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endi 08-31-2012 05:03 AM

Basement Mold. Please Advise.
Hello, I'm new to the forums though I've come across it many times in google searches and this evening I thought I'd seek some collective wisdom.

I'm planning on refinishing my basement so I thought I would begin removing the wood paneling etc. and see what I'm dealing with. Unfortunately after the third panel I ran into this:

I was concerned so I grabbed some gloves and a mask I used when sanding/finishing the hardwood floors and slowly removed the following panel:

I became more concerned and used duct tape to tape down the edges of the plastic that was covering the growth, as well as covering the hole made for the outlet with trash bag spread out as a patch.

I'm consider either calling a mold removal service or researching more and removing this myself. This is where this community comes in. I've never dealt with mold removal but its not something I'm necessarily afraid to do - unless there is a reason to be.

I seek your collective wisdom and advice, any information would be great. So far I've read several places to make a Borax/Water mixture and spray it over the affected area. Thus far all I've done is tape the section off and hook up a dehumidifier up in the basement.

I appreciate your guidance and advice; here are a few closer photos.

p.s. all electrical in the basement has been turned off at the circuit board; that junction box was news to me - I discovered it in the process of removing drop ceiling and wood paneling.

Thanks for any input. :)


p.p.s. I apologize if the photos are to large. I am a member of several forums and the photo etiquette I'm used to is embedding 800px on the long edge.

danpik 08-31-2012 05:44 AM

Wow, quite a mess you have on your hands. Mold needs to things to grow/survive. It needs a food source (the wood in this case) and it needs water.

The water can come from three sources. A plumbing leak, An external leak, and from humidity. In a basement the humidity can cause a lot of moisture. The cool walls will cause the humidity to condense out on the wall effectivly drying the air. However the moist summer air will continue to humidify the air which causes more water co condense out on the cool walls. The obvious answer is to keep the cool walls away from the warm moist air. My first avenue of investigation would be to figure out the source of the water. Is it a leak or is it just the warm moist air. How is the drainage around the house etc?

My basement was originaly like yours. panneling over furring strips. I did not have plastic so mine may not have trapped the moisture behind the wall as bad but, I did have some mold as well. Prior to remodeling my basemnt I was pulling about 2-3 gallons of water per day from my dehumidifier. After insulation (rigid foam) I am getting about that each week now.

How to deal with the mold is out of my area of expertise so I will let someone who knows more about it coment on that

endi 08-31-2012 07:17 AM


Originally Posted by danpik (Post 1000319)
The water can come from three sources. A plumbing leak, An external leak, and from humidity.

@Danpik Thanks for the direction :)

I myself suspected that an external leak was to blame. There is no plumbing near the affected area nor above it. However with a few registers and wires are reference points, I lined up the apparent source of the water's entry (see photo #3 above) with the entryway to the house. After posting this thread I took a look around the front steps and aside from a complex channel of cracks I can't see, I believe I have found the point of entry:

The storm door is a recent addition in the past year or two, so considering the water damage in the basement is as contained as it is, I assume its helping at the very least. Regardless I'm going to do my best to remedy that crack in the next couple of days.

If anyone has any sources, links or advice on how best to accomplish this, please feel free to post it even though its off the original topic. Thus far I've put Google to work and found this information:

via -> Concrete Crack Repair Guide -> Leaking Concrete Floor -> Leaking floor to wall joint:
"Route out 1/2" deep and fill with ElastiPoxy Crack Filler. Seal the walls with RadonSeal Concrete Sealer."

Obviously they're plugging their products but aside from that, does anyone see any issue with what they've suggested?

I'm planning on chipping away a good 1/2" along the edge all along the width of the metal door seal and pumping it full of an "ElastiPoxy Crack Filler"-like product. In combination with the storm door I believe this should be sufficient in keeping water out of the basement.

Thanks again for any input!

notmrjohn 08-31-2012 03:38 PM

You got more than "that crack." I can't tell from the angle, is that a concrete step up, (I hope) or is it level with those pavers? Either way the whole thing is in bad shape. You've got to first stop water from even getting to the crackS. Water is seeping through that crumbled edge, the cracks , and under. # 3 is the entry point inside the basement, but that's underneath, it could be running to there from somewhere else top side. That uncovered electric box is a nice touch, and so convenient to the water source too. "That crack" is probably the biggest villain, but it may have henchmen. Just patching it from top may not be enuff. Remove the metal threshold (metal door seal) and see what you see, that crack probably runs under it. You'll at least have to chip out along the crack all way to bottom and under cutting ( wider at bottom than top). You may have to remove all concrete under door. Flash it, seal , ( I don't know about the "ElastiPoxy Crack Filler"-like product. There's several, some good some not so.)
About the mold. Not all black mold is BLACK MOLD. But good idea to get pro to look. Preferably one not associated with “mold remediation” company. And if you're gonna hire an independent house inspector, you can get on site advice about “that crack” and other sources of moisture. mold removal is “not something I'm necessarily afraid to do - unless there is a reason to be.”
Fear may not be the word, but you'll be dealing with some pretty caustic chemicals. Borax, household bleach, vinegar etc won't do the job. They kill and clean on non-porous surfaces, so does sunlight, but don't penetrate to the “roots” of the mold inside wood or insulation. You will be wearing a respirator not a cheap filter mask, among other protective gear.. You can see what happened there, moisture and spores got in the seams between paneling, held in place by vapor barrier, mold fed on and penetrated paneling. ( best get that removed paneling out of there, carefully) It likes to grow in the dark..Is there insulation behind the vapor barrier? I hope not. You will have to remove and discard insulation, barrier, paneling, furring. By doing that you will be stirring up mold spores and spreading them you gotta take measures to prevent it.
Then you're gonna treat the basement walls for mold.with something that penetrates the concrete. Then seal walls, apply non porous foam board to walls, Tape all seams and openings( not with duck tape), Now frame interior walls with couple inch gap behind thickness of what ever insulation you will be using sticking out past back of interior wall and foam board on exterior wall. Install non faced insulation in walls, install dry wall, install mold resistant . paneling. What no vapor barrier behind dry wall ? No current thinking is it traps moisture, mold breeds on drywall and paneling. No barrier and untaped dry wall joint allow moisture to escape to dryer basement . Most codes still require that barrier tho, some folks just do a sloppy job installing it, using thinnest code requires, slap dash seam and opening taping, “accidentally” poking holes in it. Its your house, take any short cuts and skip any steps you feel comfortable with.

Gary in WA 09-01-2012 07:37 PM

No poly sheeting on basement walls;

Where are you located?


mayhem69 09-09-2012 07:35 AM


Originally Posted by GBR in WA (Post 1001234)
No poly sheeting on basement walls;

Where are you located?


yea, im no expert but doesnt the poly stuff cause condensation?

Op, i would just find out where the water is getting in, fix it!
scrub all the mold with bleach solution about 3 times.
Run a dehumidifer in the area for quite a while. You should be ok.
I bet most people on the forum have mold in the basement and do not even know it!
As soon as you say "mold", alot of people freak out and want to completely gut the whole room for gods' sakes!
It doesnt look that bad, dont get freaked out, scrub the hell out of it with bleach, and run the dehumidifier.

Maintenance 6 09-10-2012 08:11 AM

Well, you’ll certainly get opinions on mold remediation on this site. The challenge will be separating the fact from the fiction. There are also a ton of websites out there touting magic mold killing potions. Most of these are cleverly worded and play on the average person’s ignorance when it comes to mold, how it grows and what kills it. The saying in the industry is “Mold is Gold”!! First, you need to get an exhaust fan established direct to the outside and pull the airborne mold fragments and spores out before they permeate the rest of the house. Since you already have this open, they have been steadily doing that. Next, you need to remove the effected material, bag it and discard it. Paneling, drywall and trim are not salvageable. What you should have left are structural items that are not easily replaced. Now, the most important part…… you need to control the moisture. Mold needs three things to thrive. An organic food source (wood, paper and dust will do fine). This is pretty much uncontrollable . Temperatures in the range of 40 to 110. Room temperature will do just fine. Finally they need moisture in the range of 60% sustained RH or .6 water content. This is the controllable part. The best remediation effort in the world is for nothing, if the moisture is uncontrolled. Next thing is to scrub down whatever is left with a detergent solution and a scrub brush. Now you are ready to treat. Lots of things kill mold. There are several products out there that make claims one way or another. Phenols, Quaternary Ammonias and Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) all kill mold. None will penetrate porous surfaces any better than the next (read the fine print). Even the magic mold potions will use one of these compounds, often with a few other “secret ingredients” added. If you choose bleach, use 10% maximum. Borax is a good cleaner for the scrub down, but it would not be on my list as a treatment. Thoroughly treat the area going 12 inches past the last signs of mold. Let all of this completely dry. Dehumidify to speed the process if you must. Finally, seal the treated surfaces. A few companies sell sealers specifically for mold work. They usually include a mold inhibiter in their formula, but this isn’t particularly necessary. Kilz or something like it will work fine. The sealer will improve the appearance, but more importantly, it locks down any stray mold fragments or settled spores.
A few more things: No normal, healthy person has ever been documented as having died from mold. That said, wear your respirator anyway. Molds produce some nasty chemical compounds as part of their life cycle, but usually in such small amounts that they have little impact (bread molds are some of the worst). You don’t want to be sucking the crappy stuff into your lungs anyway.
Remember, you are dealing with mold here, not some bulletproof alien. Lots of things will kill it. Almost none of those can be made to penetrate into a porous material and be effective.
The end result is only as good as the diligence you use in performing the work.
Good luck

chrisn 09-10-2012 05:06 PM

and there^ you have it!:thumbsup:

notmrjohn 09-13-2012 10:12 AM

What he^ said. In recognition of such a fine answer, maintenance is awarded a big wheel of imported blue cheese.
But, didn't you ever see Attack of the Mold People, in which normal, healthy people are set upon out of the shady darkness by... no, that was the Mole People. ...Mold People is about the shady characters who discovered the Pot of Gold Mold, rent some space suits at the costume shop, slap some hazardous chemical stickers over the Clorox label, and charge you a fortune to show up and splash it around.

Maintenance 6 09-13-2012 02:58 PM

There's a time and place for the moon suits and a time when it is overkill. If the home is occupied by someone very young or very old or anyone with an immune system that is compromised or anybody with a respiratory disease, then you need the pro's. Almost anything else can be done by someone with a little real knowledge, not the kind you get from "Magic Mold" web sites. To be successful, you have to be thorough and you can't skip steps.

A little trivia: Blue cheese is created by penicillium molds. (The blue stains come from the mycotoxins emitted from the molds.) Ranch dressing is too. Bread, baked goods and most importantly, Beer are all created by a certain class of fungi related to mold....... yeast.

I once had a clearance air sample on a mold job screwed up by a worker sprinkling ranch dressing on his lunch too close to an air monitor, so yeah mold spores travel everywhere. :whistling2:

notmrjohn 09-13-2012 06:06 PM

mmmmmm beer. I was gonna mention asthma and allergies and stuff. The mold doesn't make them worse, and isn't any more dangerous to folks who have them,but like too much of anything floating in air it can bring on an attack. As can dust created in clean up. But I figured people who have asthma, allergy, cope already know that.
Lady up the street was all proud that she had these highly trained technical experts come out to get rid of the Black Mold she found while redoing bathroom. Mold scare was at its height. She really felt like she was part of the in crowd. Space suits, hoses taking liquids in, bigger hoses suckin air out, big pumps and fans in a big shiny van, kids standin around gawkin, envious adults ignoring out corner of their eye. next morning she gets up to see bleached out shoe cover shaped foot prints across the carpet. Technical experts musta been highly trained during drive to the job. Most of those fly-by-nighters are out of that biz, doing foundation repairs now. Did somebody mention beer?

Maintenance 6 09-14-2012 06:45 AM

Make no mistake. People with certain health issues are at risk for fungal infections caused by some types of molds. Particularly Aspergillus molds which are common on damp building products. The problem we have here and now is that medical academia agree that mold does something, but none can agree on what. On one hand are those that say mold is akin to the bubonic plague and must be avoided at all cost and on the other are those that say we have been living around mold since man resided in dank moldy caves and we have survived. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth, but until enough dollars are hurled at it, there will be no set standards. And there may never be. What is harmful to you may be acceptable to me. Media hype has taken the place of common sense when it comes to mold in this country. Do a google search for "mold and Erin Brachovich" and it's easy to see why. Not all of the "fly-by nighters" have gone into the foundation business either. I still see or hear of plenty of botched remediation jobs. Even by some of the big damage clean up chains. The indusrty is pretty much unregulated and has no particular standards of performance, so quite a few asbestos abatement guys got into it with little or no real training...... "Mold is Gold".

Now about that beer.......................:thumbup:

notmrjohn 09-14-2012 10:40 AM

Forget the beer. if we can breed the mold to feed off asbestos we'll be drinking imported champagne! bleh! Don't open no more sham pag nee, use the bottles to prop up the house and open up some beer.
How you comin along down there in the basement, endi? Hurry up and there might still be some beer left when you finish.

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