How to Remove Mold From Basements and Crawl Spaces

How to Remove Mold From Basements and Crawl Spaces

October 28, 2020

Of all of the areas in the home most well-known for developing mold, basements and crawl spaces are two of the most common. This is due to the fact that both of these areas are typically moist and lack ventilation. Basements also tend to be low-traffic areas where mold can grow unnoticed while crawlspaces are rarely checked for infestations. For this reason, mold growth in basements and crawlspaces is usually left to flourish until it is completely out of control. Today, we will be giving you all of the necessary information to not only remove mold from basements and crawl spaces but also to prevent it from occurring in the first place. 

At Mold Inspection Network, we believe that the first step to keeping mold from growing in your basement and crawl spaces is having the necessary knowledge to prevent it. We will also be covering the causes of mold growth in basements and crawlspaces. Lastly, we will be discussing the necessary measures you should take to remove mold from these areas. Let’s get started!

What Causes Mold in Basements?

There are three primary causes of mold in basements. These include cracks in the foundation leading to water penetration, basement flooding, and increased humidity and condensation. When there are cracks in the foundation of a basement, this allows water to penetrate the surface resulting in moisture build-up. Considering the fact that mold needs a build-up of moisture in order to germinate, this can spell disaster in terms of mold infestation.

Basement flooding is, unfortunately, a pretty common problem for homeowners. This may be caused by sump pump failure. A sump pump can fail due to old age or, perhaps, a power outage during a storm. A damaged or failing sump pump can lead to basement flooding, causing a significant amount of moisture build-up that, if not properly addressed, can create the perfect environment for mold to grow. 

Finally, it should be noted that basements have very cold walls- especially in the winter time. When cold walls are mixed with the warm, heated air that fills up a basement, the result is condensation. Condensation creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow in a basement and this typically results in mold growth on the concrete walls of the basement’s foundation and windows. 

What Causes Mold in Crawl Spaces?

So what causes mold in crawl spaces? The biggest causes of mold growth in crawl spaces are high moisture and humidity combined with a lack of ventilation throughout the area. The location of crawl spaces is underneath the home and close to the earth. This means that the moisture from the earth’s soil can create the conditions needed for mold to grow. 

A lack of ventilation throughout crawl spaces means that the area remains humid and stale, further increasing the likelihood that mold will develop. Crawl spaces are rarely inspected for mold growth by most homeowners, meaning that mold can grow freely until it progresses into an infestation. 

How to Prevent Mold Growth in Basements

So what can be done to prevent the growth of mold in basements? While there isn’t much that can be done about cracks in the foundation, it is possible to keep the progression of cracks to a minimum by inspecting the outside perimeter of your home for the collection of water. Be sure to check for pools of water collecting against the base of the foundation. 

You should also make sure that your home’s gutters drain a minimum of six feet away from the house. This lessens the chances of water collecting around the foundation of the home, penetrating the cracks in the base of the foundation. If your gutters don’t empty a minimum of six feet away from the house, you can purchase gutter extenders to direct the collected water further away from the house. 

In terms of preventing mold growth caused by basement flooding due to sump pump failure, the best way to avoid this issue is by maintaining the life of your sump pump. Be sure to purchase the best sump pump possible and take further preventative measures by installing a battery backup system in case of a power outage. 

When a sump pump malfunctions or fails, your drain pipes direct water into your basement, causing flooding. Although some of the best sump pumps can cost as much as $100, this is a small price to pay in comparison to the thousands of dollars in damages that could be caused when your basement floods. 

When it comes to preventing mold growth causes by condensation, there are two preventative measures in particular that you can use to avoid this issue. Firstly, you can use anti-mildew paint in your basement. You can re-paint your concrete foundation with anti-mildew paint to try to prevent the growth of mold although it should be noted that these products don’t always work. 

Secondly, you can insulate your basement’s foundation. Insulated walls can keep your basement’s temperature regulated to the point where condensation is less likely and mold won’t have the necessary conditions to grow. 

How to Prevent Mold Growth in Crawl Spaces

In terms of preventing mold growth in crawl spaces, it’s all about ventilation. For this reason, you should always check that your crawl spaces are adequately ventilated. There should be, at minimum, one square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawl space area. 

When a crawl space is damp, the use of either ventilation or a dehumidifier is key to preventing mold growth. That being said, there are a few different preventative methods you can use to lessen the chances of a mold infestation in your crawl spaces. Let’s take a look at each of those.

  • Vented crawl spaces should always be tightly insulated against the subfloor. Mechanical fasteners can be used to ensure that the insulation is secured. 
  • Make sure that there is a plastic sheeting vapor barrier that covers the entirety of the dirt crawl space area. This plastic sheeting should overlap in several layers as well as be free of any standing water that can create a moist environment.
  • You should also be sure that existing insulation isn’t missing or sagging. Signs of sagging are especially significant indicators of an underlying water problem.
  • Vents that are dryer should always empty outside of the house and not directly into the crawlspace as this can cause unnecessary humidity. 

How to Remove Mold in Basements and Crawl Spaces

Let’s say that, despite your best efforts, you develop a mold problem in either your basement or crawl spaces. What can be done to remove mold growth? At Mold Inspection Network, we are firm believers in the power of proper mold cleanup procedures. It is important to note that proper mold cleanup procedures include the physical cleaning of affected areas as well as the complete removal of damaged materials- not just treatment of the area. Let’s look at a few of the ways to remove mold in basements and crawl spaces.

Removing Mold Caused by Cracks in the Foundation

The best way to remove mold caused by cracks in the foundation of your home is to open up the walls, exposing the crack in the foundation, and having it sealed up by a trained mold remediation specialist. 

Removing Mold Caused by Flooding

Removing mold growth caused by flooding requires a few different steps. Firstly, if you experience a flood in your basement you should always call a professional water damage and dry-out company within 24 hours of the incident. This is your best means of trying to prevent the formation of mold. 

If it’s too late to dry out the property and mold has already begun to grow, however, wet drywall will need to be cut out and completely removed from the basement as there is little that treatment and physically cleaning can do for the affected area. 

Removing Mold Caused by Condensation

Mold in basements that is caused by condensation tends to grow on the surface of painted concrete walls. In order to remove mold from these areas, mold treatment and physical cleaning of the affected area is required. We recommend purchasing a reputable mold cleaning agent, and using it to physically clean all affected surfaces. 

These chemical agents can be powerful so it is highly recommended to protect your eyes and mouth with a mask and gloves. Those that aren’t comfortable performing the treatment, cleaning, and removal process themselves should hire a mold removal specialist to assist them. 

Removing Mold From Crawl Spaces

Unfortunately, removing mold from crawl spaces can be a painstaking process. This is because of the fact that crawl spaces are tightly confined areas and proper cleaning and removal efforts include vacuuming, spraying, and thorough scrubbing of the affected area. It is, again, vital that you remember that removing mold from crawl spaces involves not only treatment but a physical cleaning of the area. Any damaged materials should be completely removed from the home as they could lead to reinfestations in your home’s crawl spaces. 

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