You might think that the musty smell in your basement is completely normal. All basements smell like that, after all, don’t they? The truth is, many times that smell is a sure sign that mold is growing unchecked in the space below your home. To really get rid of a musty smell in your basement, you’ll need to remove the mold and the moisture contributing to its growth.
In many cases, you will be able to see mold growing on the walls in a basement. It might be black, green, brown or very pale in color, depending on what species have colonized the space. Identifying the exact type of mold you have will help you better understand the problem and find a solution. Mold in a home can significantly impact indoor air quality and contribute to respiratory symptoms or other health problems. So, no matter what type you find, you should definitely take steps to safely remove it and discourage further growth.
7 Common Questions About Removing Mold From Basement Walls
When mold is provided with a dependable food source and adequate moisture, it will begin to feed and reproduce. The most dependable food source for mold is cellulose. It is found in wood and paper-based materials that are abundant in homes.
It also requires high moisture content to grow. Some types, such as Stachybotrys chartarum (a.k.a. black mold), require a constant water source, while others can thrive with occasional moisture or high humidity levels. Basements tend to have poor ventilation, allowing humidity or dampness from the surrounding soil to accumulate inside. Coupled with the cellulose found in drywall, insulation backing and dust, this is an ideal environment for mold growth.
There really are two parts to this answer. The first part is the good news: Mold can be cleaned off of wall surfaces quite easily. A vinegar-soaked rag or spritz with a commercial mold remover will generally wipe out visible traces of mold from the wall. This might be sufficient for a quick touch-up, but it will not eliminate the larger problem that is growing inside the wall. For that, we get to the second part of the answer.
Mold cannot really just be washed off the walls or any other surfaces. To really get rid of it, you need to eliminate the water source that is encouraging growth. Without water, mold cannot survive and reproduce. In a dry environment, any small amounts that might be left behind will not be able to rehydrate to start raising additional mold colonies in your basement walls.
In short, removing the surface mold off of walls will make them more attractive. Still, it will not resolve the underlying problem: There are millions — or more! — of tiny little fungi actively living, eating and reproducing inside of them. They will quickly return to any finished walls since drywall is backed by paper, which is one of mold’s favorite foods. To keep that from happening, you will need to do more than wash the mold; you need to eradicate it and eliminate the water providing nourishment. Our mold remediation experts work to eliminate any residual traces of mold from the environment so you can stop worrying about cleaning mold off the basement walls.
The EPA does not recommend homeowners attempt to remove large mold infestations. Instead, you should call professional mold remediation experts who can safely eliminate the mold and remove contaminated materials.
The EPA does provide guidance for homeowners who are interested in removing mold from the walls themselves. The basic steps include:
Concrete walls present slightly different concerns. For starters, they are much lower in cellulose compared to finished walls made from wood and drywall, so mold will have to work harder to access food. Unfortunately, basements usually have plenty of dust to keep them well-fed and reproducing. They also present a sizable obstacle to removing existing infestations.
In a standard mold removal operation, the contaminated materials are removed and replaced with fresh ones. Concrete makes that difficult since you can’t just take out a portion of the house’s foundation. That doesn’t mean that mold can’t be removed from concrete walls, but rather that it is a job best left to professional mold removal experts.
There are multiple products on the market to remove mold, and some are more effective than others. A popular pick is RMR Complete Mold Killer and Disinfectant. Its EPA-registered formula works to kill mold, clean stains and eliminate odors in one simple step. It also serves as a household disinfectant that can kill bacteria and virus particles so that you can find other uses for any leftover product.
Homeowners should always use caution when selecting a product since they may require special protective equipment or ventilation support. Also, some are specifically designed for outdoor mold problems and should not be used in indoor areas. That is especially true of basements, which often have low ceilings and a lack of natural ventilation.
Some families choose a more natural solution, which can also be effective. For example, high-potency vinegar can effectively kill mold even deep inside of porous materials like your basement walls. However, its high acidity can damage some surfaces, making it a poor choice for removing mold on waxed wood, natural stone, waxed wood, aluminum or cast iron.
Many homeowners automatically think of bleach as a way to remove mold from walls and other surfaces. However, it is not an effective tool. In fact, the EPA does not recommend using bleach in most cases. It is incredibly harsh to breathe and is highly toxic when mixed with certain other household chemicals.
Bleach can also leave behind a small number of living organisms after treatment. Once sealed back up inside your walls, provided they have food and the right amount of moisture, these residual molds will continue to grow. Over time you will be left with the same situation you were trying to resolve. Our technicians use professional-grade treatments to kill the existing mold. They also apply an inhibitor to prevent a resurgence of mold growth.
If you are still thinking about removing mold from your basement walls, it is helpful to gather together the supplies you will need. Use this list to get yourself organized:
Safety equipment: N95 respirator, rubber gloves, safety glasses or goggles and a fan for ventilation
Cleaning Tools: Your chosen cleaning solution, paintbrushes (to apply solution), a scrub brush, rags, 6-mil trash bags, a shop-vac, plastic sheeting and tape
Remember that the more safety precaution you take, the less contamination will escape into the rest of your home. If you want to ensure the mold is removed the correct way, Mold Remediation can help. Our trained technicians can determine what type of mold is present in your basement, how far it has penetrated the walls and the most effective removal strategy. Contact us today to learn more about our basement mold removal services.
Hiring a professional mold inspector will give you peace of mind. Being in a position where you are uncertain as to the toxicity of mold in your residence can be extremely stressful.
At moldremediation.io, we pride ourselves on being quick, thorough and effective in how we communicate the mold remediation tests that we perform for our homeowner clients.