Basement Mold Prevention Guide

Why Basement Mold Prevention?

The basement is one of the most common rooms for mold to grow in your home. The reason is that in most basements, especially unfinished, there are mold triggers everywhere. There are usually high humidity levels, several places for condensation, congested spaces, leaks and even floods. The only way to prevent mold in your basement is to create an environment that eliminates these types of moisture-inviting scenarios. Continue reading this article for your basement mold prevention tips and tricks!

Monitor Humidity Levels

Mold has a tendency to grow where there are high levels of moisture. This is mostly because it’s spores are everywhere and those spores only need food, oxygen and moisture to grow and become a problem. Since oxygen and mold’s food is found all over your home, the last ingredient to a moldy basement is moisture. With that being said, basement mold prevention requires humidity control.

Most experts agree that humidity levels should remain between 30 – 60%. Anything above 60% is feeding grounds for mold. You can check humidity levels by purchasing a hydrometer from a local hardware store. If you test the air in your basement and the humidity level is below 60%, you are safe for the time being. However, you should run this test regularly. During summer months, basement humidity levels tend to rise and can easily creep above 60%. On the contrary, if you test the air and the humidity levels are above 60%, you will probably need to purchase a dehumidifier.

  • How to Choose a DehumidifierWhen choosing a dehumidifier, be sure that you are choosing one that is sufficiently sized for your basement. According to Dehumidifier Web, a basement up to 1,500 sq. feet can comfortably use a 30-pint dehumidifier. Their site also has a dehumidifier sizing chart in case your basement is larger than 1,500 sq. feet. When shopping for a dehumidifier, also keep in mind how often you will be able to monitor the water levels. Some dehumidifiers use a draining feature which allows for continuous operation but requires a floor-level water drain. If you don’t have access to a floor-level drain and want to avoid regularly checking the water levels, consider a dehumidifier that pumps water vertically into a sink.

Unclutter

Another important step in basement mold prevention is to keep your basement organized. People around the world use their basement as a storage space for old clothes, shoes, papers, etc. That can turn into a moldy mess if not done correctly. Most of the items that people store into the basement contain porous materials, such as cloth, books, carpet, wooden materials, etc. These items cluttered together will block airflow, reduce ventilation and begin to dampen. When porous materials dampen, they soak and hold the moisture. This creates the perfect environment for mold growth.

The first thing that you should do if you use your basement for storage is to check the piles and clutter regularly for things that can be thrown out. Another method to uncluttering your basement would be to use plastic totes. Plastic totes are made of a non-porous material that will keep the materials inside dry. In My Own Style has some great tips for uncluttering your basement and using plastic totes.

Keep the Rain Out

As you know by now, basement mold prevention is pretty hard when you have moisture. Rain water, and other water sources from outdoors, can become a nightmare if they have access to the basement. If you want to keep the water out, you will have to direct the water away. There are two ways to do this.

  • Make sure that the ground your home sits on slopes away from the property. By making sure that the ground slopes away, you will prevent rain, snow and other water sources, such as lawn sprinklers, from creating puddles against your home. With consistency, sitting water around your home will eventually find or create an access point and begin to leak into your basement. Consider hiring an outdoor maintenance man that can develop a slope in the ground surrounding the property. If you would like to save some money on this, consider making it a do-it-yourself project. Here’s a quick video about creating a slope around your house.
  • Make sure that your downspouts are functioning correctly at all times. Before you worry so much about the downspouts, check your gutters frequently. Keep your gutters free from leaves and other debris so that it efficiently collects and processes the water through the downspout. If you don’t want to check your gutters on a frequent basis, you may want to consider a leaf guard. Another way to enhance your downspout is to install an extension. This is ideal for homes that do not sit on a slope. An extension will direct water even further away from your home and lower the chances of water leaking in.

Ventilation

Healthy air flow throughout the basement will help keep humidity levels down. This is vital for basement mold prevention. You can accomplish a healthy airflow system by regularly using fans and / or opening windows. This will allow humid air to escape and fresh air to come in. Some basements are known to house laundry rooms, full bathrooms and sometimes even full kitchens. If your basement has a dryer, stove, shower or bathing tub, be sure that they all are ventilating outdoors.

For clothes dryers, regularly check to make sure that it is not clogged with lint. Do this by running the dryer, going outdoors and checking to be sure that air is successfully flowing through the vent. If not, you may need to unclog the vent.

Insulation

Insulate cold surfaces within your basement, such as water pipes and windows to prevent condensation. As warm air meets these cold surfaces, the moisture in the air begins to vaporize against the cold surface and create condensation. Eventually this water drips into your floor, window seal or other surfaces that are directly below and creates a mold-friendly situation. The moisture can also re-evaporate and promote high humidity levels. In order to prevent condensation on cold pipes, use an insulation pipe cover. For window insulation, you can use plastic, such as bubble wrap, to seal around the window and prevent the warm air from indoors from getting to the window. Learn how to use bubble wrap as insulation.

Eliminate Plants

Yes, indoor plants have many benefits. However, in a high-humidity environment such as your basement, plants can create the perfect environment for mold growth. Plants and mold share one common need that usually attracts mold. Water. Lots and lots of water. Plant soil provides a great food and water source for mold to grow. Mold growth with the plant can easily spread throughout the basement, especially when the mold spores within the soil becomes disturbed.

Conclusion

Now that you have these basement mold prevention tips to work with, put them to use. At least the ones that works for your home. As a mold remediation company, we have found that most problems are preventable with simple prevention methods. However, once it grows, there’s no going back easily. This guide is to help you become proactive so that you can avoid a damp, moldy basement.