15 Useful Tips from the Experts in Basement Mold Removal
Basements are magnets for mold. Do you know how the basement mold removal process works? How can you prevent basement mold? Come read and learn all you need to know.
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Why Basements Are Magnets For Mold
Basements have all the things mold needs to grow: food (drywall, cardboard boxes, leather goods, etc.), oxygen, just the right temperature (65-75F), and moisture. Humidity higher than 60% gives mold a perfect environment in which to grow. The good news is you can prevent mold from causing problems in your basement. Controlling moisture levels stops mold growth in its tracks.
What Is Mold?
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 the right temperature range.
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 enough 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.
Basement Mold Magnet – High Humidity
Basements are generally cool, damp environments because the dry air in the basement draws water from the surrounding soil. High humidity (greater than 55%) is one of the main factors encouraging mold growth in your basement. The key to decreasing humidity in your basement is keeping it dry.
How To Keep Your Basement Dry
Keeping your basement dry means controlling the moisture levels. Less than 55% humidity is best to prevent mold growth. 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.
To learn more about dehumidifiers and to determine which type is right for your check out our post: How to Choose Between Freestanding and Built-in Dehumidifiers.
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. Think about where the pipes are located in your home… you guessed it, in the basement.
The smallest leaks 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 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, below pipes in the basement, 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.
I found a leak and mold! What now?
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.
What Does Professional Basement Mold Removal Look Like?
There are 5 steps in the remediation process: Define the Scope, Protect the People, Remove the Mold, Correct Moisture Problems, and Restoration.
Step 1 – Define the Scope
If the inspection of your home indicates that you have mold, your inspector will let you know the extent of the damage, and what repairs need to be made, such as fixing leaking pipes. The inspector will define the extent of the necessary work, and what may or may not need to be done. Your inspector should talk through all your options and tailor a plan that fits your needs and your budget.
When choosing a mold remediation company be sure to choose a mold inspection that you pay for, NOT one that is free. The primary reason that we charge for our mold inspections is the time and resources that go into each one. Some of our competitors offer “free” inspections, which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem. To learn more check out our post: Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection.
Step 2 – Protect the People
Keeping your family and our crews safe is the first priority. This means preparing your home for the work that needs to be done. We will use methods such as containment walls and negative air to keep your home safe, and we’ll let you know if you can or cannot be in the home during the work.
Step 3 – Remove The Mold
We will start by removing and discarding non-salvageable material. Next, we will clean what can be saved. We always use safe and environmentally friendly products. There is no reason to replace one environmental toxin with another, such as bleach.
Step 4 – Correct Moisture Problems
Removing or correcting the source of moisture is a vital part of the remediation process to ensure mold does not return. This may be handled by a contractor outside the scope of the mold remediation. If walls or floors are opened up, now is the time to address plumbing issues and other leaks.
Step 5 – Restoration
If walls or floors were removed during the remediation, the final step will be reinstalling what was taken out.
To learn more about the mold removal process from start to finish check out our post Home Mold Remediation for all the details.
When To Clean / When To Call
If you’re familiar with our blog, you know that the first thing to do when cleaning mold is to fix the moisture problem that led to the mold growth. Until you fix the moisture problem, mold will continue to grow and spread.
Customers often ask, “Can I clean the mold myself or do I need a professional?” Our answer depends several factors including:
- how extensive the mold problem is
- what building materials, furnishings, and belongings are affected
- where the mold is located
- whether or not you mind being in confined spaces such as your crawlspace, basement, or attic
To get all the details check out our post: Cleaning Mold: DIY vs. Professional.
Especially if you don’t live in our service area, you should check out our post: How to Choose a Mold Removal Company. We tell you every question you should ask a mold removal company and give you the details you need to know.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Basement Mold Prevention – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- Prevent Basement Mold With Air Conditioning and Ventilation – Branch Environmental
- Top 8 Reasons Why Clean Air Is More Important Than Ever – Branch Environmental
- 12 Facts about Duct Cleaning – How to Avoid Scams – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose Between Freestanding and Built-in Dehumidifiers – Branch Environmental
- Burst Pipes and Flooding: A 6 Step Plan of Action – Branch Environmental
- Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage – Branch Environmental
- Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them – Branch Environmental
- Do You Know How To Shut Your Water Off? – 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
- Branch Environmental Keeping You Safe – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Mold: DIY vs. Professional – Branch Environmental
- 5 Expectations about Mold vs. Eye-Opening Reality – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose a Mold Removal Company – Branch Environmental