Mold can be the cause of a whole host of health problems. Here is why it grows in basements and crawl spaces, and what you can do to protect your family.
What Causes Mold In Houses And Homes?
1. Humidity Problems
The main cause of mold is excessive humidity. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, humidity might be a regular part of life. You would need to bring in a company to assess damage caused by mold or mildew, and then make an action plan to solve it.
But, a simple humidity test should tell you what stage you are in, what the risks are, and how to back out of those risks safely. For example, a high humidity level of 70 percent indoors is bad. If it is in a confined space with paper, drywall, or flooring materials containing wood or even plastics, you have a significantly increased risk of mold development.
2. High Mold Spore Count
The other factor that contributes to mold risk is mold spores. Now, mold spores are everywhere in the air. But, they are higher during certain times of the year. Some weather apps can help you determine what the expected mold spore count is in the area where you live. Make sure you are monitoring your home and the general area at least once a week. From there, it is all about managing humidity and air exchange.
How To Remove Mold?
1. Seal Surfaces
- Seal up surfaces with paint. It will kill off surface mold and give you a good primer to paint on.
- Spray down all surfaces with a 50-50 vinegar solution. Let the vinegar solution sit on the surface for up to 10 minutes. It will remove dirt and mold.
2. Control Water And Moisture
- Install a dehumidifier in the main rooms of your home.
- Consider putting one in the basement or crawlspace as well.
- Keep the humidity in the crawl space below 50 percent. Ideally, you will want it at about 30 percent to control mold.
- Dehumidifiers do need to be emptied periodically, so do not forget to maintain them. During the summer months, they will need to be emptied more frequently than in the winter.
3. Kill Existing Mold
Kill existing mold with bleach, mold killing primer, and vinegar. Bleach is heavy-duty and should kill nearly any kind of mold problem you are having. But, it can also be extremely harsh on surfaces. If you are treating porous surfaces, avoid bleach and ammonia and instead use a specialized mold killing formula (most hardware stores and home improvement centers carry them).
You may need to treat surfaces several times before the mold is killed off completely. For mold issues that are not surface mold-related, you may need to do extensive demolition to get at the heart of the problem.
For example, if your mold can be seen on the drywall surface, but it looks extensive, it may be more than just surface mold. Tear down the drywall and look underneath. This is necessary when you have already tried a surface treatment and it’s come back.
For problems in your crawl space, you will need to set up a ventilation system. Inhaling mold spores can make you very sick. Set up fans underneath the house, get safety equipment for working with mold (face-mask, and protective clothing), and lay down a protective plastic sheet to work on.
Aside from chemical applications, you may need to physically scrape off the mold if it is adhered to the joists. Even with chemical applications, you still want to remove it from the surface so it does not grow back.
Mold that has been around for a while is well-established and may be very difficult to remove. You may need a surface blaster. It is basically a sand blaster that removes mold and debris from all surfaces using sand or small particles.
4. Fixing The Place Up
There are other things you can do, in addition to the usual fixes.
- First, inspect your plumbing. Are there any leaks that you can prevent? Even if it is a minor leak, it is a source of water that has a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
- Seal in crawl space vents and install weather stripping around all basement windows. Leave no window untouched.
- Monitor areas that are high mold suspects, like the inside of cabinets near the sinks, the floor around the toilet base, areas under appliances like dishwashers. Finally, keep all walls and floors clean – even ceiling fans.
- Using a simple solution of vinegar in a spray bottle (and wiping it down with paper towels) will help mold at bay.