Basements spaces are damp and dark areas, and some have poor ventilation & high moisture content. These conditions provide a favorable environment for the rapid growth of mold– even when the basements are kept clean.
If your basement has recently fallen victim to mold infestation, we provide you with an easy-to-follow guide on how to remove these harmful fungi & prevent them from spreading.
Common Causes of Mold in Basement
1. Lack of Ventilation
This is one of the most common causes of condensation, which creates humidity & moisture buildup that results in the formation of mold in basements, or any other area where air doesn’t vent or circulate properly.
2. Water Leakages
Molds are common in areas exposed to water, and basements are often the sites for frequent water leaks. The main cause of basement leaks is a faulty or damaged foundation. Moreover, if a basement has windows, water can accumulate in the window wells and result in leaks.
Note: Mold on windows can also be as a result of the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the glass.
3. Water Heater
Failure: A small water leak on the heater can cause standing water & moisture in the basement, and this may eventually lead to the formation of mold.
4. Sump Pump
Failure: Sump pump collects extra water accumulating around your home’s foundation and then send it elsewhere. If your sump pump fails, expect serious water damage & mold.
- Excessive moisture in the basement.
- Flash flood
- Gutters ending too-close-to the house.
- A dryer that is not vented to the outside.
- Improperly graded soil around the house.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Remove Mold from Basement
Proper preparation is critical. Here are the things you’ll need:
- 5-gallon buckets
- Spray bottles
- A respirator
- Plastic sheeting- 4mm thickness minimum.
- Paper towels or disposable rags
- Large garbage bags.
- Latex or rubber gloves
- Baking Soda
- Non-ammonia liquid dish detergent.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Measuring cup
- Diluted bleach
- Commercial-grade HEPA vacuum
- Broom or scrub brush
- A bucket
Step 1: Put on Protective Gear
It’s important to wear protective gear since the process involved in inspecting the areas for mold is likely to stir up airborne spores. We recommend that you wear long gloves that extend to the middle of your forearms and old clothing.
Then put on a good household maintenance ventilation mask such as N95 respirator mask and ensure that you follow the instructions that came with it. Also, wear goggles without ventilation holes.
Step 2: Inspect the Affected Areas
Look for contaminated surfaces not only on the exposed areas, but also in the cracks and crevices. Inspect potential mold near the intake of your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning System) and determine whether the inside of air ducts have unpleasant smell or visible signs of mold growth (white, brown, gray, black, yellow or green splotches).
- Whenever you find mold, make sure that you spread the search farther than the original spot.
- If there are no signs of mold on your HVAC system and no one in your family has unexplained illness or allergy symptom, your air ducts are most likely not contaminated.
- But if you suspect contamination or if you find mold in your HVAC system, then you’ll have to turn it OFF.
Step 3: Determine Whether You Need the Services of a Professional Mold Remover
If the mold is growing in basement spaces that you feel uncomfortable handling or if it covers the entire basement, you can contact a professional mold removal service. Get online and check reviews or obtain a referral from a relative, friend or a qualified mold remediation contractor.
But if you think that you can handle the task at hand, move to step 4.
Step 4: Ensure Proper Working Conditions & Remove
Before you can start cleaning the mold, you need to increase ventilation in the working area as much as you can. Open doors & windows and use fans. Then take any moveable items outside to inspect them.
- Wash & dry contaminated clothing
- Deep clean wood, leather & inorganic furniture
- Clean the carpet using a vacuum with a HEPA filter & let the wet carpet dry outside in the sunshine or turn fans on to dry it.
- Throw away disposable items such as cardboard boxes
- Plastic, metals & other moisture-resistant materials are safe so you can just wash them down with borax or bleach and air dry in the sun.
Note: Make sure that every item is cleaned thoroughly before you can return it to the basement- of course, that’s after you’ve finished cleaning the basement mold.
Step 5: Choose a Cleaning Agent & Apply it to Moldy Areas/ Items
We recommended that you perform a small test on each item/ basement space you want to clean just to make sure that the cleaning agent doesn’t damage it. You can clean mold with diluted bleach, undiluted vinegar, diluted borax, 3% hydrogen peroxide or a baking soda. Based on the method you choose, you can use a spray bottle or a bucket to hold the solution.
5.1.For Porous Surfaces:
Mix ten parts bleach, 1-part of non-ammonia, liquid dish detergent and 20-parts water.
5.2.For Hard Hard Surfaces:
- Combine 1-part bleach to 16-parts water or a cup of bleach with a gallon of water.
- Borax is safe for both porous and nonporous materials. Just mix a cup (225mL) of borax with a gallon (4L) of water.
- If you want to use a baking powder, combine a quarter to half teaspoon (1 to 2mL) of baking soda with a full spray bottle of water. You can also mix a half cup (118mL) of baking soda with a cup (250mL) of water and 1-tablespoon (15mL) of mild liquid detergent.
Once you’ve selected the best cleaning agent, use a sponge or a spray bottle to apply it on the moldy areas (walls, windows, pipes, and other permanent fixtures) and then allow it to sit for 5-to-15 minutes.
Step 6: Scrub & Rinse the Area
Using a scrub brush and your preferred cleaning agent, break down the mold in the affected areas (walls, windows, wood framing, etc.). Ensure that you get into the hard to see spaces like crevices and cracks.
Also, make sure that you rinse the brush often to avoid re-contamination. Use a broom to clean the floors & hard to reach spots and even switch to cloths if needed.
Now the mold is dead and must be removed from the property. Use a clean sponge to wipe down the scrubbed area with water. Change the sponge as well as the rinse water regularly to keep it as clean as possible.
Once the area dries, check whether you’ve missed any mold and if you can see signs of the harmful fungi, repeat the scrubbing & rinsing.
Step 7: Prevent Mold Spreading By Eliminating Excess
Humidity, Any Leaks & Condensation
1. Control Humidity & Remove Any Condensation: Mold forms in humid areas. So you need to increase the amount of ventilation by running dehumidifiers and air conditioners. You can also use oscillating fans and open doors & windows.
2.Check the Air
Conditioning Pan & Duct: You need to clean the condensation pan under the coil of your central AC using a 1/2 percent bleach solution. Make sure that the continuous drain is functioning and seal any leaky duct joints with flexible mastic. Always clean the AC condensation pan before every cooling session.
3. Check Gutters & Fix the Pipes
Your gutters should discharge water at least 6-feet away from the exterior walls. If that isn’t the case, you can install gutter extenders.
Also, look for leaky pipes, valves and faucets of the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basement and repair them if needed. Moreover, your sump pump should be discharging water at least 20 feet away from your home.
4.Check Your Appliances for Proper Venting & Drainage
All your large appliances such as dryer and washer should be properly vented. Your washing machine must have secure hose connections and floor drain. You can also install a pan for overflow right under the machine. These will help prevent mold from growing.
5.Check Your Home Perimeter
Make sure that the ground slopes away from your house. This helps prevent water from pooling up against the foundation. Remove wet leaves against the exterior walls and never allow debris to accumulate there.
6.Make Sure that You’ve Proper Insulation & Waterproofing
Ensure that your roof is insulated and that there are no leaks in your ceiling or roof. Minimize condensation by insulating windows using proper flash & caulking. Also waterproof & insulate exterior walls and fill in cracks with waterproof filler.
7. Replace Vinyl Wall Coverings
Vinyl wallcoverings trap humid air, encouraging the formation of mold. Remove them, clean the area, and then use paint or install wall coverings with permeable paper backings.
8. Cover Bare Earth Flooring:
Unfinished crawlspaces and basements with bare earth flooring are well known for transmitting a lot of moisture. You can cover the area with 6-mil poly sheeting or have flooring put in and prevent mold from growing. Always ensure that the basement is humidified, heated or cooled equally with the rest of the house.
A few people have been complaining that mold keeps returning even after thorough DIY cleaning. Note that the problem will be resolved only after you’ve eliminated all the causes of mold.
The harmful fungi need a source (spores), darkness, hospitable temperature, water and food (biodegradable building products, dead insects, etc.). Just take your time in eliminating these factors as you treat, rinse, dry, repair and decorate your basement and you’ll get rid of mold completely.