One of the most dreaded issues a homeowner can face is the growth of mold in the basement. What mold problem signs do you need to look for?
Mold Growth Problem Signs – Why You Need Basement Waterproofing Solutions
Waterproofing your basement is about more than just keeping it dry. Flooded basements often run the risk of mold, mildew, or even harmful fungi growing in dark corners. Mold can especially pose a severe health hazard for humans.
Knowing how to identify problem signs before mold can grow can help prevent that growth immensely. How can you identify problem signs of mold growth in your basement? What can you do to avoid it in the first place?
What to Look out For
Finding out your basement has mold in it can certainly turn your stomach. Luckily, there are measures you can take to prevent this growth in the first place. Identifying problem signs as they arise is a good start. What sorts of problem signs of mold growth do you need to watch out for?
- Leaks and Cracks
Any leaks or cracks that run along your basement’s walls or floors are clear problem signs. They allow water to trickle through down and flood your basement.
Constant flooding is taxing to deal with, but it is not the only reason you should waterproof your basement. Both the pooled moisture from a drained flood and a humid climate encourages mold to grow. Mold has a particular advantage in basements due to the lack of direct sunlight exposure throughout.
Moisture can also settle within the cracks along your basement’s walls or the floor itself. In the winter, this can cause the trapped moisture to freeze. This will only expand these cracks further and allow more water to seep in. Rapid condensation of this water come spring will also invite mold growth into your home.
- Black Fuzzy Patches
It is challenging to catch mold growth the moment it takes root in your home. Most mold growth begins in darker, damp areas in the basement where many humans do not typically go to. Mold can also be found:
- Behind wallpaper, paneling, or drywall
- In vents or around pipes
- Within HVAC systems
- Underneath carpeting
- In hard-to-reach areas (basement ceilings, crawl spaces, etc.)
- On furniture, old clothing, or old cardboard storage boxes
Typically, you may not even notice a mold problem until it grows out of hand. Severe mold growth is characterized by large black fuzzy spots dotted across your walls, floor, rafters, or on your organic belongings. A single mold spot can be made of millions of spores alone. This means you have countless spores spreading all across your basement, making it a hazard.
- Musty Smell
You can easily recognize a mold problem without finding the exact location of the growth. If you notice a stale, musty odor that you only seem to notice within your basement, you likely have a mold problem.
This musty smell stems from the humidity breeding mold growth on organic material. Organic material is anything made from a recently living organism. Examples of items made from organic materials include:
- Paper (including books and wallpaper)
- Ceiling tiles
- Wood (found in floor joists, basement foundations, personal belongings, etc.)
- Fabric (specifically fabrics made from natural material like cotton, silk, etc.)
It may help to clean, clear away, or throw out any items in your basement that have molded. However, you cannot remove everything made of organic material out of your basement. The wallpaper, insulation, and wooden beams, for instance, cannot be moved or thrown away.
Still, there are steps you can take to clean out your basement and equip it with helpful waterproofing solutions to keep it dry. We’ll outline these in the next section.
How to Prevent Mold Growth and Clean Your Basement
Dry out the Basement
Before you can sanitize your basement, you need to remove all excess water from it. Make sure you wear protective gear and do not start sanitizing the basement until it is completely dry.
Drying out your basement is an important step because it can prevent mold from setting in. Use materials like vacuums, towels, drains, and fans to help dry out any water. You can also use a dehumidifier to speed up the process.
Prepare for Cleaning
If you enter your basement through your home, cover the door with a plastic sheet so that all those odors don’t spread through the house. Put your cleaning supplies near your door so you can easily access them. While opening the basement windows might improve ventilation, do not do it if it is humid outside. Before you start cleaning make sure you have enough chlorine bleach, mops, scrubbing brushes, and buckets.
Sanitize the Basement
Mix bleach with water and wipe down all unfinished walls and concrete floors. Leave all surfaces wet, and wait for them to dry. Afterward, repeat the process.
If mold is found, call a mold remediation company.
While scrubbing concrete surfaces with metal brushes or steel wool might sound like a good idea, it can only damage the concrete and widen already existing pores. As a result, the concrete will become even more porous.
Make sure you wear protective gear at all times. When you are done with cleaning, throw away your protective clothing.
Prevent Flooding and Moisture Issues
Cleaning the basement after a flood or mold infestation is no one’s favorite activity. Luckily, there are some ways you can avoid this problem. With state-of-the-art waterproofing solutions, you can keep your basement dry and moisture-free. When your basement is no longer humid, mold won’t appear in it. Let’s take a look at these waterproofing methods.
- Install an interior drainage system: after rain or humid weather, water tends to seep through basement walls and slowly fill your basement with standing water. Before you know it, the area will be full of mold due to rising indoor humidity and water. An interior drainage system can be installed along the basement walls to prevent this from happening. This system will collect excess water and direct it toward the sump pit.
- Install a sump pump system: a sump pit in your basement floor collects water that accumulates underneath your home, and the sump pump removes this water by directing it through discharge drains away from your home. This way you won’t have to worry about flooding during or after heavy storms.
- Maintain your gutters: during heavy rains, large volumes of water end up on your roof. If you don’t have gutters, all the water falls to the ground and saturates the soil around your home’s perimeter. Unfortunately, the same thing happens with clogged or cracked gutters. Water will seep into the soil next to basement walls and eventually leak into your basement. This is why maintaining gutters properly and regularly is essential.
If you want to ensure that your basement remains dry and mold-free, contact Groundworks, ask about our waterproofing measures, and schedule a free inspection.
Common Causes of Mold Growth in the Basement
Being able to spot problem signs is all well and good. However, these signs imply that the mold has already infiltrated your home and it is too late to prevent it. Knowing what can cause mold growth is key to preventing it in the first place. So what causes mold to grow in the basement?
- Moisture and Humidity
Because basements are built to retain warmth, they may also become quite humid as well. Mold thrives in humid climates. It typically requires the air’s humidity to be in at least 60 percent capacity to grow.
The relative humidity level measures how much moisture is currently in the air against how much moisture the air is capable of holding. For instance, a relative humidity level of 50 percent indicates that the air contains half of the moisture the air could hold overall.
It is vital to keep percentages in mind. Relative humidity can reach 100 percent and beyond. Beyond 100 percent typically means the moisture in the air spills over. This creates condensation the mold will readily latch onto.
Unfortunately, mold is a hardy organism. You may find that your basement is suffering from a mold problem in climates with relatively low humidity as well. Keep the air in your basement as dry as possible to prevent this.
Mold Growth FAQs
You may have heard before that mold is dangerous. Truthfully, mold absolutely can be a severe problem, but it might not be for the reasons you’re thinking. If you have mold in your basement or crawl space, you might end up with a variety of problems. That can include these concerns.
- Health Risks
The health risks of mold are probably what you think of first and foremost when considering mold issues. Mold can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, wheezing, burning or itchy eyes, skin rash, fever, and shortness of breath. Homeowners who are immunocompromised, asthmatic, or suffer from chronic lung disease are the most vulnerable to mold growth, but anyone can have a severe reaction.
Most types of mold, including so-called “toxic mold,” aren’t going to kill you. They may, however, create a more severe reaction that can be extremely uncomfortable to live in. If you want to be safe, you need to clear out the mold early on. Your home should be comfortable, not just non-toxic, which is why it’s essential to get rid of all types of mold.
- Structural Problems
You can also see structural problems with your home because of mold. Mold eats organic materials, which means that as the mold grows in your basement or crawl space, it’s going to start eating away at it. This can lead to serious structural concerns overall.
This problem can mimic the symptoms of wood rot. When they encounter issues with bouncy floors, for example, most homeowners will immediately worry about wood rot. However, in some situations, problems with mold and mildew can cause these bouncy floors. Regardless of the reason, you need to fix these problems early on.
Clearing out mold is a complicated process, but it’s something that you should do. However, the struggle comes from whether you should clear it out yourself or talk to an expert. Here’s what you should know about the process of cleaning out mold in your basement or crawl space.
- Cleaning Your Basement or Crawl Space
You need to clean your basement or crawl space the moment you see any mold patches. However, completely ridding the area of mold requires more than splashing the infested areas with bleach. There will be spots that you can’t use bleach on, such as your insulation or inside your foundation. Many homeowners don’t know about these limitations and could cause severe damage.
There are a variety of elements to cleaning the basement or crawl space. Doing it improperly could damage your basement or crawl space. That means it might be best to talk to a basement expert beforehand. A professional can help you understand the best way to clean the basement and even suggest ways to prevent further infestations in the future.
- Avoiding Issues with Mold Growth
Bleach is a good solution, but it should not be your only go-to. Rather, bleaching the mold is only the first step in keeping your basement mold-free. You also need to reduce the humidity in the space to avoid future growth. Otherwise, you may kill off this first generation, only to find more coming back throughout the following months.
Fixing mold problems is not easy. You’re going to have to take several steps to avoid mold problems for good. However, you can rest assured that mold won’t get in your basement or crawl space and start to grow when you do this. The peace of mind you’ll experience will more than make up for the investment.
Because mold requires spores to start growing, it needs to come from somewhere. You might wonder how mold even gets into your home. Knowing a bit more about how mold gets into your home is a useful way of avoiding it.
- Through the Air Outside
Mold spores are small enough to travel through the air. This means anytime you open a door, window, or vent, you can potentially invite mold spores in. Mold spores can also circulate in your HVAC system. Most of the time, air filters can continuously filter these out, but there’s always a chance that a single spore can get past the filter.
In general, there’s no way to altogether avoid mold spores getting inside your home. It’s all about whether you allow those mold spores to grow, which requires that you keep things in your crawl space as healthy as possible.
- Clothing and Other Items
You or a member of your family can also unknowingly carry mold spores on your clothing, shoes, bags, boxes, or other belongings. When you store things in your basement or crawl space, for example, it’s possible that the items you’re storing already have mold spores.
This is another reason that you must maintain an environment where mold and mildew simply won’t grow. Your best bet is not to try and avoid any mold spores coming inside your home in most situations. Instead, make sure that the crawl space and the rest of the home won’t allow for mold spores to grow.
Avoiding mold entirely is typically the end goal for fixing mold problems in a basement or crawl space. Ensuring that you never have mold again is one of the goals of fixing your mold problems. The problem is that many homeowners don’t know how to do this. Here are a few options.
- Waterproof Your Basement or Crawl Space
The best way to permanently block out mold growth is by waterproofing your basement or crawl space. High levels of humidity are the main culprit for basement or crawl space mold. You need to talk to an expert about avoiding water in your under-home area. Regardless of how you choose to do it, waterproofing is a must.
It’s also essential to avoid humidity. Without humidity, mold does not have the chance to grow. Ridding your basement of all moisture will also likely prevent it from flooding. Keep in mind that not just any dehumidifier will work. Even a high-quality dehumidifier you find at the store will pale compared to ones offered by professional companies.
- Using Professional Tools
Professionals will implement a foolproof encapsulation process that most homeowners do not have the tools for. Buying a dehumidifier or installing a sump pump is only a single part of this lengthy process. You don’t have the tools or the knowledge to install the proper components that will keep your basement or crawl space healthy.
A Groundworks expert will know where exactly to install these things and how to install them, making that the best option for your basement or crawl space mold. Whether you already have mold and mildew in your basement or crawl space, or you’re just hoping to avoid it in the future, schedule an appointment with a Groundworks expert today to learn more about your options.
Get Rid of Mold in the Basement – Permanently
Discovering mold in your basement can be a nasty experience. It can make your basement feel dirty and unclean. Though bleach is quite an effective solution, it cannot keep mold out permanently. It only takes a little moisture and humidity for mold to grow again.
Getting a dehumidifier and fixing up any leaks or cracks in your basement can help. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not have the proper tools to install or patch all these things in their basements.
Hiring an expert to do that for you can take that pressure off you. These experts will know the most optimal place to install your dehumidifier. They will also know the best methods to permanently fix leaks or cracks, waterproofing your basement in the process.