How to Prevent Mold From Growing in Your Basement and Crawl Space
Your basement creates the perfect breeding ground for mold due to a range of factors. From higher humidity and poor ventilation to plumbing pipes and HVAC ducts, mold growth can be a real issue. Other factors like insufficiently placed gutters and unhandled stormwater could also contribute to the problem. To maintain a mold-free environment, knowing the top culprits and how to prevent them is crucial. Keep in mind that even with the best preventative measures, there may still be extenuating circumstances that may cause mold growth.
Important: If you suspect that you already have mold in your basement, make sure to call a mold inspection company to test for mold growth. Once mold has been removed from your basement, you’ll be able to start with preventative measures to keep mold from growing again.
9 Common Causes of Mold Growth in Your Basement and Crawlspaces
Mold growth in basements and crawlspaces can be a major issue for any homeowner, causing not only unsightly stains but also health concerns. But by understanding the common causes of mold growth, it is possible to take measures to reduce the chance of it taking root in your home. Keep in mind that a Properly Certified Mold inspector/Hygienist can still be your best guide.
Here are nine of the most common causes of mold growth:
1. Flood Damage
If there’s flooding in your home’s basement or crawl space, the potential for mold growth is very high. Any standing water that isn’t cleared up within a day can become a perfect environment for mold growth. In addition, any items stored in your basement that have been dampened by the floodwater become a great place for mold to grow. If there is anything damp left in your basement, it can potentially create a humid environment that mold favors, and you can end up with a black mold infestation. After your basement floods, mold inspection and testing is a great way to prevent a large amount of mold growth from occurring without your notice.
2. An Unvented Dryer
Many people choose to keep their washers and dryer in their basements. This in and of itself is fine, but having an improperly vented dryer can mean that the moisture evaporating from your clothing ends up in your basement. This moisture will build up and create a suitable environment for mold growth over time. Ensure that wherever your dryer is, it is properly vented to release moisture outside, where you won’t have to worry about mold growth.
3. Condensation Buildup
Condensation is a common occurrence in our homes during the colder months, and it could be more problematic than you think. The accumulation of condensation in certain areas can lead to the growth of mold spores, which can be harmful to our health. The warm, moist air from our homes rising and cooling off against cold surfaces creates a perfect environment for mold to thrive. It is important to keep a close eye on areas prone to staying damp, such as your basements and crawlspaces, to prevent mold from taking hold.
4. Improperly Installed Gutter Downspouts
The purpose of your gutter system is to catch the water that is running off of your home and direct it away and into your yard. However, if there are improperly installed portions of your gutter system that end up leading water toward your home’s foundation and basement, you can encounter issues with water seeping into your basement. Excess water will then create a humid environment that leads to the potential for mold growth, as any good mold inspection company will inform you.
5. Badly Ventilated Bathrooms
If you have a bathroom in your basement, there’s a possibility that moisture will collect because of the shower. If you don’t have a proper ventilation system installed in the bathroom, the humidity created from a hot shower can become trapped in the basement and dampen the walls and items in the bathroom over time, creating the ideal conditions for mold growth. If you have a full bathroom in your basement, make sure to check how the ventilation system works.
6. Poor or Improper Ventilation
A bathroom is not the only time that you need proper ventilation in your basement. Even an average unfinished basement needs to have proper ventilation. It’s not possible to completely get rid of the moisture in your basement, so instead, you have to think about how to prevent that moisture from collecting and causing issues. Having good airflow and ventilation can help prevent this since water is more likely to dry up with proper ventilation. If your basement is completely cut off from any sort of airflow, you’ll likely run into issues.
7. Damaged Plumbing Lines and Water Leaks
Damaged plumbing lines can be a big issue when it comes to mold growth. Everything from small leaks to major damage creates excess moisture that will eventually lead to mold if left unattended. Even a small leak in a pipe can mean a lot of water escaping into places it isn’t supposed to. These minor leaks are sometimes more troublesome for mold growth since they are easy to miss and, over time, can mean a lot more excess moisture being released into your basement. That’s why it’s important to address any water damage as soon as possible and take preventative measures to avoid potential mold growth in the future.
8. Poor Drainage Systems
Standing water can be a common occurrence where drainage systems are not functioning properly. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can create a perfect breeding ground for mold growth. Mold thrives in moist environments, and when standing water is present, it can create the ideal conditions for mold to take hold. This is why it’s important to address any issues with drainage systems in a timely manner to prevent standing water from accumulating. Not only can mold lead to health issues, but it can also cause damage to property. Don’t let standing water be the cause of mold growth in your home or business. Take preventative measures and address any drainage issues as soon as they arise.
9. Anything Else That Creates a Humid Environment
A dry basement is a mold-free basement. Anything in your basement that has the potential to create excess moisture is a potential cause for concern when it comes to mold growth. If you aren’t sure whether or not something is an issue that could cause mold growth, consider seeking out mold inspection services to have them come and check for potential problems or hazards as well as to advise you what to do if there is already mold growth.
Where to Check For Mold?
There are many places where mold can grow, and a lot of these places can be hidden away since mold often likes closed-off, dark, and damp environments. Anywhere that organic material is stored is a possible growth spot for mold. Things like furniture, clothing, cardboard, wood, drywall, and carpet are potential growth spots for mold.
If your basement smells musty, there’s a high chance that mold is already growing. The only way to be absolutely sure about whether or not there’s mold growing in your basement is to get it checked out by professionals. This is where mold inspection services come in — the experts will be able to ensure that you know about any and all mold in your basement so that you can get it properly treated.
12 Tips on How to Prevent Basement Mold?
If you already have mold in your basement, you should make sure that you get things professionally taken care of. However, if you just got the mold removed from your basement or you don’t have any mold growing at the moment, it’s a good idea to take preventive measures against mold growth. Here are some ways to help keep your basement as mold-free as possible.
1. Clean Water Up Quickly
If you’re worried about possibly having mold growth in your basement, it’s important to make sure you clean up any spilled or leaked water as quickly as possible. If you notice any water leaking or spilled in your basement, clean it up immediately and make sure you’re also taking care of the root of your issue. If there are any areas that have caused problems in the past, make sure that you check the spots regularly.
2. Be Careful About Your Storage
The more things that you have stored in your basement, the more potential spots for mold growth you’re creating. If your basement gets humid, things like clothes, books, papers, etc, can become damp and breed mold. If you use your basement for storage, avoid storing things in cardboard boxes and instead opt for airtight plastic options.
3. Declutter as Much as Possible
You should try to regularly declutter your basement to make sure that you aren’t storing items you don’t need that have the potential to hide mold. In addition, if your basement is finished, it’s important to declutter to ensure you’re not leaving food or drinks sitting around in your basement regularly.
4. Repair Leaks Quickly
If you have a leak in your plumbing, make sure to get it fixed as quickly as possible. Not only is a leak wasting water and potentially damaging your home, but it can also create a good environment for mold to grow. Even a small leak can end up emptying a lot of water into your basement over time. If you’re waiting for a leak to be repaired, make sure to find a container to catch the water and regularly empty it to ensure that there isn’t an opportunity for your basement to get humid and become a good environment for mold.
5. Check Gutters and Downspouts
Since improperly installed gutters and downspouts can lead to moisture issues in your basement, it’s a good idea to double-check that they are working how they’re meant to. This means that there aren’t any gaps or leaks in your gutters and that the downspouts are pointing away from your home the way they’re meant to. If you notice any of your gutters aren’t working how they should be, make sure to get them fixed as quickly as possible.
6. Use Exhaust Fans in Bathrooms
As stated earlier, an improperly ventilated bathroom can become a potential growth spot for mold. If you have any bathrooms in your basement, especially one with a shower, you should make sure that you have a ventilation system that will reroute humid air outside so you don’t have to worry about the humid air creating excess moisture in your basement.
7. Insulate Windows Properly
To avoid condensation pileup on your windows, it’s a good idea to insulate the windows in your basement properly. Fiberglass is one good option for making sure that your windows don’t create condensation because of differences in temperature in your basement and outside.
8. Avoid Installing Carpeting
While you may be tempted to install carpeting to give your basement a more warm feeling, it isn’t the best option when it comes to preventing the growth of mold. Since carpet can hold moisture and create a good environment for mold, it’s best to keep it on the above-ground levels of your home. Instead, opt for a type of flooring like vinyl or tile that won’t be able to hold onto moisture and create a good home for mold. Wooden flooring is also not ideal since wood can hold moisture as well as mold once it has begun to grow. If you have carpeting now and are wondering if it’s holding mold, make sure to seek out a mold inspection company to help you discover whether or not you have an issue.
9. Don’t Put Plants in Your Basement
Plants are a great piece of decor, but they are also a source of moisture. While this is great in the other levels of your home where there’s better ventilation, it can cause issues in your basement. Mold spores can flourish in a plant’s soil, and placing this in a closed-off environment like a basement can create the chance for mold to spread throughout your basement.
If you do choose to keep a plant or two in your basement, make sure that you aren’t overwatering them. Excess moisture in the plant can help contribute to excess moisture elsewhere in your basement, creating a good environment for mold to grow.
10. Insulate Water Pipes
If you have water pipes running through your basement, you should make sure that they are properly insulated. Since your plumbing lines will either be running hot or cold water, they will likely not be the same temperature as the rest of your basement, which creates condensation. To avoid creating this excess moisture in your basement, insulate the pipes to keep the differing temperatures separate from each other. This will ensure that no condensation will form, and you can keep the excess moisture in your basement to a minimum.
11. Opt For Mold Resistant Paint
Mold-resistant paints won’t completely eradicate the possibility of mold growing in your basement, but used in conjunction with some of these other mold prevention methods, you can help lessen the risk of mold growing in your basement. If you aren’t sure what brand is going to be best for your basement, check with your mold inspector when they’re performing your mold inspection services. They will have recommendations that can help you with your mold prevention measures.
12. Don’t Store Wood in Your Basement
Mold likes to grow on wood, so avoiding having excess wood stored in your basement is a good idea. If you have scrap wood that you’re storing for a home improvement project or logs for a fire, try to find a spot in your garage or yard to store the wood instead of your basement. Your basement may seem like a good place to hold wood, but it can hold a lot of moisture and end up creating a breeding ground for mold.
What To Do if You Have Mold?
Sometimes factors out of your control lead to the growth and spread of mold in your home. If you find yourself smelling something musty in your crawl space or basement, it’s a good idea to call about getting a mold inspection as soon as possible. An experienced mold inspector can tell you where you have mold and give you a course of action to follow to help you eradicate the mold as efficiently as possible. The quicker you take care of your mold problem, the less time that the issue has to become bigger than it is.
If you’re worried about mold growing in your basement, it’s a good idea to do your research about what the causes are of mold growth as well as preventative measures that you can take.
If you believe your basement has mold in it, call the experts at Guaranteed Property and Mold Inspection to provide a mold inspection and help you ensure that your home is mold-free. We are able to determine whether or not there’s mold growing in your basement and guide you through the process of mold remediation. Call (949) 328-5754 today for more information on our services, as well as to schedule your inspection today. We look forward to helping you with your mold inspection.
First published on: Apr 9, 2018
Updated on: April 28, 2023