. If there are stains on the walls, you’ll likely need to use a mold-killing primer and paint to get rid of them.
A Professional Mold Removal Service Can Clean Mold Safely and Effectively
If you have medical problems, anything other than a small area of mold, or simply want some help to get it done right the first time, contact a professional. Furthermore, if the mold in the basement is due to contaminated water, is located within your HVAC system, has seeped into your foundation, or keeps reappearing after you clean it, then it is most prudent to call the pros. There’s nothing wrong with hiring an expert to look at the problem and let you know what you are truly dealing with.
PuroClean has earned the reputation as “The Paramedics of Property Damage™.” Call us 24/7 at 1-800-775-7876, or contact your local office if you find mold growing in your basement or on your property. Do not expose yourself to the potential health risks of trying to kill mold alone. Our knowledge, experience, and techniques are proven to eliminate mold outbreaks and safely mitigate the associated risks.