Dangerous and unsightly, mold in your basement can be a damaging invader. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it just takes a little moisture before naturally occurring mold spores start their rapid growth. Paired with the low airflow of basements, moisture can cause mold growth easily and potentially damage your health and property.
Getting rid of mold in basement areas can be a daunting task, and it’s hard to know when to hire a professional versus what can be reasonably handled by yourself. This guide will walk you through what you need to know about mold in your basement, steps to get rid of it, and when you should call in a mold remediation expert.
How do you find mold in your basement?
Mold is a natural way that the environment breaks down organic debris, and tiny mold spores are present everywhere. When mold spores come into contact with a damp surface, they either begin to grow or try to break down the item that they’re growing on, such as natural fibers and untreated wood.
There are different types of mold, but it’s easy to identify each type once you know their characteristics. Knowing where to look makes it easy to find. Mold will usually grow when there is moisture from heating, ventilation and air conditional (HVAC) condensation, pipe leaks, or unsealed basement walls. By checking around your HVAC units, under overhead pipes, and along where basement walls meet the floor, you can usually find where mold has settled and started to grow.
How to test for mold in your basement
If you’re not confident in identifying mold, there are several kits that you can buy to collect a sample and have them sent to a lab for testing. Though testing is simple, you should immediately take action to stop mold in basement areas even if you just suspect it is present. Some molds are technically more damaging than others, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that all molds should be removed, no matter its specific type. Testing for the presence of mold is helpful for peace of mind and troubleshooting on whether remediation is needed. But, if mold is confirmed to be present, the type of mold in your basement is ultimately irrelevant; any mold should be removed as quickly as possible.
3 Steps to Remove Mold
According to the CDC, you cannot completely get rid of mold spores in your basement, but you can remove the source of moisture and remove the mold that has grown from it. The following steps suggested by the CDC and EPA will help you get rid of mold in your basement:
Step 1: Quickly stop the source of moisture (if you can) to prevent mold from growing further
Depending on the problem, you may have to perform significant repairs to stop the moisture. If it’s a leaky pipe, condensation in your HVAC system, or a crack in a doorway or window, make sure to either repair or have a professional repair it ASAP. If there is a moisture problem from your basement walls, run a dehumidifier to dry excess humidity.
Step 2: 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 that’s not load-bearing (such as wood studs or cement), 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 you’re not bringing the mold into your living spaces. In addition, you may consider utilizing a respirator if you cannot adequately ventilate the basement space while removing the mold.
Step 3: Clean moldy material that can’t be replaced.
For walls, floors, and other hard surfaces, use a bleach solution (1 cup of bleach per gallon of water) and/or commercial cleaners to wash and kill the mold while wearing the same protective gear mentioned in step two. Use disposable sponges and other cleaning materials so you can throw them away and avoid spreading spores to other places in the house.
When to call a professional to get rid of mold in your basement
Some basement mold cases are easy to tackle with the methods discussed in this guide, but major problems like hidden moisture leaks, floods, or ruptured pipes can lead to an explosion of mold growth in materials that have to be replaced. When you experience widespread mold, the job is better left to a mold remediation specialist such as STOP Restoration of Edison.
The bottom line on removing mold in your basement
Mold can be scary, especially if you or a loved one have allergies, asthma or other immune system sensitivities. However, you can get rid of mold in your basement by fixing moisture issues, removing unsalvageable material, and putting a little elbow grease into cleaning the affected area. Just remember to be safe, watch for cross-contamination, and never hesitate to call a professional if the problem becomes more than you can handle. You can also call in the pros to doublecheck your work and give your basement a “clean bill of health.”
The information contained herein is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by STOP Restoration of Edison, and we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability with respect to the information contained herein. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.