The Threat Of Mold In A Wet Basement

by : courtney

A wet basement is more than just an annoyance. It causes serious damage to your home and harbors dangerous mold. It is estimated that over half of all homes have damp basements. About a third of those have mold and mildew growth.

Molds can be found anywhere. They are a part of the fungi kingdom and play a key role in nature in the decomposition of leaves, wood and other plant debris. But when they start digesting organic materials we don't want them to, like our homes, we have a problem. All molds need to grow is moisture. They can grow on wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paints, carpet, insulation and sheet rock.

We are exposed to mold spores in several ways. When disturbed, their spores are released into the air we breathe. You can also be exposed by skin contact if you handle moldy materials.

For normally healthy people, most molds are not a major concern. But, if you have allergies, asthma, underlying lung disease or immune suppression, you may be at greater risk for infections from mold. Be aware that some types of mold produce toxins called mycotoxins. These have been known to be harmful to humans, causing nausea, headaches, fatigue and respiratory and eye irritation. If you suspect you are experiencing these symptoms from mold, seen or unseen, consult a physician.

Mold usually presents itself in white thread-like growths or in areas of small black specks. It is often accompanied by a rotten, "musty" odor. Hidden mold growing behind wall coverings, sheetrock and ceiling tiles or under carpet is harder to detect.

The most common places to find mold in your basement are where there is water damage from flooding or leaks from pipes or water heaters. It can also grow as a result of condensation where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces or where clothing, furniture or other large objects are up against walls. High water usage and humidity can create a perfect environment for mold. Be sure you don't hang laundry to dry in the basement and check to see that your dryer is venting outside properly.

Because there is no way to completely rid your home of all mold spores, the only way to control their growth in through moisture control. Look for the source of the moisture, whether it is poor drainage, faulty gutters or foundation cracks, and repair any problems.

There are other simple steps you can take to control the mold in your basement. Move large objects away from walls and increase air circulation. Bring in fresh air when possible. Consider using a dehumidifier to pull moisture out of the air. Use exhaust fans to remove steam and humidity from basement bathrooms and laundry rooms. Dry and clean any water damaged rugs, carpet and furniture within a day or two. For the best results, remove and replace water-damaged items.

If water damage is minor, you can do the clean up by washing areas with a mild bleach solution followed by a mildew-inhibitor, such as a borate-based detergent solution. If the mold problem is extensive or if you have health concerns, consider having a professional clean up the area.