Are you worried you might have mold in the basement or other parts of the home? Here are the five top signs of a mold problem that you should watch out for. Learn about mold toxicity and why preventing mold is essential. Also, consider hiring professionals for basement mold removal, as this low-lying area of the home is one place where mold begins and thrives but can be hard to eliminate on your own.
What Are the Top 5 Signs of Mold in a Basement?
Presence of pests
Many insects and vermin are attracted to water. This includes rodents, cockroaches, pillbugs, earwigs, centipedes, and silverfish. If there are cracks in your basement foundation (see below), these unwanted visitors can easily make their way inside. If you’ve never had a problem with these pests before but suddenly find them in or around your home, it could be a sign of excess moisture and mold.
Boggy, uneven, or dipping basement floors can occur either when there is moisture beneath them or when soil has been eroded under a foundation. Sometimes this sign is subtle, and you may notice carpeting or floorboards not laying properly. You might feel soft spots beneath your feet, or the floor might feel “bouncy,” with more give than normal. Where there is moisture trapped below, there is often mold, particularly if you notice other signs of mold in a basement or the symptoms of mold toxicity described as you read on.
Building materials deteriorating
Especially if you notice sinking floors, you may also observe cracks in your foundation, slab, or walls. Continuously present water that provides a home for mold puts pressure on these structures. And, eventually, they give. Moving soil from wet ground can also contribute to this phenomenon.
Other building materials may start to break down in more obvious ways, too. This includes:
- Peeling and flaking paint
- Stains or discoloration on interior structures
- Warped paneling or floors
- Crumbling drywall
- Rotting wood
It’s not just the water that encourages mold that eats away at your home; mold itself, because it’s a living organism, actually feeds on the surface where it’s growing. This can cause large amounts of damage over time.
Plumbing or water problems
Problems with your plumbing system or water can also be a sign of yet unseen mold in a basement. Watch out if you have any of these issues:
- Leaking or dripping pipes
- Leaking water heater
- Previous frozen or burst pipe
- Dripping hose spigot outside
- Sudden drop in water pressure
- Unusually high water bill
- Sound of water running when the tap is not on
- Ponding water in the yard
- Smell of wastewater
Visible or olfactory indicators
You may smell mold as well – that unpleasant musty odor most people recognize immediately. It can be difficult to track where it’s coming from if it gets in your air vents or rises up from the basement.
Of course, seeing mold with your own eyes is a sign of mold in the basement as well. Usually, it is black, brown, gray, blue, or green, or some combination of those colors. Mold typically grows in circular patterns and may take over a surprisingly large area very quickly. It can be under cabinets, beneath the floor, or behind walls, not necessarily out in the open.
What Are the Signs of Mold Toxicity?
If you suspect you have mold in your basement, you may wonder if it can make you sick. The answer is yes, it can. Mold toxicity, also known as mold poisoning, can produce symptoms ranging from nuisance sniffles to asthma attacks and infections.
The severity of mold toxicity depends on a number of factors:
- Amount of time you are exposed to mold
- Amount of mold in your environment
- Type of mold you have been exposed to
- Proximity to mold (in the attic versus the kitchen, where you spend much of your time at home)
- Mold allergies (sensitize you to mold, making reactions stronger)
- Other health conditions (AKA comorbidities)
If you notice the five signs of mold in a basement or other part of your house, plus these symptoms below, you may have mold toxicity:
- Nasal or sinus congestion or irritation
- Sore throat or coughing
- Itchy, watery, or red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty breathing
- Rashes, hives, or other forms of skin irritation
- New asthma
- Worsening or more frequent asthma attacks
Babies, young children, pregnant women, seniors, people with allergies and respiratory conditions, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to mold toxicity.
If you believe you or your family members have mold toxicity, you should consult a healthcare provider immediately. They will make an assessment based on your symptoms and description of problems in the home. A doctor may also suggest allergy testing to see if you are allergic to different types of mold, which puts you at greater risk of mold-related illness.
Try to avoid the areas of the home where you believe mold is growing until it can be removed (see below). Resist touching it or handling things that have come in contact with it. It’s important to realize also that 40 percent of the air you breathe in your home comes from the basement. So, ultimately, eliminating the mold completely is your goal to avoid breathing in mold spores.
How Can Homeowners Prevent Mold?
The best way to avoid mold problems is to prevent it altogether. Use these tips to keep mold from growing in your home:
- Keep humidity inside below 50 percent. Consider installing an air conditioner or using a dehumidifier for moisture reduction during periods of damp or humid weather. If you have condensation on your windows, the humidity is too high.
- Improve air ventilation throughout the home.
- Fix leaks and keep a close eye on plumbing.
- Clean and dry out the home right away after a storm or flooding. Replace wet carpeting rather than trying to dry it. If damage is severe, hire professionals.
- Install a sump pump to remove stormwater from the basement.
- Landscape around the foundation to inhibit the accumulation of water.
- Use mold-killing cleaning products, especially in wet areas of the home, like the bathroom and kitchen.
- Use exhaust fans, particularly in the bathroom, to remove moist air.
- Always vent your clothes dry to the exterior of the home.
Will an air purifier help with mold? It depends on the specific mold problem, the volume of air purified, the type of filter you use in the purifier, and where the purifier is placed. Air purifiers can help remove musty odors from the environment, but you want to be careful that you’re not masking a mold problem simply by getting rid of the smell but not the source.
Can You Test for Mold in Your Home?
You can test for mold in the home, although the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says this isn’t necessary most of the time. Seeing mold anywhere in a room is sufficient evidence that the mold exists. However, this may involve exposing mold behind walls, under floors, and behind panels in the basement if you suspect mold is present but can’t see it. Sometimes people do surface testing after they have done mold cleaning or remediation to make sure it has been thoroughly removed.
There are many different species of mold, which are part of the fungus kingdom that also includes yeast, mildew, and mushrooms. It’s wise to assume that mold growing in your home is unsafe, regardless of what type it is. The worst kinds of mold can produce mycotoxins, which cause unusually bad health symptoms. So, mold should be removed as soon as possible.
What If You Need Basement Mold Removal?
If you have mold in your basement, you want to have a professional service like Moisture Loc remove it for you.
- We have all the tools and chemicals at our disposal.
- You don’t have to increase your exposure to the mold.
- We know how to find mold in places you might not look.
- We eradicate mold completely so it doesn’t spread or start to regrow.
Moisture Loc can also provide solutions to prevent the conditions that promoted mold in the first place. We are experts at basement waterproofing, dehumidifying, and foundation drainage systems. If there has been damage to your property’s structure, Moisture Loc offers foundation repair services, including settlement and slab repair, wall stabilization, and the application of sealants for concrete and masonry.
You don’t want to wait until you or your family are suffering health problems because of mold. Mold that destroys your home can become an expensive problem, and it can lower the value of your property or make it impossible to sell (we work with real estate agents, too). Take action on basement mold removal today by calling Moisture Loc at 704-554-9229 or by reaching out online to request a free consultation.