What you’ll learn in this article
- Signs of Mold in Your Basement or Crawlspace
- How to Identify Mold in Your Basement
- Is it Safe to Live in a House with Mold in the Basement?
- Causes of Mold in the Basement
- How to Get Rid of Mold in the Basement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Basements and crawlspaces that are warm and damp are the luxury condominiums of the fungal world. This article will help you learn more about the presence of mold in your basement or crawlspace. You will also get more information about the potential health risks to you and your family caused by the presence of mold in your basement or crawlspace.
Signs of Mold in Your Basement or Crawlspace
When you have a warm and humid basement, spores that were once dormant spring to life and begin to reproduce. When this happens, mold starts to appear in sizes big enough to see with the naked eye. If you are highly vigilant, there are noticeable signs that your basement has become a mold breeding ground. Catch these signs before your mold problem gets out of hand.
High Humidity: If your basement or crawlspace feels damp and you notice condensation on pipes and windows, it’s a sign that the humidity is high enough for spores to germinate and develop into mold.
Musty Smells: If your basement develops a musty, damp, or earthy odor, it might be an early sign that you have a mold problem or at the very least a damp enough environment to encourage mold growth.
Peeling Wallpaper or Paint: If you have wallpaper or paint that is bubbling and peeling, it means that the humidity is high enough to weaken the adhesive that attaches it to the wall. This means that conditions in your home are damp enough for dormant spores to activate.
Allergies: If you notice an increase or new occurrence of allergy symptoms with no apparent reason, it might be attributed to unrecognized or undetected mold growth in your home.
Spots and Stains: If you notice dark staining or spots on walls and textiles in your basement, it is because mold has gained a foothold in your house. Substrates that mold can survive on are varied and can include drywall, paper, cardboard, wood, concrete, ceiling tiles, insulation, and upholstery.
It is important to mention that if you notice one or more of these signs in your basement but cannot visually identify the spots or staining attributed to mold growth, then it is likely the mold is hidden in an area that is not easily observed.
Mold can often remain hidden behind drywall, appliances, ceiling tiles or pipes for a long enough time to become a significant problem. If this occurs, it is not only dangerous to the structure of your home, but also to the health of its occupants.
Therefore, it is vital that you are proactive at the very first sign that mold may be a problem. It may be necessary to locate any wet or damp areas in the basement and remove the drywall and ceiling tiles in the area in order to reveal the mold that is potentially hiding behind them.
How to Identify Mold in Your Basement
Molds that grow in basements come in a variety of colors that range anywhere from light grey to black and may present varying colours at once. Common household molds categorized by colour are:
- Green Mold: Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium
- Black Mold: Stachybotrys (toxic black mold), Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium
- White Mold: Alternaria, Chaetomium, Penicillium
- Blue Mold: Penicillium
- Yellow Mold: Aspergillus, Epicoccum nigrum, Geomyces pannorum, Serpula lacrymans, Yellow Slime Mold
- Brown Mold: Aureobasidium pullulans, Cladosporium, Mucor, Pithomyces chartarum, Stemonitis, Taeoniella
Texture and Shape
Mold in your basement might appear to be fuzzy or slimy. It may grow in circular patches, irregular splotches, or streaks.
It might take some online sleuthing in order to properly identify the type of mold you have in your basement. But if you’re unsure of what mold you’re looking at or don’t want to risk the health of your family on your novice mycology skills, there are testing kits available that will be able to give you a more certain answer.
On purchasing a testing kit, you simply follow the included instructions and place a sample of the mold in an envelope to be shipped to a lab for professional analysis. While this may be an important step in identifying which mold you have in your home, be sure not to sit around waiting for the results. You need to start attacking your mold problem by calling professionals right away because mold in your basement is a problem regardless of what type it is.
Is It Safe to Live In a House With Mold in the Basement?
Living in a house with a moldy basement or crawlspace can lead to significant health problems for you and your family. Prolonged exposure to mold and its spores can lead to:
Respiratory Conditions: Mold spores are microscopic and easily travel into your body with each inhaled breath. They cause distress in the respiratory tract that manifests as coughing, chest and nasal congestion, and shortness of breath.
Invasive Mold Infections: For immunocompromised individuals, mold exposure can lead to a dangerous fungal infection. Symptoms may be severe and include fever, chills, a cough that brings up blood, chest pain, joint pain, and skin lesions.
Mycotoxin Exposure: Certain types of molds produce airborne mycotoxins that have been shown to cause severe illness including but not limited to: heart problems, cancer, kidney and liver diseases, fibromyalgia and various immune disorders.
Knowing these risks, it is very important to treat areas with mold growth in a swift and comprehensive manner. Illnesses that arise from living in a moldy environment can range from minor to severe and can even lead to life-long health complications. It is especially urgent if you live with individuals who are immunocompromised, have respiratory disease, or are undergoing cancer treatment as what may cause a healthy individual a minor allergic reaction may have a more severe effect on them.
Causes of Mold in the Basement
If you have mold in your basement or crawlspace, it is usually due to a water intrusion or leak. The source of water may not be obvious and will require a thorough investigation to determine the culprit. When trying to identify the cause, be sure to check for these potential issues.
- Foundations: Cracked or oversaturated foundations can both lead to having a damp and mold-prone basement.
- Brick Walls: Improperly designed or blocked drainage systems in houses with brickwork walls can lead to water finding its way into your basement.
- Windows: Basement windows that have old weather stripping or are improperly caulked can accumulate enough water to result in mold growth.
- Decks: Attached decks that don’t have proper flashing may allow water to pool near your home and find its way into the basement.
- Landscaping: It is important for surrounding landscaping to have a slope grading away from the house which will prevent water from pooling around the foundation.
- Downspouts: Improperly installed downspouts or clogged gutters may fail to lead water away from the foundation of the home and lead to water intrusion.
- Plumbing: Issues with leaky pipes and plumbing fixtures can cause water damage that creates the perfect condition for mold to grow.
- Appliances: Leaky appliances in your basement such as a washer or water heater can supply enough moisture to the area that will lead to a mold problem.
How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Basement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Properly removing mold and preventing its return is a tedious process that requires the expertise of a professional. If your mold problem is not extensive and there is little to no water damage, you may be able to treat your mold problem with DIY solutions.
DIY vs Professional Mold Removal
Tackling a DIY mold removal project is a difficult endeavour and should only be considered in areas that contain a small amount of mold. Before starting any DIY removal projects, there are two questions that need to be addressed:
- The size and extent of mold growth.
- The location of where moisture is entering the basement.
Consequently, it is important to conduct a thorough examination to determine the size and scope of your mold and water intrusion problems before attempting any DIY remedies. If you are unsure of the extent of the mold growth or its source, it is highly advisable to contact a professional mold remediation company with a proven mold removal process instead of attempting to resolve it on your own.
When DIY Mold Removal Is Possible
Once you have determined the size of the mold growth in your basement you will be able to decide whether DIY mold removal is a viable solution for your problem.
Health Canada states that mold growth which encompasses an area of less than three square meters and contains less than three mold patches may be safe to remove on your own with the use of proper procedures and safety equipment. This process may only be started once the source of moisture in your basement has been remedied and the full extent of mold growth is discovered. If you happen to skip any of these steps or your assessment of the situation is not accurate, the result of the DIY removal processes will be rendered useless, and the mold will quickly return.
When to Contact a Professional Mold Removal Company
Health Canada advises that any area that contains more than three patches of mold or encompasses an area larger than three square meters should be dealt with by trained professionals.
Large areas of mold are a significant problem to both the health of your family and the structure of your home; hence, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Instead, hire a professional to identify the extent of the mold growth and the source of the moisture.
Areas with large patches of mold need increased scrutiny to determine if mold growth has spread unseen in other areas of the property. It is also possible that even areas with small amounts of surface mold may be harboring more mold growth behind wall panels or above ceiling tiles.
If an issue with mold in your basement arises in your home, rely on professional mold removal services to eliminate the problem. Don’t risk attempting DIY measures that will likely not work but end up allowing mold more time and freedom to grow abundantly.
Hiring a Mold Removal Specialist
When considering getting a consultation for mold removal, we can help you with a free estimate! The cost of the estimate will vary depending on the situation and the extent of damage observed in your home.
Having mold in your basement can greatly affect the health of your family. Here at Steri Mobile, our mold remediation process makes sure that the mold in your home is gone for good. If you think you have mold in your basement, don’t hesitate to contact us. We specialize in mold removal in your home, from basement mold to attic mold.