How To Identify And Treat Mold In Your Basement
- Working Time: 3 – 4 hrs
- Total Time: 3 – 4 days
- Yield: 80 square feet of basement wall
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Estimated Cost: $30 to $60
If any place in the house will grow mold, it’s the basement. Basements collect and trap moisture, and moisture is one factor that leads to mold growth. And because basements have less natural light and airflow than other parts of the home, that mold will not die off on its own.
Some strains of black mold can be a health hazard. Plus, mold can quickly decay organic materials such as wood, leading to structural failure. This means that identifying and treating mold in the basement should be a priority as soon as you believe that you have it.
Ways To Determine If Your Finished Basement Has Mold
A finished basement adds usable space to the home whether it be for recreation, a kids play area, or organized storage. It also can bring an unexpected bonus to potential homebuyers. An unfinished basement is typically easier to detect mold. Finished basements, however, present a greater challenge as mold can be hidden behind your drywall, paneling or other finished surfaces.
Here are a few tips to determine if you have mold without ripping apart your finished basement:
Ready to get started?
Common Types Of House Mold
Wondering what types of mold are the most common in houses and which ones you should be concerned about? Lets discuss a few of the most common types of household mold now.
- Cladosporium Cladosporium is one of the most common household molds. It usually grows in a greenish-brown colony, but can also be nearly black in color. It is rarely harmful unless you have a mold allergy, but may cause minor issues like toenail or fingernail infections.
- Penicillium Penicillium is sometimes called green mold, as it is usually dark green in color. It tends to grow in large, consistent patches on the walls. As the name suggests, penicillin is derived from some kinds of this mold. However, some kinds of penicillium mold may be toxic to humans and animals.
- Aspergillus This type of mold is usually greenish-white in color, and may be more raised with a more cloudy appearance than other types of mold. It is not harmful, unless you have a weakened immune system, in which case it could infect the lungs or sinuses.
- Alternaria Alternaria mold is usually greenish-white, but can also appear in black patches, so its sometimes confused with black mold. Alternaria can be a factor in exacerbating asthma, particularly for those who may have mold allergies.
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A Qualified Environmental Lab Took Samples Of The Mold In My Home And Gave Me The Results Can Cdc Interpret These Results
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the buildings characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
How To Test For Mold
This article was co-authored by Bridgett Price. Bridgett Price is a Cleaning Guru and Co-Owner of Maideasy, a maid service company that services the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. She holds a Master of Management from the University of Phoenix, specializing in digital and traditional marketing.There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 272,554 times.
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments and reproduces by microscopic seeds called spores. Even if you’re healthy, you can suffer from respiratory issues, skin irritation, and headaches if you’re exposed to dangerous forms of mold.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source If you share your home with children, elderly loved ones, or anyone with respiratory problems, they’re at an even greater risk. Therefore, it’s very important to learn how to find, test for, and treat mold. This knowledge could improve your health and even save your life.
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Different Types Of Basement Mold
Though mold growth on your concrete walls causes a variety of harmful symptoms no matter the strain, its important to know what kind of spores are developing in your home. An essential part of mold remediation is identification. If you know what the growth is, you can tailor the solution accordingly.
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.
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Remove Moldy Material If Possible
If the mold has damaged a small area of soft or fibrous material like carpet, ceiling tiles, or wall material thats not load-bearing , you can remove the material yourself and replace it. Just be sure to wear protective eyewear and disposable dust masks, gloves, and possibly protective clothing so you can ensure youre not bringing the mold into your living spaces.
Mold Remediation Safety Precautions
Few molds are more damaging than others. But the CDC declares that all molds need to be eliminated. The region influenced by mold should be isolated from the rest of the design. If possible, use plastic sheeting or shutting doors. The region should be vented to the outside if possible utilizing window fans or opening whatever way to the outside is accessible.
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How Much Does Professional Mold Remediation Cost
If your mold has gotten to the point that you need professional help, you need to brace yourself. This is not a cheap service, even if the area that its affected is pretty small. Most professional mold remediation jobs will cost between $500 to $6,000 or more depending on the size of the area and the depth of the infestation.
Most basement mold remediation services will cost on the higher end of the spectrum. This is primarily because the messes that occur in basements tend to be far larger than what you might see in a bathroom or a kitchen. After all, you tend to notice leaks in those rooms more quickly.
Using A Mold Exposure Test
A mold exposure test is often the best way for you to check for mold on your own. You can pick one up at any home improvement or home supply store.
Simply follow the instructions on the box. Usually, youll just brush the surface where you think mold may be present, and send the test strip or brush in for a laboratory analysis. If mold is present, youll be notified.
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Long Term Moisture And Mold Prevention
Moisture management and temperature control are the two key factors for creating a mold free basement. More specifically, your goal is to create a warm and dry environment free of ground water moisture intrusions and excessive humidity. Though it may seem obvious, identifying the source of the moisture is not always straightforward. Humidity based moisture issues can look very similar to ground water intrusion .
Basement Mold & Moisture Investigative Techniques
Identifying the exact cause of mold and moisture issues in a basement is difficult. Also, the cost of a mistake is quite expensive, its typically best to hire a professional. The following are techniques well use to pinpoint the source of the moisture.
- Vapor emissions testing
- Air sampling for mold to identify if the air quality has been affected
- Exterior drainage investigation
- If present, check the interior footing drain / sump pump
- Moisture testing of carpet, padding, tack strip and sheet rock.
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Obtaining A Sample For An At
Once you have identified the source of mold in your basement, its time to obtain a sample. Keep these steps in mind
- Open your test kit and read all the instructions carefully. Procedures for collecting a sample may vary between manufacturers.
- Correctly seal off all of your samples and label them per your kits instructions.
- Mail off your sample to the lab, where it will undergo testing. Results may take a few days or a few weeks, depending on the lab, manufacturer, and other factors.
Identify Areas Known To Harbor Mold
Knowing the most susceptible areas for mold growth is a great way to check your basement fast. Although it differs for each household, here are the most common places to look for mold in the basement:
- Around water supply pipes or drainage lines
- Anywhere near a dryer vent
- The ceilings above finished basements
- Near bathroom exhausts
- Around sump pumps
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Other Signs You Have Mold In Basement
Here are some of the signs that you may have mold in your basement or any other room in your house:
- A musty, pungent, or earthy smell in the basement
- Dark spots on drywall
- If you sneeze, cough, or feel itchy when you spend time in the basement
- Cracking, warping, or peeling of paint on walls and furniture
- High humidity and unusually low temperatures on the walls and furniture when you touch them
House Mold Affects Your Health
Mold will grow anywhere where it can find moisture, warmth and food, and mold will grow on anything organic in the basement
- According to Total Health magazine, household mold growth is accelerated by warmth and high humidity – especially in the basement and crawl space
- Mold spores can affect a home’s inhabitants through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact, causing a runny nose, watery eyes, mild allergic reactions, a scratchy throat, fatigue, and general discomfort when breathing. In rare cases, mold can even be toxic!
- The American Lung Association reports that 88 million people in the United States suffer from some sort of respiratory distress, and 50% of homes have at least one person living inside that has allergies, asthma, or another respiratory ailment.
- The Journal of Property Management reports that ignoring a mold problem will not only lead to the compromised health of the occupants, but it can also lead to expensive home damage
- Repairs can be lengthy and extensive, and in extreme cases, they may necessitate relocation of all inhabitants while the work is being conducted
- Mold can grow anywhere there’s moisture, including near plumbing leaks, leaking roofs, and especially in wet and damp crawl spaces and basements
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What Can You Do To Prevent Mold In A Basement
To prevent mold from reoccurring or growing at all, you can take the following steps:
Three: Drill Through The Concrete Walls
If you cant physically see the mold but youre sure its in your basement , then you may need to take more drastic measures.
One of such measures is to hire a professional contractor to drill some parts of your concrete basement wall. This will indeed consume time and money, but you need to do the needful to eliminate dangerous mold from your basement.
But why drill the walls you ask?
Concrete walls may be strong but that doesnt make them mold-proof. This is because concrete walls have tiny pores on them which allow moisture to seep through. And if it remains damp for long periods, mold will begin to grow inside the walls.
So yes, its possible to have mold deep inside your concrete walls without appearing on the surface.
The good news is you dont have to tear down the entire wall to identify internal growth, just drill through a part of the section where you suspect the mold growth.
Use a flashlight to look into the hole to visually confirm the growth of mold within your basement walls.
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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.
Mold Poisoning Symptoms In Humans
Mold poisoning can cause a number of different symptoms, depending on the age of the affected individual, the strength of their immune system, and whether or not they have a pre-existing mold allergy. Here are a few of the most common signs and symptoms of mold poisoning in humans.
- A stuffy or runny nose
- Sinus issues or infections
- Worsening or development of asthma
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Skin itchiness, redness, or discomfort
- Fever and shortness of breath
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Address The Problem That Caused The Mold In The First Place
Obviously, there is always the chance of having a one-off calamity like a flood or a blown pipe. However, these are usually in the minority when it comes to serious mold issues. More often than not, mold cases are caused by long-term issues like a slow leak or a poorly ventilated basement. These tasks below can help reduce the problem from recurring:
How Do You Keep Mold Out Of Buildings And Homes
Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth to prevent mold growth.
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
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Checking Other Spots For Mold
Did you or a pro find mold behind baseboards? If so, there is a high chance that mold will be found in another area of the building. This is because airborne mold spores spread and grow dark, humid, moist areas. It is referred to as a snowball effect as its only a matter of time before it expands. A mold testing kit may find other areas, but the best approach is a professional inspection.