The 411 on Basement Mold
You just noticed mold on your basement walls and ceiling. You don’t know where it came from or how long it’s been there. Should you remove it right away? And what caused it, anyway?
Here, we’ll answer all your burning questions with 5 things you must know about basement mold.
- Mold Is Everywhere
The first concept to understand is that mold is all around you. Mold is a type of fungus that sends its spores traveling through the air, looking for a place to land. Mold spores can get inside through any opening in your home, including your heating and air conditioning system. They can even attach to your clothes.
If mold spores exist in so many places, why doesn’t everyone have mold growing in their home? Well, mold needs moisture to survive. A damp basement is the perfect spot for mold spores to land and grow.
- Mold Can Be Dangerous
The second thing you need to know is that mold doesn’t just look disgusting. It can actually endanger your family’s health. It releases spores into the air that might hurt you when you breathe them in.
Mold doesn’t cause health issues for everyone. However, many people experience problems such as:
- Sore throat
- Itching eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Development of asthma
For those who have asthma, mold may worsen symptoms. And people with lung disease may get infections when they’re near mold.
- There Are Many Mold Types
All mold is the same, right? Not quite. There are several different types of mold you may see growing in your basement. Here are a few examples:
- Aspergillus: This is the type of mold you’re most likely to see growing in your home. There are more than 185 species of aspergillus.
- Stachybotrys: This dangerous, potentially toxic black mold can only grow in very wet areas. You’ll find it on wood, cardboard, and paper.
- Cladosporium: You might see this green or black mold on painted walls or air ducts. It looks like a sprinkling of pepper.
- Mucor: If you see a thick white or gray mold in your air conditioning or ducts, it’s probably mucor.
Mildew is another type of fungus that’s gray or white and is typically easy to eliminate. But remember, any type of mold is potentially dangerous and should be removed.
- You Should Remove Basement Mold Immediately
Even if you rarely enter your basement, you need to eliminate mold in this area as soon as you see it. If the mold problem is widespread or you believe the mold is toxic, call a professional to remove it.
If the mold problem is light enough to fix yourself, wear protective equipment such as gloves and a face mask. Then follow these steps:
- Remove any mold-damaged parts of your basement, such as carpet and dry wall. It’s best to replace them.
- Apply a commercial mold remover to the mold-covered surface. You could remove the mold with bleach, borax, or vinegar. However, these substances don’t completely kill the mold, so you may wish to use a commercial product instead.
- Check every corner and gap for mold growth and apply the mold remover. Sanitize everything several times.
Just because you’ve removed the mold doesn’t mean it won’t come back. That’s where the next step comes in.
- You Need to Prevent Mold
The most important step for getting rid of mold is making sure it never returns. To keep mold away, you have to make sure your basement stays dry. Call a waterproofing professional, who will incorporate one or more of the following solutions:
- Crack injections: If the moisture comes from cracks in the walls, a waterproofing professional can seal the cracks with polyurethane or epoxy material.
- Exterior excavation: For this permanent solution, professionals install drain tiles and pipes around your basement foundation. The drain tiles have holes that allow water to flow through the tiles and into the pipes-not into your basement.
- Interior excavation: Professionals excavate a trench in your basement’s concrete floor. They install drainage tiles or pipes and a sump pump system. The tiles or pipes send the water to the sump pump, which sends the water away from your home.
After a professional waterproofs your home, water should no longer seep in through your walls and floors. But you may still worry about natural humidity. In a humid environment, the air contains a high ratio of water vapor. This creates another perfect condition for mold growth.
To reverse humid conditions, place a dehumidifier in your basement. When air enters the dehumidifier, the machine’s coils cause moisture to separate from the air. With a dehumidifier in place, your basement air will stay dry and mold-free.
Don’t expose your family to harmful mold spores. Remove mold immediately. Then, call a waterproofing professional for solutions that keep mold away.