Stop mold from lurking in your basement
“WHY DO I GET MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?”
“Why do I get mold in my basement?”
For Paul Wagner, owner of Comprehensive Mold Management in Rochester, it’s one of the most common questions he gets.
Wagner says it comes down to two main problems: too much humidity, and ground-water drainage issues.
For the first problem, Wagner advises customers to use a good dehumidifier to keep the basement’s humidity levels below 45 percent.
That usually leads to the next common question: “Do I need to run my basement dehumidifier all the time?”
The answer is, “Yes.”
A good quality dehumidifier like the Santé Fe Classic (see this blog on choosing a dehumidifier) can be set to a 45 percent relative humidity. Once set, the unit will shut off when it doesn’t need to run.
If you don’t run a dehumidifier in your basement on a regular basis, all of your belongings in the basement will take on moisture. With the lack of air flow and the high levels of moisture found in basements, your belongings will take on a musty smell and mold growth.
It’s important to have a dehumidifier that’s large enough for the size of your basement and the amount of belongings you have. Wagner says that Comprehensive Mold Management can help determine the correct size of dehumidifier for your basement.
A lack of good drainage around the foundation of your house is a more complicated problem. It can be caused by all sorts of issues: ineffective drain tile, the lack of a sump pump and/or drain tile, clogged gutters, or the negative pitch of the soil to the foundation are just a few of them.
Using the right coatings on the block walls is key. They should be guaranteed mold-proof.
Mold needs two things to grow: a food source and moisture. If the wrong type of coating is on the block walls and there is poor drainage, mold will grow on the block walls. That wrong paint or coating actually becomes a food source for the mold, which forms from excess moisture behind your walls or under floors.
If the wrong product is applied to wet walls, you might also get peeling paint. Any drainage issues should always be addressed before mold-proof coatings are applied.
“At Comprehensive Mold Management, we also advise limiting the amount of belongings stored in your basement,” says Wagner. Too much stuff will limit airflow, making it much more difficult to remove moisture. And if those objects already have mold on them, the mold levels can rise much higher.
Worse, if those existing mold spores in your basement are disturbed from, say, moving boxes or attempting to clean the mold yourself without proper containment, you risk cross-contaminating your entire home. All it takes is your furnace or air-conditioning unit to blow the mold through vents, or even you walking moldy items up your stairs for disposal.
“It’s always better to err on the side of caution and call a mold expert to evaluate your basement before moving or cleaning anything,” Wagner says.
Of course, basement flooding is the ultimate moisture problem. Knowing in advance what to do is your best defense, so keeps these tips in mind:
- Electrocution is always a danger! Be sure your electricity is turned off before venturing into the water-laden area.
- Call a plumber. If the flood is severe, also call a specialist or your local fire department to help with the water removal.
- Call your insurance company to check on your flood coverage.
- Wear protective clothing such as masks and gloves.
- Dry out water-soaked items to prevent any mold growth, which can appear quickly if not addressed.
- Keep an itemized list of your belongings.
- Wash and dry those items immediately after use.
- Remove rugs or pull them completely back from the wet area, drying the wet portions of the fabric with a fan or carpet extractor.
- Rent a carpet-cleaning vacuum/extractor to pull the water from rugs.
- Provide as much ventilation as possible.
- Run a dehumidifier continuously until the space is fully dried out and beyond.
- Run fans to assist in drying out the space and your belongings.
- Make sure there is no structural damage to your foundation.
- Keep an eye on the space for a few weeks to check on continued dampness.
For more information, visit the website at www.compmold.com.