Basement Mold Prevention
Basements are magnets for mold growth. The cool, damp conditions combined with plenty of food make it easy for mold to grow. How can you prevent mold from growing in your basement? Read on to find out!
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Where Do Molds Grow?
Molds grow from microscopic spores that are everywhere in the air. Molds are found everywhere in nature, including your basement, and are important for recycling organic matter (such as leaves). The recycling process they perform returns nutrients to the soil and is important for plants to grow. They need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth.
Molds grow inside of their food sources. They penetrate deeply into drywall, carpets, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, etc. Anything with carbohydrates in it could be considered a food source for molds.
Moisture is the one thing you can reasonably control when it comes to mold. A dry home equals a home with less mold growth. Keeping areas dry especially areas that use water frequently (like bathrooms) is important to prevent mold growth.
How Fast Do Molds Grow?
Once moisture is present, molds can begin to grow in less than 48 hours! Water behind baseboards and cabinets, wet carpet tack strips, in crawl spaces, basements, and other hard to reach areas are a ticking mold time bomb.
Why Basements Are Magnets For Mold
Basements have all the things mold needs to grow: food (drywall, cardboard boxes, old leather, etc.), oxygen, just the right temperature (65-75F), and moisture. Humidity higher than 60% gives mold a perfect environment in which to grow. Great for molds, bad for you! The good news is we know just how to prevent mold from causing problems in your basement. Controlling moisture levels stops mold growth in its tracks.
How To Keep Your Basement Dry
Keeping your basement dry means controlling the moisture levels. Less than 55% humidity is best when trying to prevent mold. To control moisture levels you can dehumidify your basement by:
- running your HVAC system
- using a dehumidifier
- stopping and fixing leaks
- preventing leaks from happening
Air conditioning involves the process of modifying the temperature and humidity of the air to make it more acceptable. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, or HVAC, systems are used to control the temperature, and to some degree the humidity, of indoor air. Running an air conditioner in the summer not only cools the air, it also dries the air.
If you have an HVAC system that services the basement, you can help to prevent basement mold just by running it. There is a common misconception that basement HVAC systems are unnecessary because the temperature inside most basements stays relatively constant throughout the year. Remember, though, that temperature is only one of the two functions of air conditioning. If a basement stays closed up, unventilated and unconditioned, the temperature might be within the desired range, but the humidity may be significantly elevated. Mold can grow and odors can develop in a basement or living space of a home simply because the HVAC system has been turned off.
If the HVAC system is not running, then the air is not being conditioned or filtered. Without filtration, the air will accumulate dust, dirt, and mold spores that will create a bigger problem. We have conducted basement and entire home mold remediations where the only cause of mold growth was stagnant, humid air due to the fact that the HVAC system had been turned off. This is an easy to avoid problem! Keep the HVAC system on year round, and change the air filters on a regular basis. If you think your system might need cleaning, check out our post 12 Facts about Duct Cleaning – How to Avoid Scams before you decide to have it cleaned.
So, how do you get the already cool, humid air in a basement dry without cooling it further? The answer in most cases is a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers do exactly what the name implies, remove moisture from the air. The way dehumidifiers work is that they create heat in order to absorb moisture.
Why Water Damage and Leaks Lead To Mold
Think about how mold grows. The tiniest bit of moisture combined with a food source at the right temperature – you’ve got mold. The smallest drips are the worst for leading to mold because they usually go unnoticed. A large obvious leak is less likely to lead to mold since people usually notice gushing water and deal with it quickly to avoid mold growth. When large leaks happen, drying your home quickly is very important to prevent mold growth. Those small drip, drip, drips, that are so hard to detect, help the mold, and can severely hurt your home. Learn more about the top 6 types of water damage in our post: Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them.
How Often To Check For Leaks
Ever heard the expression, ‘Prevention is worth 9/10 of the cure?’ This is definitely true when it comes to water damage and mold! Preventing mold growth from leaks is possible. Checking all appliances, near bathroom fixtures, under sinks and everywhere in your home that uses water on a regular schedule (at least every 3 months) can help prevent leaks before they become a problem. As you can see, fixing leaks quickly is vitally important to the integrity of your home!
Although you can’t always avoid catastrophic water damage to your home (think floods, burst pipes, etc.) small things, like a good home maintenance schedule, can keep mold growth at bay. To learn more about how to avoid water damage check out our post: Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage. To learn more about how to prevent bathroom mold, see our post: How to Prevent Bathroom Mold.
Finding A Leak and/or Mold
If you do find leaks, the first thing to do is get them fixed as quickly as possible. Once you find it, get it fixed today. The longer it leaks, the more damage you will have.
The water is off, and you have the pipes fixed. Good job! Now, the real work begins.
If the problem was small and you caught it quickly, you might not have much mold. If you have an area of mold that is less than 10 square feet, you may be able to clean it yourself. Check out our A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold to learn more.
If the water leak was in a difficult to see location, you may have more trouble determining if you have mold and how much it has penetrated the walls, carpet, etc. near the leak. It may also be very difficult to dry and clean the area without professional help. To learn even more check out our posts: Cleaning Mold: DIY vs. Professional and Home Mold Remediation.
How Do I Know for Sure If The Mold Is Gone?
To be sure your home is free from mold, you need a professional inspection. In our post How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection, we explained why it’s best to have mold inspections performed by a mold abatement company, rather than an inspector. An inspector will just charge a fee just for assessing the situation, and make a referral. Branch Environmental is different. You will see that we don’t just deliver mold inspections, we deliver mold investigations! To learn more about why we are the better choice check out our post: Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations.
The Branch Difference
If you think you might have a mold problem, you’re far better off with a thorough inspection like ours. We analyze the symptoms to determine the root cause of your problem. We see each mold inspection as an in-depth investigation, not an opportunity to hand over a guess-based estimate of work.
Branch Environmental offers much more than a typical mold inspection. It’s a true mold investigation! We take our work seriously, and search until we find what’s really going on. We only recommend solutions that will solve the actual problem. You can trust your home to us. Call us today!
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Why Do I Have Mold In My Basement? – Branch Environmental
- Prevent Basement Mold With Air Conditioning and Ventilation – Branch Environmental
- Home of 10,000 Leaks: Why Water Damage Leads To Mold – Branch Environmental
- How Does Mold Affect Your Health? – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- Top 8 Reasons Why Clean Air Is More Important Than Ever – Branch Environmental
- Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations – Branch Environmental
- Mold Remediation and Reconstruction Together Saves Time and Money – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Mold: DIY v. Professional – Branch Environmental
- A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection – Branch Environmental