Signs of Mold in a Basement
Identify mold problems early to avert health risks
By Glyn Sheridan
Mold, a living organism, grows naturally in the environment, and most of the time it causes no problems. However, when mold takes up residence in a home, occupants who are allergic or sensitive to the mold spores may suffer from health problems. Basements provide an optimum mold-growing setting if moisture is present, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When looking for signs of mold in a basement, you'll need your sense of smell as well as your eyes.
Most molds are gray, white or black, and they grow in damp areas of the basement with poor air circulation. They may appear as a thick, velvety fungus, or they may look like dusty blotches on a wall. Water seepage and flooding may cause mold to grow, often in dark corners, along baseboards and inside cupboards. Use a flashlight to inspect the area beneath sinks where a slow drip from the plumbing provides the perfect spot for mold spores to reproduce. Move furniture to examine the walls and the floor beneath, and lift acoustical tile in a drop ceiling to examine the space above. Speckles of gray or white mold on drywall may indicate a larger mold problem in the stud space behind the drywall.
Mold has a musty smell, and just because you don't see it growing on the walls doesn't mean it's not there. Condensation in metal heating ducts increases the risk of mold growth within the system. A blast of musty air when the system first turns on may indicate a mold problem in the ducting. Likewise, trust your nose if you open the door to a basement storage area, closet or cabinet and a strong musty smell is apparent.
Some places in your basement are more likely to develop mold. Areas with increased humidity, such as non-vented bathrooms, rooms with exterior corner walls, and drip pans beneath air conditioning and refrigeration units need frequent monitoring for the presence of mold. In addition, a basement laundry room, a sump pump or a sewer lift are likely spots for mold to start growing. Damage to basement windowsills from moisture indicates water may have drained between the foundation and the drywall, increasing the risk of mold formation.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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