One of the rooms in the house where you’ll most often see mold is the basement.
This page tells you the common causes and the signs of mold in the basement. It also lets you know how to find mold growth in the basement, prevent mold from growing in the basement and where to find information on removing basement mold.
Causes of Mold in Basement
There are many sources of moisture found in the basement. And any water problem in the basement usually takes a long time to dry out. This is because the basement gets no sunlight, very little ventilation and is often humid.
To make matters worse, once mold has begun to grow in the basement it will probably go unnoticed for a long time since people don’t spend much time in their basements. People rarely clean their basements too and the dust and dirt helps mold to grow.
Mold loves to grow on some of the building materials in the basement. Some favorites are drywall, wood and insulation.
Causes of Mold in the Home
Condensation Causes Mold in Basement
High humidity plus the often cold temperatures in the basement produces a lot of condensation. Condensation collects on cold metal pipes, cold concrete basement floors (even if there is carpet over the top) and on walls.
Flooding and Basement Mold
One of the biggest causes of mold in the basement is flooding. If a house is flooded, water runs down to the basement and stays there long after the other rooms have dried.
Dangerous molds like toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) can start to grow after a flood. These molds need materials to be very wet for several days to begin growing.
Preventing Mold After a Flood
After a flood the best thing you can do is contact a mold remediation company or water damage specialist who perform clean ups of homes after floods.
If you have to clean up your home yourself though here are the main points:
Clean and dry your house and everything inside it as soon as possible. Remove whatever standing water inside that you can. You can also use fans, air conditioning, heaters or dehumidifiers to help dry out your home faster.
Remove wet materials from your home straight away. Wet insulation and wet padding on carpet take a very long time to dry out and so you should remove them. Any drywall which got wet also needs to be cut away and removed. You should replace these materials only after your home has completely dried out.
Clean items in your home that got wet using a detergent or cleaning product and then let them dry out. You should generally throw away things that got wet from flood water and which can’t be cleaned and dried. The same goes for items that become moldy and cannot be cleaned. Also clean hard, non-porous surfaces in your home and let them dry out.
Mold from Basement Leaks
Leaking pipes in the basement or in nearby rooms lead to basement mold growth. Water in the ground can also find its way into the basement through cracks in the walls.
Basement Humidity and Mold
Once water in the basement evaporates it raises the humidity level in the basement. The humidity then usually stays high thanks to poor ventilation and no sunlight. Some molds can begin to grow in the basement just from this high level of humidity.
Signs of Mold in Basement
One of the clearest signs that you have mold in your basement is the smell. Because of the stagnant air in the basement, odors build up and become very noticeable. Don’t ignore a musty or moldy smell in the basement as it probably means you have a basement mold problem.
Finding Mold in Basement
When looking for mold in the basement you should begin by trying to find any signs of moisture. Areas where there are signs of water damage or leaks are likely spots for mold growth.
Mold can grow on any objects or building materials made from organic substances. In the basement these surfaces can be found everywhere such as drywall, wooden building frames, carpet, insulation, wallpaper, furniture or cardboard boxes.
If you cannot find mold in your basement but you suspect it is growing somewhere don’t forget that you always have the option of mold testing. Mold testing can be performed by professionals for you or you can do it yourself using mold test kits. Both air and surfaces can be sampled for mold spores during mold testing.
Where Mold Grows in Basement
Some of the most common places where mold grows in the basement are:
- Wall cavities
- Wooden building frames
- Storage boxes
- Ducts and vents
Preventing Basement Mold
To prevent basement mold you must minimize moisture.
Find and fix any water problems in the basement like leaking pipes, condensation or a leaking ceiling. Keep an eye out for any moisture building up in the future too.
Leaking Basement Walls
If there’s water seeping in through the walls you can get your basement professionally waterproofed to fix it. Otherwise you can apply sealant to walls or floors to stop water getting in. Any cracks should be filled up using a water proof filler.
Keeping the humidity in the basement below 55% will ensure that humidity isn’t a cause of new mold growth. Dehumidifiers reduce the humidity inside houses. Circulating the air in the basement also helps.
Cleaning the Basement
Don’t neglect your basement when it comes to cleaning the house. Vacuuming the basement with a HEPA vacuum and cleaning it once a week will help to prevent basement mold.
Water building up in the ground around the basement can cause water problems, especially if the ground is sloped toward the house. Landscaping the ground so it slopes away from your house slightly, or digging drains to channel the water away should solve this problem.
Basement Mold Removal and Remediation
It’s best to hire a professional mold service to remove mold growing in the basement, especially if the area of mold growth is large.