Everything You Need to Know about Mold in Basements
Have you recently experienced leaks, flooding, or extreme humidity in your basement? Even if you haven't, it's good to know what to do when and if your basement is overloaded with moisture, because it could mean you have a mold problem.
Basement mold tests should be done regularly. If you know there is excess moisture in the basement, notice an unpleasant smell, or haven't checked in a while, it's a good idea to do it now. It's also important to take steps to prevent mold or fungus growth because it can cause serious health issues for you and your family, and if you let it get out of control, it can be incredibly difficult to get rid of.
It's important to know what mold is, what conditions cause it to grow, and how you can prevent it from invading your home and basement.
If you find mold in your home, you also need to know how to get rid of it effectively, sanitize your home correctly, and protect your home from future growth.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungus. It is found growing in humid and wet areas, such as a damp basement, and is different from organic mold found outdoors.
Why is mold harmful?
As mold grows, it releases spores into the air, which can cause people to become sick if inhaled. Toxic mold exposure can lead to allergic reaction symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, and even skin irritations. It can trigger asthma attacks and cause serious problems for individuals who have weakened immune systems. If left unchecked, mold will also eventually destroy the things it grows on.
Where does mold come from?
Mold can get into your home through any open windows, doorways, air conditioning and heating systems, and any other spaces that lead into your home. Mold spores can also attach themselves to clothing, shoes, and pets.
Once mold spores settle into a space where there is excess moisture, such as in a leaky basement, they will grow very quickly
.How do I know if I have mold?
Mold is a greenish-black and has a damp, musty scent. You probably don't need to buy a mold test kit, especially if the fungus is visible. If you can see it or smell it, the CDC says that it should be removed, no matter what type of mold it is.
Does a flooded basement always mean mold will grow?
Basement flood mold typically takes 24 to 48 hours to grow after flooding if the right conditions are met. It depends on the type of surfaces and materials, the temperature, and the amount of moisture. Indoors, mold generally grows faster on softer surfaces in dark, warm (70 degrees or more), and humid environments.
The chance for spores to spread from one area to another increases with time. It can quickly fill the air and spread throughout your home, affecting more and more areas and endangering your health with every passing hour.
Mold spores that start to colonize on surfaces within 24 hours become visible in about 18 to 21 days of the flooding. But that only happens if nothing has been done to dry the water and restore the affected surfaces.
For these reasons, it's essential to deal with water and moisture issues as soon as you have a flooding incident. The faster the cleanup and drying take place, the smaller the chances of significant mold growth.
Dealing with Mold
How to get rid of mold
If you find mold in your basement, get rid of it right away. Remove the infection and sanitize the area. If you find mold in the carpet or on furniture, it's safer to remove and replace these items instead of trying to save them. If you are unable to do that, you can remove the infection with bleach, borax, and vinegar. Bleach does not completely kill mold, but it reduces the mold count and neutralizes harmful bacteria.
Once your basement is clean and sanitized, make sure it dries completely. Otherwise, mold may grow back.
Basement Mold Prevention
How to prevent mold in the basement
The best way to prevent mold in your basement is to avoid plumbing leaks, flooding, and humid and musty air. Installing dehumidifiers is a great way to keep the moisture in the air low and prevent mold outbreaks. Basement waterproofing is another smart solution.
Waterproof your basement
To make sure you don't have any mold problems in the future, it's a good idea to waterproof your basement. There are several basement waterproofing solutions to choose from. You can either seal it from the inside or the outside.
Interior Basement Waterproofing
- Concrete waterproofing coating: Waterproofing coatings are thick and cement-like. Once they dry, they adhere permanently to concrete and masonry walls. The coating is applied with a heavy brush. At the final stage of application, swirl the brush to give the wall an attractive, finished look.
- Silicate-based concrete sealers (also known as densifiers): These sealers soak in and chemically react with ingredients in the concrete, forming a hard, waterproof surface. They are suitable only for walls that haven't yet been painted or sealed. Because these penetrate the wall, they can't flake off or peel, and you can paint over them (but check the label first).
- Waterproofing paint: This is an acrylic formula, not much different from ordinary wall paint. But it is applied much more thickly.
- Plastic sheets and panels: These are suitable for wall waterproofing, but only in combination with interior basement drainage systems. They don't stop water from getting through the wall, but they stop it from ruining things in the basement.
TIP: These products will only work if all cracks and gaps are properly sealed. Make sure you fill all cracks and gaps less than 1/8-inch wide with polyurethane caulk. Patch wider cracks with an epoxy filler.
Exterior Basement WaterproofingThe surest way to waterproof your basement is a full-scale exterior waterproofing solution. Exterior waterproofing involves excavating around the house to the full depth of the foundation walls, and then installing a waterproof coating topped by drainage panels. The panels provide a path for water to flow down to an exterior drain at the bottom of the foundation. From there, water flows (by gravity or with the aid of a sump pump) away from the foundation to another part of your property or into a storm drain.
Need Help with Basement Mold?
AK Water Works can help! Get in touch with us and we can promptly send an experienced plumbing technician out to you. Our professionals will be able to determine what repairs need to be done to solve your water leakage or water invasion problem, and we can waterproof your basement to prevent future leaks or mold problems.