The Health Risks Of Mold
Along with being pretty unsightly, certain molds can pose major health risks. Some people are sensitive to mold as an allergen, and it can cause anything from eye and throat irritation to asthma or more serious illnesses in those with compromised immune systems.
In fact, indoor mold issues pose such a widespread problem, that the World Health Organization released an extensive report on air quality guidelines concerning mold. In the report, they noted that it doesnt take a flood event to lead to mold in a building or home, but in fact the majority of mold spores come inside via the regular airflow. These spores, when they find a moist spot to multiply, create issues of health-impacting poor air quality in these spaces where we all spend the majority of our time: inside.
Mold Patrol In A Damp Basement
It only takes 24 to 48 hours for mold spores to transition from airborne microorganisms to an unhealthy growth. Once it takes hold in the basement, youre facing a big DIY cleanup project. Stay ahead of potential problems by regularly checking these areas for signs of mold growth:
Behind baseboards and in dark corners Spaces around furnace and clothes dryer vents Flooring under the washing machine or laundry sink Finished walls where pipes might leak Ceiling areas directly under the kitchen and bath
When you discover a suspicious fuzzy patch, test it with several drops of bleach applied with a cotton swab. If the area lightens after a few minutes, its harmless mildew. If it remains dark, youre dealing with mold.
The Most Common Places To Find Basement Mold
8 December 2021
While we wish it wasnt this way, mold can appear in any part of your home. As long as there are suitable conditions for mold growth, location does not matter.
As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture.
This can include a number of things in our homes, such as leaks, windows, pipes, bathrooms and anywhere that has been flooded. If you havent noticed, many of these are often found in our basements.
Lets look into some of the little known facts about mold growth in our homes, and where you can find them in your homes basement.
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What Mold Looks Like
Molds are a type of fungus and can look like their fungal cousins, mushrooms and yeasts. Outdoors, molds can be seen gobbling up the dead organic matter on decomposing surfaces like fallen leaves and rotting logs indoors, house mold thrives in wet, humid environments like bathrooms and basements or anywhere that has recently flooded. There are thousands of types of mold, and their appearance can vary depending on the type of mold and where its growing.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum , is also sometimes found in homes and other buildings. This greenish-black growth can grow on fiberboard, paper, dust, and lint, particularly in areas that may have recently flooded or suffered other types of water damage. While black mold can certainly look scary, the CDC says that Stachybotrys chartarum isnt any more harmful than other types of mold.
Prevent Future Mold Growth
Keep your basement mold-free by installing dehumidifiers and keeping the humidity in your home low.
If your home is prone to basement flooding then you also need to invest in basement waterproofing services to keep the area dry.
If you have any questions about mold and mildew, how to find it, evict it and prevent it dont hesitate to contact the experts at Triad Basement Waterproofing. We have been dealing with basement issues and mold for more than 27 years and we guarantee that we can help you keep your home and basement in tip-top shape year round.
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Why Is Mold Bad
Mold thrives in damp and humid environments and as it grows it release spores into the air, which can make people very sick if inhaled. Toxic mold can irritate your eyes, your respiratory system and cause very unpleasant odors in your basement. Mold exposure can lead to allergic reaction symptoms such as sneezing, running nose, itchy eyes, congestion and even skin irritations. Mold can trigger asthma attacks and cause serious problems for individuals who have weakened immune systems. Mold will also eventually destroy the things it grows on.
How To Remove Mold
- Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
- Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
- Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working. Throw it out when you’re done cleaning, because the spores are almost impossible to clean off. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
- Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mil plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
- To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
- Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
- Keep your wet/dry vacuum outside when you vacuum.
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Clean The Material If It Can Be Cleaned Or Pitch It If It Must Be Pitched
This process differs for various materials . Hereâs a breakdown:
If it is minimally affected and the water source is cut off, a small amount of soap and water may be able to clean the basement mold for good. But if mold is growing behind the wall or the drywall itself is significantly warped, it will probably have to be replaced.
Finished wood is the most likely to survive a mold infestation because mold cannot get through it. A small amount of soap and water can do the trick here as well. Unfinished wood is another story and will likely need to be replaced. This can be pricey if it is from your wood framing, but it will end up causing even pricier damage if left alone.
Run all of the fabrics affected by your basement mold through a cycle in your washing machine. Hopefully any furniture with fabric in your basement has a removable cover so you can easily toss them into the wash as well.
Be sure to thoroughly clean your washing machine after these cycles to avoid passing mold spores along to other fabrics. If you cannot run fabric through the wash, like for example on upholstered couches and chairs, try to get them professionally cleaned. Otherwise, you may be out of luck and need to purchase new furniture.
Try bringing in professional cleaners to deep clean the carpeting as it can harbor mold for very long periods of time. In many cases, mold infested carpeting cannot be saved.
Everyone Knows Mold Is Bad But How Bad Is It
Mold is something you should not mess around with. Many molds cause serious health issues. And even touching it can cause problems for you, your children, and your pets.
You should not touch it, clean it, wipe it off, or brush it off. Mold spores are released, when you disturb it. So dont touch it until you know if it is one of the many really bad molds that can cause problems.
Sadly, humid or wet basements are like heaven to mold. They love it.
So the best way to get rid of mold is to get rid of the moisture that is encouraging it to grow.
What you need to know about mold
Since mold requires moisture to thrive, its obvious that a wet basement is the perfect breeding ground for mold of any kind. Having a wet basement is gambling with mold.
There are over 400,000 different molds that we know of. Most of them love to grow in wet or damp basements. Generally the color of mold is a good identifier. Black mold, brown mold, green mold, red molds are some of the colors to really pay attention to. They are not always a bad mold, but those are the colors of the ones most dangerous to your health.
We have years of experience in dealing with mold issues.
We have certified and licensed teams who can help you remediate mold.
But no competent mold remediation team will address that problem until they know the cause of that mold is resolved. That means removing the moisture source that caused the problem. Thats where basement waterproofing comes in.
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How To Prevent Basement Mold
- Clean often. Make sure any spills of liquid or crumbs of food are taken care of. Mold likes these organic materials.
- If something is damp or wet, make sure it is completely dried before putting it away. This can promote mold growth on the damp or wet item, plus everything it is near.
- Keep clutter to a minimum. Basements are good storage spaces, but maintain organization using shelving units. This will allow airflow and the ability to keep items moisture free.
- If something is leaking or broken, fix it right away. Leaking items can turn into damaged rooms quickly. Mold growth can start in as little as 24-hours if not taken care of right away.
- Keep plumbing systems in proper working order. Make sure these dont get clogged and cause an overflow.
- Use adequate ventilation in rooms with higher humidity. Basements could use a dehumidifier, and kitchens and bathrooms should have ventilation or exhaust fans.
- Keep the dryer vent clean and clear of debris. Laundry rooms can get humid when using the dryer.
- Keep the humidity within your home at a stable level of 40-60 percent.
- Make sure pipes and windows are properly insulated. Condensation from changes in water temp and the weather can leak down and create wet areas for mold to grow.
- If you can help it, dont use carpets in basements. They hold moisture, and we all know that moisture promotes mold.
Were In This Together!
Why Theres Dampness In Basements
You probably dont think of concrete as porous, but moisture migrates from the ground surrounding your basement through its walls. Heavy rains, existing water tables and even morning dew all contribute to the damp. The results are often areas of white, fuzzy efflorescence on exterior and interior surfaces that you might mistake for mold.
If the atmosphere downstairs always seems damp regardless of the weather, the source might be basement condensation. This condition is caused by high humidity levels inside the basement environment, and it causes the same kind of mold problems.
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How To Find Hidden Subfloor Mold
Even if you have access to professional moisture detection meters, subfloor mold can be difficult to discover. Perhaps the easiest means of detecting a subfloor mold problem are seeing discoloration on vinyl flooring, warping or distortion in areas of flooring, or the presence of malodors.
Because many vinyl sheet materials have an organic paper backing, they are subject to mold growth. Mold will not grow on the vinyl, but the paper backing is an organic food source in this case. At times this mold growth causes a discoloration to the vinyls surface that can be seen by the homeowner.
As plywood and OSB wood products absorb moisture, their layers can separate or warp. Although this is not a guarantee that there is mold present, it is an indication of a potential problem area that requires further inspection.
The best way to determine whether a mold problem exists on a subfloor is to remove the finish flooring material. If the finish floor is carpet and pad, it can be easily disengaged and rolled back to expose the subfloor material. When vinyl tiles or vinyl sheeting is the finish flooring, it usually requires cutting a small piece of the vinyl out to see what lies underneath. When the flooring is hardwood or laminate, it may be possible to remove a small area to inspect beneath it, and then the hardwood or laminate can be reinstalled without doing permanent damage to the flooring.
Mold Reactions: Who’s At Risk
For people sensitive to mold, inhaling or touching mold spores can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. People with serious mold allergies may have more severe reactions, including shortness of breath. In people with asthma who are allergic to mold, breathing in spores can also cause asthma attacks.
In addition to people with allergies and asthma, others who may be more sensitive to the effects of mold include:
- Infants and children
- People with chronic lung disease
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Can I Just Get Into The Wall And Use Bleach To Clean It
It may be tempting to get into the wall and spray everything with bleach by yourself. However, if you have never done this before, it is better to call someone licensed to deal with mold. This is especially true if you have never gone into the wall and dont know how to detect how extensive the mold damage is. Leaving the eradication of mold to professionals will save not only your health but also your sanity. A professional team will have all the protective gear, detection tools and methods necessary to get rid of all the mold in your home.
What Mold Smells Like
Mold has a damp, musty scentsimilar to what youd smell after opening an old book. In general, smell is not a good way to determine if there is a mold problem, says Laureen Burton, a staff chemist and toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency . The smell of indoor molds can differ depending on the type of mold, the surface on which its growing, and its source of moisture. Plus, she says, some people dont notice a smell at all.
The mold smell is caused by microbial volatile organic compounds , which are substances that are naturally produced by molds as they grow. The health effects of inhaling mVOCs are largely unknown, says Burton, although exposure to some mVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.
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Mold In The Basement: Identifying And Treating It
Homes that have basements often have mold. Due to basements’ proximity to groundwater, water can wick up through concrete floors and continue wicking up through floor sleepers and wall studs. Homes without a robust water diversion system may accumulate water in the soil that can crack the foundation, which results in water leakage.
Identifying and treating basement mold is a multi-stage process. You must find the mold, then test it to make sure of what you’re dealing with. You’ll remove structural elements to permit access to the mold, as needed, and go through the process of killing the mold. Then you’ll mechanically remove or encapsulate the dead mold spores, depending upon which is best for your situation. Finally, you’ll turn your attention to fixing the problem that allowed the mold to grow in the first place.
Prevent Mold In Basement Areas
Discovering mold in your house is never a fun situation. Learning the causes of mold in basement areas can help you prevent mold damage and eliminate existing mold growth. Do you have questions about mold or want to remove the existing mold? Let us know right away. We offer emergency services and helpful tips make the mold-cleaning process safe and effective.
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How Mold And Mildew Form
Mold and mildew need the right conditions for growth. To begin, they need mold spores as a type of seed. Spores grow with three factors: food , water, and oxygen. Increasing or decreasing any of these factors will cause mold and mildew to grow or die.
Spores land on the surface, germinate, and grow. Mold and mildew may start as early as 24 to 48 hours after the surface has been dampened. Mildew’s white-gray spots spread outward, not upward, remaining on the surface. Mold, though, eats into its basewhich makes it harder to removeand sometimes grows upward.
How To Get Rid Of Mold
If you find mold in your basement it is important to take care of it right away by removing the infection and sanitizing the area. If you find mold on furniture or carpets its safer to completely remove and replace these items instead of trying to save them. There are a number of commercial brand and natural products that can be used to remove mold from hard surfaces.
One of the best ways to get rid of mold in your basement is to tear out the contaminated areas and replace them with fresh materials. If you cant do that then you can just as effectively remove the infection with bleach, borax and vinegar. Bleach reduces the mold count and neutralizes harmful bacteria, but it doesnt completely kill it. Another solution for removal is vinegar or borax.
After you have checked every corner and crevice in your basement for mold and cleaned it all out, then you have to go back and make sure to sanitize each area multiple times until you are satisfied that everything is clean. Once your basement is clean make sure it gets completely dryotherwise you may end up with another mold problem sooner than you expect.
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How To Test For Mold
You probably dont need to do mold testing or buy a mold test kit, especially if the fungus is visible. Because the health effects of mold vary from person to person, the CDC says that if you can see it or smell it, it should be removed, no matter what type of mold is in your home.
While its not possible to completely eliminate mold in your house, you can prevent a build-up by cleaning up any wet or damp spots and fixing any existing water leaks.
Neither the CDC nor the EPA recommends doing routine mold samplingsboth organizations point out that there are no federal limits for mold in buildings, so people cant check their apartment complexs compliance with the law, for example. Plus, the testing can be expensive.