Mold in Your Basement? Follow These Dos & Don'ts to Get Rid of It

4 January 2017
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If you've noticed some mold starting to climb up the walls in your basement, then it's important to take action and get rid of it. However, some mold remediation tactics are more effective than others—and others can be downright dangerous is performed incorrectly. To ensure you get rid of mold effectively without putting your health or home at risk, learn about these dos and don'ts.

Do: Focus on moisture reduction from the beginning.

Many homeowners try to get rid of the existing mold and then dry out the basement. But if your basement remains moist, the mold is going to start growing back almost immediately after you clean it up. So it's important to start by taking measures to dry your basement out.

Depending on the source of the moisture in your basement, this could be as simple as installing a dehumidifier or as complex as having a plumber replace some leaking pipes. As you make the changes to dry out your basement, use a hygrometer to keep an eye on the moisture levels in the air. Ideally, you should bring the humidity down to below 50% to prevent future mold growth.

Don't: Vacuum up mold.

Trying to vacuum up mold may seem like a good way to get rid of it, but this suspends the mold spores in the air. They are then free to deposit on other surfaces, where they can begin growing new mold colonies. It's also unhealthy to breathe in air that's laden with mold spores. 

Do: Treat the mold with bleach water.

There are numerous mold-fighting compounds on the market, but all you really need is plain, old bleach and water. It's effective against almost all strains of mold and is also inexpensive. 

Ventilate the basement before you begin treating the mold with bleach. Open any doors and windows, and consider putting a fan in the window to bring in extra fresh air. Add about a cup of regular-strength bleach to a gallon of water. Dip a cloth into this solution, and apply it generously to the walls. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, check it out, then absorb any lingering bleach water with a dry cloth.

Don't: Go in unprotected.

Some strains of mold are pretty harmless, while others can cause coughing, sneezing, nausea, and headaches. It's hard to tell the difference between strains just by looking at the mold, so err on the side of caution and protect yourself whenever you go into the basement to fight the mold. Wear gloves, a face mask, long sleeves, and pants.

Do: Keep checking and re-treating the walls as needed.

Especially when you're removing mold from a porous surface like drywall, you may need to apply the bleach solution more than once. Pay close attention to the walls in the days following treatment. If you see any mold coming back, attack it with the bleach water immediately. The key is to act quickly before this new mold has a chance to release spores. Eventually, all of the spores within the wall will have germinated and been killed by the bleach, and you should not experience any more mold growth.

Throughout this whole process, make sure you're running the dehumidifier and taking other measures to keep your basement as dry as possible.

If the mold keeps coming back with a vengeance even though you follow the tips above, then it's possible you have colonies behind the walls that are slowly spreading to the outside, visible surfaces of the walls. It's best to leave treating this type of infestation to the professionals. Contact a mold remediation specialist in your area to evaluate the situation.