Maybe it’s an earthy, musty smell you’ve noticed, or maybe you’ve discovered an alarming mass of black spots spreading out from a damp corner in your basement.
Whatever way you may have discovered it, finding mold in your basement can be stressful to deal with, especially if you’re unsure of how to keep that mold from coming back time and time again.
But just because mold is resilient, it doesn’t mean you can’t win! Let’s take a look into how to keep your basement free of mold, so that you can enjoy a safe basement and a healthy home…
What Mold Should You Worry About?
Mold is almost everywhere—or rather, you can find mold spores almost anywhere, including inside your home. There have been varieties of fungal molds since even before the dinosaurs, and chances are they will be around long after us.
But here, we’ll go over some of the most common molds that you may encounter in a US household…
While this genus of mold is typically found on starchy foods and other foods like nuts and fruits, some species of Aspergillus are capable of thriving in basements that have lingering moisture problems.
The species that you may encounter in basements may grow on your walls, window frames, and even bathroom surfaces if your basement has one.
But what makes Aspergillus a concern is the potential health effects. Some Aspergillus can create what’s called aflatoxin, which can contaminate food and is also a carcinogen and a toxin.
Meanwhile, other species can create mycotoxins, trigger allergic reactions, and even cause internal problems to your body such as a mycetoma, or a “fungus ball” as it’s otherwise known.
The various diseases that Aspergillus can cause are collectively known as Aspergillosis.
When you look at the name, the first thought that comes to mind might be the antibiotic famously known as Penicillin.
Penicillium is the group of molds responsible for that ground-breaking antibiotic, and even for the creation of some cheeses that you may eat, but not all species of Penicillium are helpful. Some can be dangerous to a person’s health.
Some harmful Penicillium like to grow on foods such as fruits and grains, usually when the food item is spoiling. There are even species of Penicillium that will grow on building materials including metal and glass.
What makes these species of Penicillium harmful is that they can create mycotoxins which can become dangerous to humans if accidentally consumed on spoiled food or inhaled.
For common Penicillium molds that appear in the house, they will typically have a fuzzy texture to their appearance. They’ll often have a bluish-green appearance, though they can also look yellow or pink.
There are many kinds of black molds out there, but it is Stachybotrys chartarum that homeowners are talking about when they bring up “black mold” or “toxic mold” in their house.
The reason for its dark reputation is because of how its spores and fungal fragments are known to contain mycotoxins.
It is also capable of growing on a variety of materials like wood, gypsum board, fiberboard, cotton, and paper. Black mold only needs one to two days before it begins to grow. In three days, it can already begin spreading.
Like many other molds, exposure to too much black mold can result in a variety of allergy symptoms such as:
- Itchy Eyes
- Runny Nose
Other symptoms have been reported, such as headaches and dizziness, but more evidence is required to confirm these particular signs of black mold exposure.
So, you’ve heard of mycotoxins a few times now. But why is it so dangerous?
What are Mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that can be produced by various fungal species. Enough of it can become toxic to a person, whether it’s by inhalation, ingestion, or even through skin absorption.
When someone’s been exposed to enough mycotoxins, they may suffer a range of diseases grouped together as mycotoxicosis.
This is one of the reasons why it is not healthy to have mold in the house, aside from the potential for damage to the affected surface, mycotoxins can pose a danger to your health.
Watch Out for Wood Rot
Unlike the other molds mentioned above, the fungal species that “wood rot” encompasses are more of a danger to your house’s wooden structures instead of your personal health.
These fungal species play a role in the decomposition of wood, hence the name “wood rot”.
Should the wooden structures in your basement become wet, and if not dried promptly, it can give fungal spores the chance to set in and begin growing on the wood surface.
This can be particularly troublesome, especially if wood rot has taken hold of an important wooden structure, like a floor joist in the ceiling of your basement or the wooden stairs that leads into your basement.
How Do I Stop These Molds from Growing?
It may seem like there’s a lot of molds to deal with, but fortunately there are ways to prevent a mold takeover from happening in your own basement.
All molds require a certain degree of moisture, some higher than others while others have lower moisture requirements.
With the proper moisture control in your basement, you can make sure your basement environment remains inhospitable for mold spores to begin their life cycle.
If you already have a mold infestation happening in your basement, it’s important to have that mold properly removed. You may need a team of basement waterproofing specialists to ensure it’s thoroughly dealt with.
But after the mold has been taken care of, you may be wondering: “How can I reliably manage my basement’s moisture levels so mold doesn’t come back again?”
Take Control with Basement Waterproofing
Basement waterproofing is the process of controlling the movement of the moisture around your foundation. Here are some of the key components that are used in an interior basement waterproofing system…
- Drainage channels
- Moisture vapor barrier
- Sump pit
- Sump pump
- Discharge pipe
When these components work together, any moisture outside your foundation that seeps through your foundation wall or floor gets collected in the drainage channels where they are then guided to the sump pit.
From there, the sump pump works to send the water out through the discharge pipe, dispensing the invasive moisture outside of your basement where it belongs.
In the interest of keeping mold out of your basement, a dehumidifier can provide that extra help to make sure your basement humidity is kept low.
With the right waterproofing system in your basement, you can make use of all your basement space without the worry of mold contaminating or damage anything.
Controlling the moisture in your basement also has other benefits including improving the air quality of your home and enhancing the resale value of your house.
If you notice intrusive moisture in your basement or the beginning signs of mold growth, contact a professional waterproofing company to keep your basement safe and dry.