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Mold in Basement: A Step-by-Step on How to Remove It


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Mold in basements is a problem for a number of reasons. Unsightly stains on the walls or the floor and the offensive odor are reason enough to be concerned about mold. But, by far the most concerning thing about mold is the health risks it poses, including irritated the eyes and nasal cavities, and infected lungs.

When it comes to mold there are two critical things to remember. First, prevention is always the best choice. If things are done correctly in the beginning, you can prevent mold from ever forming. However, if mold does develop, the second thing is to clean and remove it immediately. The sooner you get rid of mold, the better.

How to Remove Mold: 7 Steps

Follow these 7 steps to remove the mold in your basement: 

Assess the Damage

Step 1 is to assess the damage - Doing an honest assessment of the damage is perhaps your most important task when it comes to getting rid of mold. An invasive mold infestation that has manifested while you were away for a week or two will probably need to be handled by a mold remediator. Small problem sections caused by a leaky air conditioner or some other minor problem can be a DIY project.

You can purchase an inexpensive mold test kit from Amazon which includes the lab fees and a detailed report; or you can hire a professional to assess the situation and give you a detailed bid for completing the clean-up job. Either way, you need to have a good understanding of the extent of your mold infestation.

Use Protective Equipment

Step 2 is to wear protective gear - If you're a DIYer and want to take care of the mold yourself, then it's important to protect your self by wearing the appropriate protective gear. Long rubber gloves, goggles and a face mask are the bare minimum you should wear, and depending on the severity of the infestation you may even want to wear a Tyvek body suit.

Keep in mind that mold is highly irritating and even the slightest exposure can cause eye, nose, and recurring lung problems. So it's important that you keep safety as a high priority.

Fix the Cause of the Problem

Step 3 is to find the water source and fix the problem - Before you begin to remove the mold, it's critical that you determine just how it got there in the first place. Mold requires two things to grow: Darkness and moisture. So if you have mold, then there must be a water source involved.

The moisture could come from a number of places, including a broken pipe within the walls of the house, a hole in the siding that allows the rainwater to seap in, or a drain backup, as well as additional ways such as condensation. You'll need to put your detective hat on and find the water source.

If you can't seem to locate the problem, you may want to bring in a contractor or specialist to find the exact problem. There's nothing worse than doing costly repairs only to find that the mold returns.

Remove Mold Infested Carpets

Step 4 is to remove the mold infested carpets - If your basement is carpeted and has fallen prey to mold, your best bet is to remove it. You can try to rent a shampooer, but in many cases the mold has seeped into the underlayer of the carpet. When this happens you may not see the problem, but it's actually much worse than the mold you see on the surface. 

Rip the carpet into sections, as well as any underlayer, and double bag it for removal from your home. Be especially careful when hauling old moldy items through your home, as the spores can easily escape and spread into your living room, kitchen, and other living areas.

Remove Mold Infested Drywall

Step 5 is to tear down the mold infested drywall - Rain that has poured in through the home's foundation will likely cause mold on the drywall in a finished basement. Many people spray the drywall spots with a mold killer and hope that their problems have been solved. Sometimes you'll get lucky, especially if the problem isn't too bad.

However, in many cases these types of products change the color of the mold, and like the moldy carpet, the real problem may lie within the walls. Your best bet is to remove at least a 24” patch of drywall to get a look inside the walls and assess the situation. There may be insulation that needs to be removed, or you may discover a hole to the outside that has allowed water into the house. 

Another benefit of removing sections of drywall and getting a look inside is that you can assess the damage to any internal structures. If mold has formed on wall studs or plywood sheeting it's only a matter of time before the integrity of these items becomes compromised. Any materials that have mold growing on them will have to be replaced.

Clean Up

Step 6 is to clean up the area - Once you've removed the moldy carpet, drywall, and wood it's time to cleanup what’s left. A mixture of bleach and water is recommended for concrete surfaces, linoleum, and tile. Don’t use the solution on wood, drywall, or other porous objects, as it may actually promote mold growth.

If drywall or studs have significant mold growth on them throw them out and replace them. Once the cleaning is complete, let the area dry and get a heavy air supply flowing throughout.

Replace Damage Materials

Step 7 is to replace the damaged materials that you've removed - Once you've identified and removed any studs, plywood and drywall, you'll need to replace these materials. If you're comfortable with your DIY skills to do this job yourself you can save some money, but if not, you shouldn't hesitate in contacting a contractor to reassemble your basement. It's important that the job is done correctly.

Since you've already gotten rid of the mold-infested components the cost of the job should be reasonable. Plus, a seasoned contractor might have some tips to help prevent a mold attack in the future, such as installing a sump pump while access is easy.

Watch a Mold Clean-up Job


Preventing Future Mold Growth

Once the mold is gone and your basement has been repaired, it's important to prevent a recurrence of the ordeal in the future. Run a dehumidifier in your basement frequently if moisture is present. You'll also want to make sure your outdoor drainage system is working correctly.

Check for any clogs in your gutters and that water is being deposited well away from your house. Also ensure that the land surrounding your basement slopes away from your foundation. For more waterproofing tips CLICK HERE.

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