Causes of Mold in the Home
There are many sources of moisture found in the basement. And any water problem in the basement usually takes a longtime to dry out. This is because the basement gets no sunlight, very little ventilation and is often humid.
To make matters worse, once mold has begun to grow in the basement it will probably go unnoticed for a long time since people don’t spend much time in their basements. People rarely clean their basements too and the dust and dirt helps mold to grow. Mold loves to grow on some of the building materials in the basement. Some favourites are paper surfaced drywall, wood panels, wood studs and insulation.
Condensation Causes Mold in Basement
High humidity plus the often cold temperatures in the basement produces a lot of condensation. Condensation collects on cold metal pipes, cold concrete basement floors (even if there is carpet over the top) and on walls.
Flooding and Basement Mold
One of the biggest causes of mold in the basement is flooding. If a house is flooded, dangerous molds like toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) can start to grow after the flood. These molds need materials to be very wet for several days to begin growing. When a house is flooded, water runs down to the basement and stays there long after the other rooms have dried.
Preventing Mold after a Flood
After a flood the best thing you can do is contact a mold remediation company or water damage specialist who perform clean ups of homes after floods.
If you have to clean up your home yourself though here are the main points:
Clean and dry your house and everything inside it as soon as possible. Remove whatever standing water inside that you can. You can also use fans, air conditioning, heaters or dehumidifiers to help dry out your home faster. Remove wet materials from your home straight away. Wet insulation and wet padding on carpet take a very long time to dry out and so you should remove them.
Clean items in your home that got wet using a detergent or cleaning product and then let them dry out. You should generally throw away things that got wet from flood water and which can’t be cleaned and dried. The same goes for items that become moldy and cannot be cleaned. Also clean hard, non-porous surfaces in your home and let them dry out.
Mold from Basement Leaks
Leaking pipes in the basement or in nearby rooms lead to basement mold growth. Water in the ground can also find its way into the basement through cracks in the walls.
Basement Humidity and Mold
Once water in the basement evaporates it raises the humidity level in the basement. The humidity then usually stays high thanks to poor ventilation and no sunlight. Some molds can begin to grow in the basement just from this high level of humidity.
Signs of Mold in Basement
One of the clearest signs that you have mold in your basement is the smell. Because of the stagnant air in the basement, odors build up and become very noticeable. Don’t ignore a musty or moldy smell in the basement as it probably means you have a basement mold problem.
Finding Mold in Basement
When looking for mold in the basement you should begin by trying to find any signs of moisture. Areas where there are signs of water damage or leaks are likely spots for mold growth.
Mold can grow on any objects or building materials made from organic substances. In the basement these surfaces can be found everywhere such as drywall, wooden building frames, carpet, insulation, furniture or cardboard boxes.
If you cannot find mold in your basement but you suspect it is growing somewhere don’t forget that you always have the option of mold testing. Mold testing can be performed by professionals for you or you can do it yourself using mold test kits. Both air and surfaces can be sampled for mold spores during mold testing.
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Mold Can Live In The Cold: Ever see mold in a refrigerator? Research shows that as long as the temperature is above 40 °F (4 °C), mold can grow and spread.
Mold & Dust Mites Grow Fast: Mold can begin to grow in a home in as little as 24-48 hours, with a billion mold spores growing on a single foot of drywall. A single female dust mite can lay upwards of 250 eggs in its three-month life span.
Mold Leads To Insurance Woes: Due to tens of thousands of mold-related lawsuits being filed, most general liability and property insurance companies now exclude mold insurance from their policies. Mold Destroys Your Home: Professional Builder Magazine warns that mold will dramatically lower the value of your home. A home worth $250,000 can have $100,000 in mold problems. Mold can even lead to structural damage to your home!
Mold Spores Can Damage Your Health: Mold spore exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. Mold and dust mite waste is connected to allergies, asthma, and other breathing issues. Even dead mold spores can be damaging to your health.
Dust Mite Waste Is Highly Allergenic: 90% of patients show dermal reactivity to dust mite waste and 10% of the general population is also sensitive. Dust mite waste makes up 80-90% of the allergic component of house dust, containing 15 potent allergens that sensitize and trigger allergic reactions. In fact, Canadian Family Physician states that “controlling dust mites is the most important thing you can do in your house to make your asthma and allergies better.”
Mold & Dust Mites Are Sneaky: Mold can grow in fiberglass insulation, behind drywall panels, and behind wallpaper. Dust mites can live in furniture, cloth, and pillows. Just because you don’t see a problem does not mean that one does not exist.
To Sum It Up: The Indoor Air Quality Association states, “If you are reacting to a problem because somebody’s been sick, you’ve waited way too long to address indoor air quality.” The best way to protect yourself is to prevent the mold or dust mite problem before it begins!
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