Mold is found almost everywhere and your basement tends to be more prone to mold growth than other parts of your home due to being dark, have poor airflow, and can be damp.
While basement mold might be common, it is not normal. In fact, there is no level of mold growth, however small, that can be considered normal. All mold should be removed asap.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has one main piece of advice for home and property owners that notice mold growths: ensure they are removed as soon as possible.
The exact percentage of homes with mold is somewhat difficult to ascertain. Studies show that, on a national level, the number of homes with mold ranges anywhere between more than 50%, up to as many as 70%.
Whatever the exact percentage really is, it is clear that the majority of homes in the U.S. contain some level of mold growth. Given that basements are more prone to mold growth than many other areas in the home, it is safe to assume that basement mold is fairly common.
Can mold in the basement affect upstairs?
As we mentioned earlier, mold requires three key environmental factors in order to grow: a damp or moist environment, adequate nutrients, and material or surface to grow on.
As such, the presence of basement mold will only affect other areas in your home if the upstairs area also offers a damp, moist environment for the mold to spread to and grow in.
That being said, if you have a moisture or dampness problem in your basement, it could signify a wider moisture or dampness problem in your home. Whether the result of a flood, a leaky pipe, or even cracked foundations, it is important to establish the cause of any moisture problem in your basement to ensure that it doesn’t present a risk to the rest of your home.
As mold spores are very small and extremely lightweight, they can easily be borne from the basement on your clothing, your pet’s fur, or even the air. The best way to ensure a mold problem in one area of your home doesn’t spread throughout the rest of your home is to nip any moisture issues in the bud, and to maintain a dry, well-ventilated environment that is inhospitable to mold growth.
Health risks of basement mold
The health risks of basement mold are much the same as the health risks presented by mold growing in other areas of your home.
If you do not make frequent use of your basement, then it is possible that some of these symptoms may take longer to appear. People with mold allergies or asthma may be more susceptible to ill effects from basement mold than others.
Some of the common health impacts that can result from exposure to basement mold include:
- Respiratory symptoms: A blocked or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, and even shortness of breath.
- Eye and skin complaints: Red, itchy eyes, and rash-like symptoms.
- Asthma: Asthmatic complaints and asthma attacks.
How do you get rid of mold in your basement?
The means by which you remove and remediate mold in your basement will largely depend upon the size of the mold growing there.
If you have caught it early, and the mold growth measures less than 3 feet by 3 feet, it is possible to remove this mold yourself.
Before you begin any mold removal work in your basement, you will need to ensure that you are wearing the proper personal protective equipment. At a minimum, this equipment includes:
- A mask
- Protective eyewear
- Rubber gloves
- Sturdy, enclosed shoes
The products and processes that you will use to clean the mold in your basement will depend upon the surface or material that the mold is growing on. In many instances, basement mold tends to appear on the walls and ceilings of your basement as the result of the ingress of water due to flooding outside your home.
If you wish to remove basement mold from the walls of your basement, follow the method listed below.
- Create a solution of one part dishwashing detergent, 10 parts bleach, and 20 parts water.
- Apply the detergent/bleach solution to the moldy area with a sponge or mop. Do not over-saturate the wall.
- Leave the solution on the moldy area, and do not rinse away.
- Allow the solution to air dry.
If the mold growth in your basement is larger than the 3 feet by 3 feet mentioned above, you will need to call in professional remediators to address the problem.
As well as representing longer, excessive exposure to larger amounts of mold, these large mold growths are often a sign of a significant moisture ingress issue that will need to be professionally assessed and fixed to prevent the ongoing and recurring growth of mold in your basement.
Can mold get into air ducts?
Mold in your basement will not necessarily lead to mold entering your air ducts, but if you have the right conditions for mold growth in your basement, you may also have the right conditions for mold growth in your HVAC and air ducts.
Along with the ubiquitous moist environment, poor ventilation gives rise to mold growth in air ducts and air conditioning units. Basements, which usually do not have any direct access to outside airflow, are considered to have relatively poor ventilation.
If you have basement mold, you may be running the risk of having mold grow in your air ducts or air conditioning. If mold spores from your basement are able to spread to these units, then they are susceptible to mold growths of their own.
If mold does spread to your air ducts or air conditioning, then you will need to seek the help of professional mold remediators in order to remove it. Mold in air conditioner and air ducts present a risk to other areas of your home, as it facilitates the easy spread of mold spores.
What does mold removal cost?
The cost of mold removal can differ widely, depending on the extent and location of mold growths in your home or property. On average, the cost for mold removal in your basement ranges from $500 – $6,000.
If the remediators simply need to remove mold from drywall or concrete, and there is no obvious issue with dampness or moisture, then you can expect to pay at the lower end of this spectrum.
However, if your basement mold is the result of an unsealed foundation, or even if the growth is very large, the price for commercial mold remediation will climb accordingly.
As these costs can differ so widely, it is important to discuss the process of mold remediation in your basement with your remediator. They will be able to run through each stage of the process, demonstrating not only how it will fix your immediate mold problem, but also help prevent future mold problems in your basement.