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Old 06-04-2011, 06:45 PM   #1
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How to - prevent basement mold


10 Ways to Prevent Basement Mold

Basement mold is a common problem in homes that have damp, dark basements. Mold is a fungus, which grows fast in moist, humid conditions. Once it establishes its presence in your basement, this problem is very difficult to get rid of. Mold causes several health problems such as asthma, infections, cough, rashes, congestion and allergies. The best way to prevent mold 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 humidifier.

1. Monitor Humidity Levels
High humidity levels provide the perfect growing environment for mold. You must ensure that humidity levels within your home, especially the basement, are within acceptable levels. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level. A humidity percentage of 45 or more is high, and can be conducive to growth of mold.

2. Use a Dehumidifier
If you detect high moisture levels in the basement, invest in a good quality dehumidifier. This appliance is quite effective in keeping humidity levels under check.
Dehumidifiers come in different sizes and price range. Research what is best for your particular situation.

3. Avoid Growing Plants Indoors
Plants grown in the basement provide a good diet for mold and mildew. Only grow plants in sunny, airy locations in your home. Avoid the basement for cultivation of any sorts.

4. Reduce Congestion in the Basement
Try to keep your basement free of clutter. Too many objects and storage items block the free flow of air, and reduce ventilation. Items such as clothes and books stored in the basement provide food on which mold and mildew thrive. If you do not have an option, store minimal quantities of such items, away from direct contact with the floor or walls. Plastic tubs is a great storage idea for your basement.

5. Avoid Storing Wood in the Basement
Wood is another ideal habitat for mold to grow in. Never store wood in the basement. An open, airy location is the best choice for storing wood.

6. Ensure that Water is Directed Away From Your Home
The boundary around your home must be sloped in such a way that snow and rain are directed away from the house. If not, water and moisture will pool around the structure, and increase moisture and leakage problems. In such a situation, mold is almost inevitable. If it is hard to redirect the water away from your home, you may need to look into putting French drains in.

7. Take Care of Spills and Leaks Immediately
If there are any leaks in the basement, sometimes because of heavy rain, take care of it immediately. Wipe the water from the area and dry it thoroughly. Use of a dehumidifier and heater will accelerate the drying process. Also investigate the requirement of further insulation for your walls.

8. Insulate Water Pipes in the Basement
Generally, cold water pipes in the basement show condensation of water on the exterior. Insulating such pipes reduces the humidity levels in the basement.

9. Use an Exhaust Fan
Air out stale, humid air and allow the intake of fresh air with the use of an exhaust fan. Try to open doors and windows to the basement regularly.

10. Reduce Humidifying Factors
Avoid drying wet clothes in the basement. Make sure appliances such as dryers, stoves, heaters and air conditioners exhaust to the outside, or else the humidity can rise significantly. Avoid carpets and wood flooring in the basement.

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Old 06-05-2011, 10:03 PM   #2
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How to - prevent basement mold


You might also try sealing concrete block if your basement is built with such. If you have a studded basment that is unfinished, you could insulate and add a vapor barrier(ie plastic sheeting).

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Old 06-06-2011, 02:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazymountain View Post
10 Ways to Prevent Basement Mold

Basement mold is a common problem in homes that have damp, dark basements. Mold is a fungus, which grows fast in moist, humid conditions. Once it establishes its presence in your basement, this problem is very difficult to get rid of. Mold causes several health problems such as asthma, infections, cough, rashes, congestion and allergies. Mold does NOT cause these problems. It may exacerbate the severity for those that alrready suffer from those issues, but has NOT been proven to be the cause.The best way to prevent mold 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 humidifier.

1. Monitor Humidity Levels
High humidity levels provide the perfect growing environment for mold. You must ensure that humidity levels within your home, especially the basement, are within acceptable levels. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level. A humidity percentage of 45 or more is high, and can be conducive to growth of mold. Common household molds that form on building surfaces generally require 60% or greater RH or .6 water content.

2. Use a Dehumidifier
If you detect high moisture levels in the basement, invest in a good quality dehumidifier. This appliance is quite effective in keeping humidity levels under check.
Dehumidifiers come in different sizes and price range. Research what is best for your particular situation. A dehumidifier should be a last resort. Locate any specific moisture sources and correct them as required. Then retest moisture levels

3. Avoid Growing Plants Indoors
Plants grown in the basement provide a good diet for mold and mildew. Mildew is a specific type of mold that thrives on the leaves of living plants, but nowhere else. Common leaf molds are classes of mildew. Only grow plants in sunny, airy locations in your home. Avoid the basement for cultivation of any sorts.

4. Reduce Congestion in the Basement
Try to keep your basement free of clutter. Too many objects and storage items block the free flow of air, and reduce ventilation. Items such as clothes and books stored in the basement provide food on which mold and mildew thrive. Any organic material is mold food. If you do not have an option, store minimal quantities of such items, away from direct contact with the floor or walls. Plastic tubs is a great storage idea for your basement. Plastic tubs can become mold incubators by trapping moisture. Especially when placed on cold floors where latent moisture can condense in the materials inside the tub.

5. Avoid Storing Wood in the Basement
Wood is another ideal habitat for mold to grow in. Never store wood in the basement. An open, airy location is the best choice for storing wood.

6. Ensure that Water is Directed Away From Your Home
The boundary around your home must be sloped in such a way that snow and rain are directed away from the house. If not, water and moisture will pool around the structure, and increase moisture and leakage problems. In such a situation, mold is almost inevitable. If it is hard to redirect the water away from your home, you may need to look into putting French drains in.

7. Take Care of Spills and Leaks Immediately
If there are any leaks in the basement, sometimes because of heavy rain, take care of it immediately. Wipe the water from the area and dry it thoroughly. Use of a dehumidifier and heater will accelerate the drying process. Also investigate the requirement of further insulation for your walls.

8. Insulate Water Pipes in the Basement
Generally, cold water pipes in the basement show condensation of water on the exterior. Insulating such pipes reduces the humidity levels in the basement.

9. Use an Exhaust Fan
Air out stale, humid air and allow the intake of fresh air with the use of an exhaust fan. Try to open doors and windows to the basement regularly. Cross flow ventilation will reduce moisture under the right conditions. Be certain that you are not introducing cold air into the space that may accelerate condensation.

10. Reduce Humidifying Factors
Avoid drying wet clothes in the basement. Make sure appliances such as dryers, stoves, heaters and air conditioners exhaust to the outside, or else the humidity can rise significantly. Avoid carpets and wood flooring in the basement.
11. Keep the area clean. Common household dust is gourmet mold food.
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Old 06-07-2011, 04:44 PM   #4
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How to - prevent basement mold


This gets harder in old houses (mine was built in the late 1800s) that have had a lot of tenants, and not a lot of upkeep.

Also, Maintenance 6, you say that cold air exacerbates mold conditions? Why is that? I've been told to keep a fan constantly running to prevent mold from growing in a relatively damp area.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:30 AM   #5
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Agree. It is more of a challenge in older buildings. What I said was that cross flow ventilation will reduce moisture in the right conditions. What you don't want to do is to deliberately inject cold air into a damp space and drive temperatures down below dew point. You then risk creating condensation which increases the risk for mold.
Molds that grow on common houshold materials need three things to thrive. An organic food source: paper, wood, leather, cotton, household dust, etc. In a normal house, it is very difficult to control the food source, although keeping things clean will help. Second it needs temperatures in the 40-100 degree range (not to be confused with certain food molds that will live in lower temperatures). It is practically impossible to control molds by temperature. Third, they need moisture in the 60-99% relative humity range or .6 water content. This is really the only condition that you can readily control.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:28 AM   #6
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How to - prevent basement mold


In a basement, avoid fiber glass because it can be a breeding ground for mold since it holds (not absorbs) moisture (condensation, leaks, etc.) and collects dust and dirt from the air and from construction that just feed the mold.

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Old 06-13-2011, 06:15 AM   #7
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Kilz is a sealer, not a fungicide. It is good for sealing areas after they have been cleaned and disinfected but is not a treatment by itself.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:09 PM   #8
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Good information. We live in the damp woods of the pacific northwest so these tips will come in handy. Keeping mold away can be nearly a fulltime job in this neck of the woods.
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Old 07-15-2011, 12:46 AM   #9
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I purchased a dehumidifier that is larger than needed for my home because I've read that they're far more efficient than smaller ones with regards to electricity usage. However, this is a unit whose fan runs all the time to monitor the humidity level. Not only is it loud, its also soaking up electricity by running all the time.

Does anyone use timers on their dehumidifiers? I feel like its a waste to run it 24/7. Whats a proper humidity level? I find that my basement bathroom's toilet tank sweats unless I set my dehumidifier to around %35 humidity. I could insulate the tank itself but I've read that isn't really a long term solution?
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:13 AM   #10
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30-60 percent is an average range for living space. Some people install a mixing valve on the supply line going to toilets to add a small amount of hot water. This tempers the supply water to room temperature to eliminate the sweating. Even without it, the sweating will stop when the tank reaches a temperature above dew point.
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:47 AM   #11
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I was told by a friend that building codes in Canada include ventilation requirements that all but eliminate mold. I have been trying to find this without success. I have a home built in 1889 that was built on a "stone wall" foundation. I hired a guy who scraped all of the walls, hand packed cement into all of the holes, sprayed a sealer over the walls and then applied some kind of "cement" spray that has now done a fantastic job of almost totally eliminating any water. We have since painted every wall / floor with "floor" paint, and so far it seems to be working. (I still have a hole in the floor where a sump pump used to go, but I am planning on sealing that with cement.) I put clear plastic covers over most of the window wells on one side, but now I realize that that will make ventilation problematic. I am still going to try and set up fans, as a more economical way of reducing moisture than the dehumidifier which could cost a ton. I am also intrigued by the ionizers and other devices to kill spores. Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:16 AM   #12
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I really cannot help you with Canadian ventilation requirements. I highly doubt that they are so good as to "eliminate" any concern for mold, although proper ventilation will go a very long way in contolling moisture which in turn is essential to preventing mold. Devices which claim to kill mold spores have not been shown to be particularly effective in the real world. The most likely place for mold to form is in corners and crevices, where air is stagnant and likely to have higher humidity levels. Devices that modify the air, such as ionizers and ozone generators do not effectively reach places where air flow is minimal, such as these same corners and crevices. Proper ventilation will tend to flush the treated air anyway. Keeping humidity and moisture levels under control is your best bet.
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Old 07-20-2011, 03:01 PM   #13
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You might also try sealing concrete block if your basement is built with such. If you have a studded basment that is unfinished, you could insulate and add a vapor barrier(ie plastic sheeting).
Not a great idea to cover a wall cavity with plastic in a basement space. moisture enter from the exterior in to the wall cavity and has nowhere to go. It collects inside the wall and harbors the growth of mold. Basements need to breath...

Vapor barriers (or significant retarders a.k.a Class I or II) should never be used in a basement space unless they are directly applied to the exterior concrete/masonry walls surface. I don't even like that, but if you're insistent on it, that's the best place for it.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:54 AM   #14
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I was told by a friend that building codes in Canada include ventilation requirements that all but eliminate mold. I have been trying to find this without success. I have a home built in 1889 that was built on a "stone wall" foundation. I hired a guy who scraped all of the walls, hand packed cement into all of the holes, sprayed a sealer over the walls and then applied some kind of "cement" spray that has now done a fantastic job of almost totally eliminating any water. We have since painted every wall / floor with "floor" paint, and so far it seems to be working. (I still have a hole in the floor where a sump pump used to go, but I am planning on sealing that with cement.) I put clear plastic covers over most of the window wells on one side, but now I realize that that will make ventilation problematic. I am still going to try and set up fans, as a more economical way of reducing moisture than the dehumidifier which could cost a ton. I am also intrigued by the ionizers and other devices to kill spores. Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?
I live in Canada and I can tell you that I've seen housing developments put up in the last 10 yrs that still use a fiberglass blanket with a vapour barrier built in to it that insulates the top 4 ft of basement walls. I guess it really depends on the builder as to whether they are up to date on the latest techniques or not. A lot of them won't change until the building code does, so the minimum gets done to pass inspection.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:31 PM   #15
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Hello,

Does it make a difference if a cool or warm mist humidifier is used in the basement?

Thanks,

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