The basement is the one place in the home with the highest potential for mold. There are many causes of mold and signs that should be looked for in order to prevent mold growth in one’s basement. Mold is virtually everything as it grows both inside and outside. Growing mold releases spores into the air. The good news is that most mold species are harmless. Only about 6-10% of the population is sensitive to mold allergens. For those people, rashes, runny nose, watery eyes, sinus congestions, coughing and difficulty breathing can occur if they come in contact with the allergen. This makes it important to ensure your home is free of mold.
Causes of Mold
There are many reasons why moisture is found in the basement. Also, any water problem to the basement takes a while to dry out as it gets no ventilation, no sunlight and is oftentimes humid. All of these things contribute to the growth of mold. Once mold has begun to grow, it will probably go unnoticed for a long period of time. Basement often times are more dirty then the rest of the house and the dirt and dust help the mold to grow. Mold loves to grow on insulation, wood and drywall, all things commonly found in a basement.
A lot of condensation is produced in the basement oftentimes on cold metal pipes or on walls.
One of the biggest reasons for mold growth in a basement is flooding. If the house is flooded, water will most likely run into the basement and stay there until the other rooms have dried. Dangerous toxic black mold can start to grow after a flood. These molds remain wet for several days for it to begin growing.
After a flood, it is best to contact a professional who can perform a thorough cleanup of a home. If you have to clean up your own home, clean and dry the house and everything inside as soon as possible. Remove any standing water immediately. Use air conditioner, dehumidifiers or fans to dry out a home faster. All wet materials should be removed from a home immediately including wet padding on carpet and wet insulation. Replace these materials only after the home has been completely dried out.
Leaking pipes in nearby rooms or in the basement itself can lead to mold growth. Water in the ground can also get into the basement through cracks in the walls. This makes the need for a home inspector important for older homes looking for ways to protect from mold growth and when moving into a new home.
When water is found in the basement it will evaporate and raise the humidity level. Humidity stays high in a basement because of no sunlight and poor ventilation. Mold begins to grow from this humidity.
Finding Mold in Your Basement
When looking for mold in a basement, begin by trying to find signs of moisture. Any areas where there are water leaks or damages are likely spots to find mold. Mold typically grows on building materials such as organic substances. These include carpet, wallpaper, furniture, wooden building frames, ceilings, floors, pipes, ducts, vents, insulation and cardboard boxes.
If you suspect that mold is growing somewhere in your basement, consider mold testing. This can be performed by professionals or with a do it yourself test kits. Both surfaces and the air can be sampled for mold spores.
Removing Mold From Your House
After you determine the cause of the mold and have eliminated it entirely. It’s time to protect the rest of the basement. Once the moisture has been stopped, hang sections of sheeting over door openings and/or HVAC vents in order to isolate the infected areas of the place from the rest of the basement. Look for mold on exposed surfaces as well as any crevices or cracks. When you find mold, continue to search farther than just the original spot. Visible mold can turn invisible causing hidden spots of contamination you can’t find. This will only prolong a mold problem in a basement.
Preventing Mold From Growing In Your Basement
The key to mold prevention in the basement is minimizing moisture. Find and fix all water-related problems in the basement such as condensation, leaking ceilings or pipes. Look for water building up on the ground around the basement as this could cause water problems. This is especially true is the ground is sloped toward your home. Landscape the ground so it slopes away from the home or even dig drains in order to channel water away. It is also helpful to install proper insulation in a basement (especially unfinished basements) in order to help control moisture.