*Before you do anything please make sure that any leaking water that could be causing the mold is shut off.
Mold is a silent destroyer: it creeps in when you least expect it, slowly and surely breaking down dead materials and growing in fuzzy, colorful clusters.
Outdoors, mold plays a key role in decomposing organic matter. Indoors, mold can irritate eyes, trigger asthma attacks, and even lead to chronic illnesses.
When you see white, black, gray, or green mold in your basement, it can be tempting to panic and call in professionals with hazmat suits to remove it.
Don’t worry. Stay calm.
While mold can cause health problems in certain individuals, most mold is relatively harmless. Some estimate that we’re surrounded by tens of thousands of types of mold, and chances are likely that you’re breathing in mold spores right now.
Unfortunately, mold is unsightly, and it can cause additional damage to your home and basement if not dealt with properly. While you don’t need a hazmat team to remove your mold, it’s important to identify the cause of the mold and take steps to remove it yourself.
What Causes Basement Mold?
As mold grows, it releases microscopic spores that drift in the air. Because mold can be found almost everywhere, it’s likely that mold will find its way into your house no matter how often you clean it.
However, mold is attracted to moist, damp, and dark environments (such as your basement). Any of the following could encourage
- Condensation – Basements are often known for their humidity and cold temperatures. Together these create condensation which can collect on cold metal pipes, floors, and walls.
- Flooding – Basement flooding is one of the biggest causes of mold infestation. When a house floods, the water runs down to the basement, where it doesn’t dry as quickly as other rooms.
- Leaks – Basement leaks are sometimes hard to spot, as the leak often starts in a nearby room and eventually works its way to the basement. Additionally, cracks in the walls and flooring can also allow ground water to come into your home.
- Humidity – Even if water from a flood or leak has long since evaporated, the water in the air can create the perfect environment for mold.
You can minimize these growth factors by keeping your basement well lit, ventilated, and insulated.
How to Spot Basement Mold
The easiest way to tell if your basement has mold is the smell. Mold has a musty, earthy smell. In many cases, you can smell the mold long before you can spot it.
If your basement smells musty, it’s a good idea to check for mold because it grows just about anywhere. The most common places to check include the following:
- Wall cavities
- Wooden building frames
- Storage boxes
- Ducts and vents
Additional indications of mold include floor warping and ceiling or wall discoloration.
Steps to Remove Basement Mold
If you’ve spotted mold in your basement, it’s best to take immediate steps to prevent additional damage to your home. Multiple DIY techniques are available to eliminate mold quickly and safely.
Fight Mold with Bleach
If your basement is flooded, it’s best to dry the room thoroughly and then sanitize with bleach. Bleach reduces mold count while neutralizing harmful bacteria at the same time. Most experts recommend mixing about 1 cup of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Scrub the affected area thoroughly. If your mixture becomes dirty, flush the remainder and create a new mix.
Remove Mold with Borax
Borax is a powerful cleaning agent that kills mold and inhibits mold growth. As it dries it leaves behind a powdery residue that repels mold. Unlike bleach, it is chemical free and does not emit dangerous gases. You can use a borax-based cleaner or mix 1 cup borax with 1 gallon of hot water. Make sure the borax is fully dissolved, and apply the solution to the moldy area. Let it sit for a few minutes and then use a scrubbing brush or cloth to wipe the mold away.
Fall Back on Detergent and Water
If you don’t have bleach or borax available, good old-fashioned detergent and water may do the trick. It doesn’t kill the mold entirely, but it can help remove mold on non-porous surfaces.
Remember: Safety First
Keep in mind that as you use these techniques, you should also seal the area to prevent mold spores from traveling from room to room. The more you scrub, the more mold you disperse into the air. Be sure to wear safety goggles and cleaning gloves when removing mold.
Need Additional Help?
If none of these techniques work to remove the mold, then it may be time to call in the professionals.
Some companies specialize in mold removal and remediation, so they have trained technicians to remove even the most stubborn mold infestations. Additionally, local repair companies may be able to fix cracks and leaks that lead to mold. You may even consider purchasing a dehumidifying system to combat mold, mildew, and airborne spores.
Don’t let mold become a permanent guest in your home. With just a few simple steps, you can get rid of basement mold once and for all!