Having a basement in your home has many advantages. Not only can it serve as extra storage space, but you can also remodel it into a whole new room. Not to mention that a finished basement can increase the value of your home if you decide to sell it someday. However, every basement fights a constant battle with its enemies – mold and mildew. Do you know that musty smell often associated with basements? It’s probably caused by mold and mildew that grow and develop in warm, damp places. Apart from presenting a potential health risk, they can also cause damage to your home and belongings. In this article, we’ve prepared useful tips on how to prevent mold and mildew in a basement and create a functional and pleasant extra space in your home.
What are mold and mildew, and how do they affect our health?
Mold and mildew are types of fungi we encounter every day. These tiny organisms send out spores that can reproduce rather quickly when they find a suitable place. While they have many useful traits and play important roles in nature, having them inside your home is not a good idea.
They thrive in wet, damp places where they have plenty of organic matter (such as paper, cardboard, and wood) to feed on and enough room to grow. For these reasons, basements are their ideal habitats. Unfinished or rarely used basements are especially prone to this type of problem. Therefore, renovating your basement might be the right call.
Not only do mold and mildew look unsightly and have an unpleasant smell, but they also can cause several health problems. Some people are allergic to their spores and can experience eye and throat irritation, headache, fatigue, or dizziness. Depending on their kind, mold and mildew can also cause asthma or even more severe health issues.
To prevent mold and mildew in a basement, first, discover what causes them
As we’ve mentioned, mold and mildew need a lot of moisture and humidity, food, and room to grow and reproduce. Unfortunately, most basements provide these conditions in abundance. In order to prevent mold and mildew in a basement, it’s essential to discover all possible sources of excess moisture.
There are plenty of outdoor moisture causes that can lead to mold finding its home in your basement. Here are some of the most common ones:
- heavy rain that comes into your basement through windows
- groundwater that accumulates and seeps inside through the foundation
- clogged gutters
If you’re planning to create a man cave or a superb wine cellar in your basement, you definitely want to avoid sharing space with mold and mildew. Therefore, check out these interior sources of extra moisture and deal with them in time:
- an improper airflow
- leaky pipes
- overloading your basement with stuff
- ineffective insulation
Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prevent mold and mildew from showing up in your basement.
Check for leaks
First and foremost, it’s crucial to prevent any water from accumulating in your basement. Check your home from the outside for possible cracks in the foundation or basement walls. They can be a cause of mold, and they are much easier to tackle while they’re small. If you notice any condensation or puddles of water, track them to their source and ensure you deal with it properly.
Remove the organic materials
Mold and mildew feed on organic materials, and these are readily available in most basements. For that reason, your belongings must be safely stored. Paper, old clothes, and carpets, as well as cardboard boxes in which they are probably packed, are exactly what mold needs to grow.
Find cheap plastic moving bins (maybe you already have some left from moving in) and store your belongings in them instead. Bins that are practical and affordable are an excellent solution for mold prevention. Plus, they’ll keep your things in perfect condition and neatly stored as well.
Insulate your basement’s walls, pipes, and windows
Also, check for leaks inside your basement. For example, many basements have pipes running along with the ceiling or down the walls. It’s a good idea to insulate them with foam pipe wrap (pipe sleeves) to prevent both water damage and mold formation. The same applies to walls and windows – good insulation will minimize the possibility of mold and mildew appearing in your basement.
Store your belongings with care
If you’re using your basement mainly for in-house storage, you’re probably constantly on the lookout for tricks to get more space. However, make sure you don’t overload your basement with excess stuff. Keep your belongings a bit away from the wall and ensure enough airflow between the items.
Add a dehumidifier
Mold and mildew thrive when humidity is over 60%. Therefore, if the weather is often warm and humid where you live, installing a dehumidifier is an excellent idea. Even if you live in a more temperate climate, warm air from the upper parts of the house tends to circulate down into the basement and create condensation. Use a hydrometer to measure and keep track of humidity. That way, you’ll know if adding a dehumidifier to your home is a good idea.
Final tips for securing your basement against the mold
Lastly, pay some attention to the outdoors of your home. If the ground is on the same level or higher than your house, that makes it more likely for rain and groundwater to enter your basement. A bit of creative and practical landscaping and regularly cleaning the gutters can solve that problem.
Ensure the ground slopes down away from the house and plant any decorative shrubbery about three feet from the house. That will prevent water flowing toward your home and plant roots from creating pathways for water to get into your basement.
No one wants their home to be an unattractive and unhealthy place to live in. Although many things can cause a problem, there are also plenty of ways to prevent them from happening. We hope you’ll find these ideas to prevent mold and mildew in a basement helpful and create a healthy and comfortable space for your family.
About The Author: John Spencer is a construction worker with decades of experience. When he is not working on various home projects and renovations, he enjoys writing about home improvement ideas and updates.
Photo by Michael & Diane Weidner on Unsplash
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