Mold in Basements

Because they are dark and humid and generally not well ventilated, basements are common breeding grounds for mold.  Additionally, as basements are commonly used for storage and basements are not cleaned regularly as is the rest of the home, mold finds plenty of material on which to feed, such as paper, cardboard, fabric, wood, drywall, insulation, and dirt.  Mold not only causes property damage, it is also an allergen that can cause allergic symptoms and headaches, even when it is not one of the toxic varieties heard about in the news.  To protect items stored in the basement from the likelihood of mold damage, utilize air tight plastic storage containers and keep boxes off the floor and away from walls.

The humidity in basements provides the perfect source of water for mold.  This humidity can be the result of condensation from pipes, as well as from moisture entering via the walls from their contact with the outside ground, and from more serious events such as cracks and leaks in the foundation, or flooding. All foundation cracks should be properly sealed to avoid the seepage of moisture.

Flooding is a significant problem for some basements, and one of the toxic black molds (Stachybotrys chartarum) is relatively common after flooding.  Do-it-yourself measures will likely come up deficient after flooding and it is wise to call a professional water damage or mold remediation company to perform the clean up and prevent the development of mold. However, there are steps that a homeowner can take after a flood.  After removing all standing water, the basement must be emptied of all wet materials, including any wet sections of drywall and insulation.  Then any and all types of heat and ventilation available should be used to dry the basement.

Don’t forget that water evaporates as surfaces dry.  Unless that water vapor is somehow removed from the basement, mold can still continue to grow because of that humidity.  Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can remove a significant amount of humidity from a basement.

Of course, flooding isn’t required in order for mold to grow in a basement.  As previously stated, high humidity alone is sufficient to start mold growing.  Monitor your basement for musty odors or sign of mold growing on items located there. Check walls, ductwork, boxes, joists, and pipes for signs of mold.

If large areas of mold are discovered, it is certainly best to call a professional mold remediation company to eliminate it.

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