In science class, you must have heard that mold is a fungus that grows on moist surfaces. However, among the many scary facts that your teacher probably did not tell you is that it can grow on most surfaces, and it only takes 24 hours to start growing. Additionally, if you try painting over it, you are only hiding the problem instead of getting rid of it. While we all rush to bleach anything that we consider dirt, using bleach on mold could ineffective, and if the fungi destroy your house, most likely, your insurance policy will not cover the damage. So, before you start panicking about that mold in your basement, here’s what you need to know regarding its causes and how to eliminate it for good.
Identify Causes of Mold in Basement
Prevention is always better than cure. So, if you have spotted mold in the basement, you should check out these causes to ensure that you will not be dealing with the problem often.
- Too Much Moisture – A leaky foundation or other leaking appliances stored in the basement could expose the basement to too much moisture. Since mold needs a damp surface to grow, you will notice it slowly developing. BMS Cat informs us that even leaking walls and roofs result in a constant supply of moisture to the basement. The piping enhances mold development due to the insulation around it- mold requires warmth to grow.
- Poor Ventilation – A poorly-ventilated basement causes condensation, which in turn results in moisture buildup. We rarely go down to the basement; hence windows are not opened as much, and this accumulated humidity causes mold to have the perfect environment for growth.
How to Get Rid of it
Once you have noticed mold in the basement, the next step is to clean it up, and there are different proven methods as detailed below:
Using Common Household Products – According to The Spruce, chlorine bleach is a viable product of cleaning up any mold in the house. It is very toxic and should only be used when diluted. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) also advises against its uses due to the fumes, and it is also not effective, especially on porous surfaces. However, if you have any carpets that have caught mold, you should not use bleach because you will discolor them. If you can’t stand the toxic fumes of chlorine and prefer something mild, hydrogen peroxide is the way to go. However, it does not work as fast as chlorine bleach, but it still is effective in killing mold. If using bleach is not an option in your home, then distilled vinegar or a mixture of baking soda and borax will do the job. The vinegar can kill mold, while the borax mixture will help remove any stains left by the mold. Alternatively, use a tea tree oil solution since it is a proven natural fungicide but remember to wear gloves; it can cause skin irritation. Grapefruit seed extract oil is also a natural method, and you can let the mixture of the oil and water sit for minutes or hours, depending on the situation.
Using a Steam Cleaner – Unlike bleach that will make you believe you have removed the mold while the pores remain on the surface, steam cleaning kills mold. The steam penetrates porous surfaces to remove any pores within while also getting rid of the visible colonies. The best thing about steam cleaning is that you also do not have to worry about breathing in dangerous fumes. Besides, if cleaning fabrics or carpets, there are no chances of discoloration. However, for it to be extremely effective, you need to set your steam cleaner to the highest possible settings.
Involve Professionals – Oh So Spotless advises against mixing up household detergents and bleaches in the hopes of creating a magical solution to kill the mold because it can be deadly for you. Regardless of how enthusiastic you are about cleaning up your basement on your own, sometimes you will need professionals. The article recommends seeking experts’ help if the area affected by mold is more than 10 square feet.
How to Prevent Mold
It does not make sense finding mold, cleaning it up, and not bothering to know how to prevent it; hence, these few tips will come in handy.
- Invest in a Dehumidifier – PuroClean emphasizes that contrary to popular belief, dehumidifiers do not kill mold. Instead, they help to prevent it by reducing the amount of humidity in the air. Mold usually prefers an environment with at least 60% humidity. By monitoring moisture levels using a hygrometer to ensure they remain between 30% and 60%, you will have decreased the basement’s humidity levels.
- Adequate Ventilation – Most basements are dark, stuffy rooms, but you can install an opening to let fresh air circulate. Windows are great, and opening them regularly will reduce the possibility of moisture condensing on the basement wall. If you already have ventilation but still get mold, periodically check that the filters are in top condition and that the system is working properly.
- Hang Out Clothes to Dry – If you are used to hanging wet clothes in the basement or leaving them in the drier for too long, you encourage mold growth. Drying your clothes out not only gives them that fresh smell but also reduces the chances of them developing mold, which can later spread to the floors and walls of the basement.
- Repair Leaks – If the mold is due to leaking water from the foundation or cracks in the wall, fix the leaks. Basement wall sealers are advisable as one of the best ways to fix and prevent leaks in the basement.
- Declutter the Basement – Whatever we do not need is usually sent to the attic or the basement. Therefore the old rugs, books clothes accumulate, making the room stuffy. Without proper airflow, thanks to the many boxes stored in the basement, mold development chances are significantly increased.