How to recognize Basement Mould
The problem of basement mould is usually recognized by sight or smell. If you smell a musty odour, you probably have a mould problem even if you can’t see it. Basement mould comes in a variety of colors that range from light grey to black. They may have green, blue and/or brown tinges. It is difficult to identify the type of mould based on the color. You may have read on the internet that if the mould is closer to black, it is either the Stachybotrys or Cladosporium moulds. And if it is closer to light grey, it is either Aspergillus or Fusarium moulds. This is not true as several types of moulds that grow in the basement may all appear black or grey. Also, in most cases there is more than one type of mould growing in the basement. The best way to identify the types of mould growing in your basement is to collect samples and send them to a recognized laboratory for identification.
Causes of Basement Mould Growth
Basement mould growth is caused by flooding, water leakage or moisture accumulation in your home. Leaks and floods can occur for a variety of reasons, but when they’re in your basement it’s likely that the culprit is a cracking or shifting foundation or an ineffective moisture barrier. When your home was built its foundation was coated in some sort of sealant. That sealant is supposed to protect your home from the constant pressure of groundwater, but after some time it often wears away or is punctured or torn by a settling foundation.
While most people recognize that flooding can lead to basement mould, what is far less obvious is that mould can just as easily form from condensation resulting from high levels of humidity even in the absence of flooding. High humidity is the cause of the majority of basement mould problems. Ideally, relative humidity levels should be in the range of 30% to 50% throughout your home. As relative humidity rises to 60% and above, mould growth may occur. High humidity can be caused by poor ventilation in the basement.
Storing materials that are subject to mould attack in the basement presents some challenges when moisture is prevalent. It is a bad idea to store clothes, furnishings, and paper in a basement because they are prime breeding grounds for basement mould and it is difficult to remove the mould from them once it starts. Any materials stored in a basement should be away from the exterior basement walls, and they should be elevated so that air can pass between them and the floor.
How to Get Rid Of Basement Mould Growth
As mentioned above, moisture is the main cause of mould growth. Dehumidifying a basement, whether finished or unfinished, is therefore the key to mould control. The relative humidity (RH) should be kept at or below 50% in an unfinished basement in the warmer season. Measure the RH with a hygrometer, available in many building supply and hardware stores. If the RH exceeds 50% in an unfinished basement or 60% in a finished, insulated basement, increase the dehumidification. Use a dehumidifier that has adequate capacity for the space. Keep basement windows closed when dehumidifying.
If basement flooding occurs, you must dry the area out within 48 hours or basement mould will follow. This requires powerful blower fans and dehumidifiers. Lifting up carpeting and cutting holes in drywall might be necessary to properly dry and prevent mould growth. The longer you wait to dry out, the more you risk a costly mould removal and mould remediation project.
If mould has already grown, you have two options to get rid of it. For one, you can do the task yourself. This is especially so if you have the necessary tools and equipment to work with. Of course, you should have enough knowledge on how to handle and remove mould in the basement. The fact is, it can be very tricky to remove extensive mould growth. You have to be really careful when removing mould because this can spread millions of spores to the rest of the house. While working through the process of basement mould removal you may want to look into a respirator for yourself. If you inhale mould during the cleaning process you can develop any number of respiratory problems. Wearing a respirator will help to filter the air you breathe in so that it is mould free.
Before starting to get rid of basement mould, the first step is to fix the problem of moisture. Once done, then the area should be dried out using fans, heaters, or other method. During this process, the windows should be open for adequate air circulation and ventilation.
When dealing with any basement mould remediation, removal of damaged porous building materials is necessary. Porous building materials allow mould to embed itself and grow a mycelial root structure within the pores of the substrate. Porous substrates include drywall, insulation, wood paneling, carpet, carpet pads, OSB decking and low or high density particle board (commonly used to build kitchen and bathroom cabinets and countertops.) HEPA filtered negative air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums must be utilized in remediation to remove any settled or airborne spores from the environment. Any semi-porous substrates such as lumber used for framing or block walls may be cleaned using an anti-fungal biocide and HEPA vacuuming. Post remediation testing is crucial to determine whether the remediation was effective or not.
You can make this basement mould much less likely to return if you can keep the walls dry, clean and if better ventilation is provided for as well. The best way to prevent mould growth is to control humidity and moisture in your basement. If for any reason the humidity and moisture in your basement is hard to control look into purchasing a dehumidifier.
If the area infected by mould is large, then it is wise to get a professional mould remediator to remove the mould. There are three steps to remove basement mould – contain the basement mould to prevent it from spreading to unaffected areas, remove the mould carefully and finally clean the basement and take measures to prevent the future fungal growth.
Why Get Rid of Basement Mould Growth
Basement mould isn’t just destructive and a health hazard, it is also ugly and can create unsightly, dark swaths of discoloration across large portions of your basement walls. Basement mould is harmless in small quantities, but as it grows, it becomes more and more of a health hazard. Some will cause certain types of allergic reactions while others are outright toxic. If left untreated, the basement mould will keep growing, eventually spreading through the entire building. This is why you must find the mould before the problem gets out of hand. Once you find it, you will need to be able to identify it and then figure out how to get rid of it.