Reducing mold in basement spaces is particularly tough for any of us with poor ventilation and high moisture content.
Generally speaking, basements are dark and temperate areas, have little air-flow and are subject to rapid mold occurence – even when kept clean. People with mold allergy should avoid basements with excess moisture.
Many of today’s homes provide plenty of organic material for mold to feed on. And, any mold growth seen on concrete walls may be the result of a colony of mold growing behind the walls. Ceiling tiles are another problematic spot. Mold damage is mostly visible on both concrete and drywall.
If you’ve ever walked into your basement to find unsightly, black spots growing on your walls, floor, or ceiling, you’ve most likely had a run in with mold spore.
Mold (stachybotrys chartarum) and mildew can show up in any area of the house. And, basement spaces often provide the most favorable living conditions for this fungus to thrive.
As a result, mold in basements can sometimes be difficult to get rid of it without first addressing and correcting the underlying issues allowing the mold to flourish.
Table of Contents
Causes Of Mold In Basement
All types of mold require certain living conditions in order to grow and stay alive. That being said, for mold to start to appear, there usually has to have been something that caused the right conditions.
Common Events That Will Lead To Mold In Basement
- Excessive Moisture in Basement: In order to grow, mold requires oxygen, moisture, and organic material. Often, basements may have excessive moisture due to condensation or sometimes even foundations that are leaky.
And, often enough, moisture problem in basements are a result of appliances stored in the area.
- Leaks in Basement Piping: Basements are often the site of frequent leaks. While even the best built foundation can eventually leak from years of wear and tear, one of the most common causes of basement leaks is a faulty or damaged foundation.
That being said, natural causes can also contribute to leaky foundations. Hydro-static pressure – typically caused by the soil’s water table rising higher than normal underneath a foundation – is one of the main causes of foundations leaking.
Additionally, if a basement has windows, water can sometimes accumulate in the window wells – sometimes the result of a drain being clogged – that can result in leaks.
If any of these types of leaks occur in a basement, mold growth is an imminent possibility.
- Flash Floods: As previously mentioned, hydro-static pressure can cause basement leaks or even flooding – that can and will lead to mold surfacing.
Flash floods that occur in your area can cause high amounts of water to build up in the soil against your basement’s foundation.
And as a result, leaks and flooding can occur creating moisture, standing water, and if left untreated, potential mold and mildew. Porous basement surface can be additional source of excess moisture and thus a source of household mold.
- Sump Pump Failure: Nearly all basements have a sump pump, and if your sump pump fails, you may be looking at serious water damage.
Sump pumps work to collect extra water accumulating around your home’s foundation and send it elsewhere.
If your sump pump starts working, you may find that you have severe leaks in your basement.
Causes of sump pump failure can include power failure or the pump not being regularly maintained.
- Water Heater Failure: In most homes, the water heater can be found in the basement. Even if your water heater has a small leak, it can cause standing water and moisture in your basement that may eventually lead to mold.
Additionally, when complete water heater failure occurs, there’s often significant flooding that can cause standing water and damage to floors and walls.
And, this in turn will accelerate mold, mildew or black mold growth if not quickly cleaned and allowed to dry properly.
- Poor Ventilation: Poor ventilation in basements is one of the most common causes of condensation. Eventually the condensation creates moisture build up and humidity that can eventually lead to mold in basements or really any area when air is not allowed to vent and circulate properly.
These are just a few of the common causes of leaks in basements. Whatever the cause of a leak or excessive moisture in your basement, not keeping a cool, dry, environment can put your basement at risk of mold or black mold growth.
Basement Mold Prevention
Now that you know some of the common causes of basement mold, the next important step is knowing how to prevent mold from growing in your basement.
Below are a few simple ways humidifiers can help ensure that mold doesn’t start growing in your basement.
- Dehumidifiers are an Excellent Prevention Method to Mold Growth: If your basement simply has poor ventilation or you’ve recently discovered a leak and are trying to get your basement’s level of humidity back to normal, a dehumidifier can be an invaluable tool in basement mold prevention. An exhaust fan could be a cheap solution for decreasing mold amount in the basement.
The higher the humidity in the air, the higher levels of moisture. Recall that in order for mold to grow, high levels of moisture must be present.
- Use Fogging to Apply Recommended Chemicals to Kill Basement Mold: There are numerous chemical products available that can prevent and clean up mold.
A common method of applying the chemicals to a basement that has had – or may be at risk – for mold is to place the chemical treatment in a fog machine. This process is commonly referred to as “fogging.”
- Identify and Fix Basement Leaks to Prevent Basement Mold: If your basement suffers from any of the leak causes mentioned above, your first step in mold prevention is making sure that you’ve repaired any and all leaks in your basement.
Depending on the type and cause of the leak, this may be as simple as repair your water heater or sump pump, however, if your basement has any cracks that are allowing water to seap in, you may need to call in a professional to help repair the damage.
- Basement Wall Sealers Will Serve Well to Inhibit Mold or Black Mold Growth: Basement wall sealers can be a fantastic way to prevent and fix leaks that have occurred in your basement.
That being said, there are numerous different types of basement wall sealers to choose from.
Here is a short video on How to Waterproof your Basement Walls
The type of basement wall sealer that will work best for your situation will depend on the cause of your basement walls leaking.
Common Types Of Basement Mold
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one type of mold that can be found in your basement. While all mold is unsightly, certain types of mold can also be toxic for humans.
Furthermore, different breeds of mold will appear in different colors and specific types of mold grow on certain surfaces better than others.
Below are some of the most common types of mold that may be found in your basement area.
Also, please keep in mind that there are two different kinds of molds: Allergenic and mycotoxin molds or black molds that produce mycotoxins (a toxic chemical produced by the fungus).
Allergenic molds are molds that aren’t typically a health risk unless you’re either highly sensitive to mold or have asthma.
And, in contrast, mycotoxin molds are toxic for humans and pets and should be handled and removed with extreme care.
If you are unsure of what type of mold that you suspect is in your home or basement, it is recommended to call your local professional to identify the mold or mildew growth and take it from there.
- Aspergillus: There are several different types of aspergillus mold, but the majority of the different types thrive in indoor environments. In fact, aspergillus is one of the most common household molds.
While some types of aspergillus molds are allergenic, others are mycotoxin and should be handled by a mold removal specialist.
Certain types of allergenic molds are carcinogenic and have been found to grow in human tissue. Typically dark green in color, aspergillus can be found growing on walls, ceilings, and even furniture.
Aspergillus mold thrives in damp, warm environments. It has also been found to grow in areas that are relatively dry, but simply have higher levels of humidity and or condensation.
- Fusarium: Fusarium mold requires very wet conditions to grow and is most often found in carpets, damp walls, certain types of foam, and standing water (often around HVAC systems).
Furthermore, Fusarium molds can also be found in the air vents on humidifiers. Unlike some other molds, it doesn’t require a warm, humid environment to grow.
It also produces mycotoxins and can be harmful to both humans and animals. Often appearing whitish-yellow in color, fusarium molds will grow extremely quick.
- Cladosporium: This type of mold appears black in color and is most often found in areas with high levels of condensation. However, unlike some other types of mold, cladosporium does not require warm conditions and can be found living in cool environments.
- Stachybotrys: Commonly known as “black mold,” stachybotrys is black in appearance and gives off mycotoxins that can be harmful for humans.
This very, nasty mold gives off a distinct musty odor and can usually be found in areas that are consistently wet, have abundant amounts of consistent moisture and grow quite well in low-light conditions.
How To Detect & Test Basement Mold
If you’ve ever had a leak in your basement, or your basement contains humid air and condensation, checking for mold may be a good idea.
Even if you can’t immediately see evidence of mold, it could still be growing in places not easily visible to the naked eye.
There are a variety of ways to test for mold ranging from professional to do-it-yourself testing.
When it comes to deciding whether you want to use a do-it-yourself kit or a better off with getting a professional to test your basement, there are several important factors to take into consideration.
While very affordable, do-it-yourself tests are often considered less reliable. Most do-it-yourself tests require you to set a plate out from one to four days.
The idea is that the plate will collect mold spores and yield positive or negative tests results.
The downside to this method is that it’s not nearly as accurate as professional testing. In contrast, professional testing is more expensive, but is often more accurate and may do a better job of knowing how to get rid of the mold in your basement.
A good do-it-yourself home test kit for mold will range from $10 to $100 while the cost of a professional testing for mold can be anywhere from $200 to $1000 depending on the size of the space you want to test.
5 Natural Ways To Remove Basement Mold
There are numerous different ways to get rid of mold, but some chemicals used in the process have the potential to be harmful. Below are a few steps to remove mold naturally.
Make sure the area in which the mold is growing is dry. Mold thrives on moisture, so fixing any leaks, cleaning up water, and ensuring that there’s no humidity in the area should be your first step in removing mold.
After ensuring that the area in which the mold was growing is dry and has plenty of air, your next step should be cleaning the air.
Mold spores can be transported through your HVAC system or air ducts in your home. Because of this, it may be best to use an air purifier to ensure that no mold spores end up in other areas of your basement or anywhere else in your home.
Create a mold cleaning solution to remove and clean the area the mold was on and around.
Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of natural solutions that will successfully remove mold.
Below are several solutions that will remove mold while not spreading harmful chemicals in your home.
Get Rid Of Basement Mold With Vinegar
Vinegar is a well-known household cleaner that does an excellent job of removing visible mold. The best type of vinegar to use for natural mold removal is white vinegar.
White vinegar in a spray bottle doesn’t have to be diluted with anything – you can simply pour it right over the mold. You can also add a bit of baking soda to the mix.
And, the vinegar should have anywhere from two-five minutes to sit on the mold or mildew, at which point it can be wiped off with a cloth or sponge.
In our experience, chlorine bleach is not a safe solution, many professionals do use it, but we couldn’t recommend it as a DIY solution.
Remove Mold In Basement With Tea Tree Oil
Tea-Tree Oil: Conveniently, tea-tree oil is a natural fungicide and is a fantastic solution for removing mold. One of the easiest ways to use tea-tree oil for mold removal is to mix the oil with water.
Shake well to help the oil and water mix together. The next step is to spray where the mold is growing and scrub the surface until the mold starts to disappear.
Eliminate Basement Mold With Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit Seed Extract: An advantageous of grapefruit seed extract is that not only will it remove mold, but it can also be used as mold prevention.
To remove mold with grapefruit seed extract, combine the extract with water and apply to the surface where the mold is. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then wipe off.
Kill Mold In Basement With Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is another easy and non-toxic method for removing mold. Additionally, unlike some other solutions, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use on most fabrics. Hydrogen peroxide should be mixed with water and allowed to sit on area with mold for around ten minutes.
Basement Mold Removal With Borax
Borax: While perhaps not quite as non-toxic as some of the other aforementioned solutions, borax is still a better alternative than stronger chemical solutions and also deodorizes.
Each cup of Borax should be combined with one gallon of water and applied to mold. It’s best to scrub the surface with a sponge or something stiff such as a scrub brush.
Borax does not require rinsing and can be left on surfaces safely.
Basement Mold Growth Inhibitors
Mold Fogging Products: There are numerous mold removing foggers on the market. Foggers are designed to remove mold, reduce mold odors, and prevent mold from growing in the future.
Foggers kill most types of mold including aspergillus, Cladosporium, and fusarium. Foggers can also be used in a variety of different locations, and are especially useful in hard to get to areas such as crawl spaces, basements, and attics.
Here is a short video using Conrobium and Fogging Techniques to Remove Basement Mold
When compared to other commercial mold removing products, mold foggers can be an excellent choice for mold treatment of a large area at one time.
They can also be more cost-efficient and labor proficient in terms of dollars and time saved in handling large mold infested areas.
Basement Mold Removal Methods
Basement Mold Removal through Negative Air Pressure: A negative air pressure machine can be used to prevent the spread of mold to other areas in your home.
Negative air pressures use a process called ducting to suck the air out of a room and filter it outside of the area with mold.
Negative air pressure machines are a good way to ensure that an area is free of mold spores.
Removing Basement Mold with HEPA Vacuuming: HEPA (high-efficiency particle absolute) vacuums can be used for mold removal and are often a great way to ensure that all mold spores and particles have been removed from your basement.
Furthermore, if an area of your basement is highly susceptible to mold, vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum on a semi-regular basis can also help prevent future mold growth.
Removing Mold From Basement Walls
If you’ve found mold on your basement walls, you may be wondering the best way to remove basement mold from concrete/basement wall.
Fortunately, there are numerous safe ways to remove mold from your basement walls.
- Clean your Basement Walls: The first step to removing mold from your basement wall – especially if your wall is concrete – is to clean the wall. Take warm water and soap and scrub any build up or dirt off of the walls.
- Proper Mold Cleaning Product: Once you’ve ensured that your basement walls are clean, it’s now time to use your product of choice for mold removal.
Many of the mold removal solutions mentioned thus far, would be suitable for removing mold from your walls.
And, while many of these mold killers are non-toxic, bleach should always be used with caution while using in non-ventilated areas.
It is also preferred to use a safety mask or other PPE (personal protective equipment) when handling any type of toxic mold cleaning agents.
Whatever mold removal product you decide to use, applying it with a scrub brush to the mold may assist in ensuring that you remove all of the mold and the mold spores from the surface.
Dry your Basement Walls: Mold loves moisture, so after you’ve cleaned your walls and removed mold, your next step should be to dry your walls to ensure the mold doesn’t return from the walls staying damp.
Ventilation is Key to Prevent Basement Mold: Your final step to removing mold from your basement walls is to make sure the area has good ventilation. You can do this by placing a dehumidifier in the area, opening a window, or using a negative air pressure machine.
Basement Mold Removal Cost
If you decide to take a do-it-yourself approach to removing the mold problem in your basement, the cost will depend on the products you use for mold removal.
While getting rid of mold infestation in basement may seem daunting at first, below are a few steps to take to ensure that you’re successful.
Your first step to removing mold in your basement is to figure out what kind of mold you’re dealing with and identify it correctly. Mold inspections is of utter importance.
And, depending on the type of mold in your basement, you’ll need to take special precautions such as wearing a mask or respirator to ensure that you don’t breath in harmful toxins.
Ensure that any air vents are sealed off so that mold spores don’t spread to other areas of your home. Also be sure to check all crawl space in your basement.
Decide which type of mold removal method you’re going to use and get started. As has been mentioned in this article, there are numerous different methods for removal ranging from chemical to natural.
Once you’ve removed the mold, you may want to consider taking extra precautions such as a negative air pressure system or HEPA vacuum.
Take steps to make sure the area has good ventilation. You may want to set up a dehumidifier to try to keep the area non-humid and well ventilated to prevent future mold growth.
Costs of do-it-yourself mold removal can range anywhere from $25 and upwards. The potential costs of your basement mold removal plan will also depend on the type of mold you’re attempting to eradicate.
And, there is a mold removal cost directly dependent upon what kind of equipment is required to remove the fungus.
While removing mold yourself can be significantly cheaper than hiring a professional; it will also depend upon your personal experience, research, capability and all associated risks that you may be facing. When in doubt – call a professional.
Getting Rid Of Mold Smell In Basement
Mold in basement can often leave behind a moldy, musty smell in your basement that can be difficult to get rid. Below are a few methods that may help get rid of any unwanted mold odors.
- The first step to getting rid of a musty smell in your basement is to first remove any mold and ensure that you have no leaks.
- Improving the ventilation in your basement and reducing the humidity – through the use of a dehumidifier – may also help improve the musty smell in your basement.
- If after removing mold and improving ventilation you find that your basement is smelling no better, you may want to enlist the help of a product. There are a large variety of air fresheners that can help make your basement smell better.