Symptoms of Mold in Basement – All You Need to Know
Can you identify symptoms of mold in your basement? Do musty smells keep you from enjoying your space? What can you do about mold if it’s present? Come learn all you need to know!
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What is mold? Where did it come from?
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.
Symptoms of Mold in Basement
Sometimes you can visibly see or smell mold growing, but other times it is more difficult to detect. Tight spaces (such as in attics, behind cabinets, in crawl spaces) are not places people are likely to venture. There are 3 ways to tell if you have mold: 1 you might see it, 2 you will probably smell it, but 3 a comprehensive mold inspection by Branch Environmental will definitely find it! The best way to know if you have mold is to get a comprehensive mold inspection performed. Keep reading to learn more about how you can identify the symptoms of mold in your home.
Symptoms of Mold in Basement – What Does Mold Look Like?
Mold is usually a black, white, brown, green, gray, or yellow, fuzzy growth. Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can’t because it is hidden in the dark recesses of your home. Places like attics, crawlspaces, basements, behind cabinets, inside floors, etc. are great places for mold to grow.
Symptoms of Mold in Basement – What Does Mold Smell Like?
Do you smell that? Did you forget to wash your gym clothes? Does the dog need a bath? I cleaned everything, and I can’t find the stench! It’s so musty! What could it be?! If this sounds like your home or office, you might have a problem with mold and MVOC’s.
MVOC’s or Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds are compounds created by fungi and bacteria during their metabolic processes. MVOC’s can be detected by simply smelling the air. The smell of MVOC’s has been compared to stinky socks, locker room odor, wet dog, or old cheese. They give off a distinctly musty, moldy smell. There are over 200 compounds that have been identified as MVOC’s. MVOC’s can be dangerous and even toxic to humans. MVOC’s can be mycotoxins or can cause allergy symptoms. It depends on which ones are present. If you smell odors like this, you may have a mold problem in your building.
There are also compounds called VOC’s or volatile organic compounds that can be produced by household cleaners, paints, aerosols, disinfectants, air fresheners, glues, and even furniture. VOC’s are not caused by mold or other microbes, and give off a distinctly chemical scent. VOC’s can cause health problems as well.
What Kinds Of Damage Can MVOC’s Cause?
There have been over 200 different chemical compounds identified as MVOC’s that are produced by fungi and bacteria. The chemicals produced include alcohols, arsenics, benzenes, toluenes, acids, sulfur compounds, and many more. Many but not all of these chemicals are mycotoxins and are harmful to people and pets simply by breathing them in. (Keep reading to learn more about mycotoxins.)
Symptoms of Mold in Basement – High Humidity and Water Leaks
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.
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 good news is you can prevent mold from causing problems in your basement. The key to decreasing humidity in your basement is keeping it dry. Controlling moisture levels stops mold growth in its tracks.
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 post Black Mold vs Mildew – 7 Common Misconceptions and When to DIY 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.
Symptoms of Mold in Basement – Is Mold Dangerous?
In one word… Yes.
All molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms. It is important to note that the longer you are exposed to the mold, the more pronounced your symptoms become. At first, it might just be allergy symptoms, but over time (weeks, months, years) mycotoxins build up in your system, and can make you sicker and sicker.
Not all molds are toxic, but many are. Mycotoxins can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. You can be affected by mycotoxins even if you are not allergic to mold.
Before we go any further, let’s clear up the confusion about ‘toxic black mold.’ When you read about ‘toxic black mold’ it is kind of misleading. The thing is… dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be green, yellow, brown, and black. Any of the colors you see could be producing mycotoxins. You can’t tell if mycotoxins are present just by looking or smelling. You have to perform a laboratory test.
So, What is a Mycotoxin?
Mycotoxins, literally ‘fungus poison’ in Latin, are secondary metabolites that can be produced by molds, and are not living organisms. Mycotoxins are a byproduct of mold. Not all mold spores produce mycotoxins, but some do. So the molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as toxic or poisonous.
So, where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold? That line is defined by the presence of mycotoxins, and is NOT defined by color. Mycotoxins are invisible and cannot be detected just by looking at the mold growth.
What Do Mycotoxins Do?
These chemical substances can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can be absorbed by the body in a number of ways including: through the skin, the airways (inhalation), and through the intestinal lining (ingestion). Detrimental health effects caused by mycotoxins can range from “acute poisoning to long-term effects such as immune deficiency and cancer.” Chronic disease sufferers, such as people with immunosuppressive disorders or underlying lung disease may be more sensitive to molds and mycotoxins in their environment.
The main ways people and pets become poisoned by mycotoxins include breathing contaminated air or eating contaminated foods. Simply breathing contaminated air can introduce the mycotoxins into your lungs! Foods such as apples, cereal grains, coffee beans, nuts, spices, dog and cat food, and more can become contaminated with fungi that produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are NOT something you want in your home! Keep reading to learn how you can remove them.
To learn more about mycotoxins in foods check out the World Health Organization’s article: Mycotoxins.
To learn more about how mold affects your pets check out our article: Mold and Pets – 10 Things You Most Likely Didn’t Know.
Please remember that this blog is NOT intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
To learn more about how mold can affect your health, check out our post: Health Effects of Black Mold.
Symptoms of Mold in Basement – What Do You Do When You Find Mold?
So, hopefully we have convinced you by now that you don’t want to live with mold! Now that you’ve found it, what do you do?
Removing mold can be a DIY project, but it’s a good idea to know when to call the pros. Our tips for mold removal help you know what to use, and what not to use. We can help you remove the mold safely, whether you choose to DIY or call the professionals. We want to help you get back to living your best life in a clean mold-free home!
Step 1 – Get a Professional Mold Inspection
Mold is a difficult thing to find. Step 1 should be a comprehensive mold and indoor air quality inspection. The company you choose for the inspection should offer a comprehensive mold inspection that you pay for, not hand over a price without truly investigating the problem. Your inspector should define the extent of the necessary work and what may or may not need to be done. The inspector should talk you through all your options and tailor a plan that fits your needs and your budget.
Step 2 – Can I clean the mold myself or do I need a professional?
Mildew (mold’s cousin) is usually easy to remove and is easily a DIY project. Mold however is a different story. You may wonder if professional help is really necessary. Customers often ask us, “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
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.
Mold is great at hiding in hard to detect locations such as in drywall and insulation. If the area of mold covers more than about 10 square feet, there is a good chance the mold problem is more than an isolated issue.
If the area of mold is less than 10 square feet, you may be able to handle it yourself. To get all the details check out our post: Black Mold vs Mildew – 7 Common Misconceptions and When to DIY. We give you all the details on how to safely clean the mold or mildew yourself.
When Hiring a Basement Mold Removal Company, What Should You Expect?
Have you ever had mold removed from your home? Do you know what to ask mold removal companies? What do they really do?
As a mold removal company, we know what you should expect and what the industry standards should be. Check out our article: ‘Crawl Space Mold Removal Near Me’ – How to Choose the Best Company for everything you need to ask a mold removal company BEFORE you hire them. If the company you interview doesn’t know the answer to the questions in our article, you don’t want to hire them!
The Branch Difference
If you think you’ve got a real problem, you’re far better off with a thorough inspection like ours. At Branch Environmental, 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. If you think you may need a mold inspection, get in touch with us, and we’ll get down to the source.
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:
- Is mold damage covered by homeowners insurance? – Insurance.com
- Should I Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a Home? – Branch Environmental
- How Does Mold Affect Your Health? – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s – Branch Environmental
- Basement Mold Prevention – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- Prevent Basement Mold With Air Conditioning and Ventilation – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose Between Freestanding and Built-in Dehumidifiers – Branch Environmental
- How Does Your Home Affect Your Allergies? – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- Effects of Mold on Children’s Health – Branch Environmental
- Tells You the Truth About Mold Air Sampling In The Next 60 Seconds – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental
- Home of 10,000 Leaks: Why Water Damage Leads To Mold – Branch Environmental
- How to Choose a Mold Removal Company – Branch Environmental
- Basement Mold Prevention – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – 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
- Branch Environmental Keeping You Safe – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Mold: DIY vs. Professional – Branch Environmental