It’s no secret that mold on basement walls is caused by moisture, although you might be surprised at how common and how dangerous it actually is. Mold reproduces by releasing microscopic spores into the air in the hope that some will land in an environment suitable for more mold growth. There is no way to keep mold spores out of your home. There will inevitably be some amount of spores in the air, which is fine. The problem arises when your home plays host by providing the one ingredient necessary for spores to grow into mold: moisture. Mold can grow anywhere in your home if it has the moisture to support it.
Once you’ve got mold, it can cause a wide range of health problems. Most commonly mold causes allergic reactions. Touching mold or inhaling a concentrated dose of mold spores can set off a wave of symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes. These same symptoms can even occur in people who have no allergies to mold whatsoever. Larger health consequences can include asthma, which adds life threatening asthma attacks to the list of symptoms previously mentioned. According to the Center for Disease Control, mold now thought to be linked to memory loss and lethargy, though this has not been definitively proven.
Unchecked mold on basement walls and floor are not only bad for your health of you and your family, but can cause irreversible damage to your home. Mold can quickly and easily grow into porous surfaces in your basement, such as carpet, insulation, or ceiling tiles. In these cases, really the only option is to dispose of the material entirely.
Basements are more prone to mold problems because of their underground location. Porous, concrete basement walls and floors are the only thing keeping the dirt and moisture from invading your basement. Moisture will commonly work its way through the walls and floor and begin to grow in a place you may not think to look, given there are so many hiding places in the average basement. It is unsurprising to find mold hiding behind drywall, between walls and wallpaper or paneling, and under carpets or other flooring.
As stated by the EPA, the key to preventing toxic mold on basement walls is by controlling moisture. Certainly any cracks or seepage present around the foundation walls should be addressed. Household appliances that produce moisture in the air, such as clothes dryers and any combustion appliances (which produce water vapor) should be properly ventilated. If applicable, shower with the fan on or open the window. Cold surfaces prone to condensation should be insulated. A dehumidifier can be used to keep humidity levels between 30 and 55 percent.
These simple tasks will go a long way to preventing mold from becoming an issue, and ensuring a healthy air quality for your home and your family.