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How to Prevent Basement Mold and Mildew

Basements can be great living areas for any family. They add additional living space, allow the family to spread out, and can even include additional bedrooms when egress windows are present. Basements, however, can also be damp, moisture-laden areas of a home. This can promote basement mold and mildew growth. This can cause major health issues for everyone in the home, especially those with asthma or other respiratory issues. What can you do to prevent the spread of basement mold and mildew in your home?

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You may never be able to completely moisture-proof your basement. There are things, however, you can do to mitigate the amount of moisture that occupies your basement, and the effect that this moisture can have.

1. Use “mold-proof” building materials

If you already have a finished and furnished basement, this might not help you much. If you’re just starting on the framing of a basement project or you are considering a remodel, however, there are some great “mold-proof” building materials available. This includes specially-treated lumber, insulation, drywall, mud, tape, and more. While none of these are a guaranteed way to prevent basement mold and mildew, they can reduce the likelihood of it growing. This is done by either adding chemicals to the material to hinder mold growth, or by eliminating aspects of a material that fosters it (like drywall paper).

2. Run a dehumidifier (or two)

This may seem like a simple tip, but the best way to prevent basement mold and mildew is to eliminate the moisture as best possible. The primary way to do this is to run one or multiple dehumidifiers in your basement. A dehumidifier pulls moisture from the air, collecting it as water in a bin or pumping the water into a drain through a small tube or hose. Using dehumidifiers in your basement can be somewhat of a hassle, as they use a considerable amount of electricity and they stop running when the storage bin is full. The benefit, however, is worth it when the mildew-y smells are no longer a part of your favorite living space.

3. Make sure it’s ventilated

When the air in a living space becomes stagnant, mildew is bound to grow. Opening your basement ductwork and air returns can go a long way to ensure proper ventilation. Making sure interior doors are open and using fans to circulate the air can also reduce the risk of mildew growth on surfaces. Whatever your solution, be sure to keep air moving through your basement as best possible.

4. Have air ducts cleaned

Both hot and cold air travel through your duct work constantly. This can be a prime place for moisture to condense and get trapped. Ensuring that they are cleaned regularly can eliminate mold spores that have already formed in your duct work and can prevent them from spreading into other areas of your home, like the basement. This can also provide your family with cleaner air to breathe in all areas of the home, not just the ones below grade.

5. A fresh coat of mildew-resistant paint

If you notice basement mold and mildew forming on your interior doors, walls, or ceilings, one solution could be a fresh coat of mildew-resistant paint. This paint can prevent moisture from penetrating the paint by creating a thin barrier on the painted surface. The good news is you don’t have to search far and wide for some specialized product. Behr’s “Premium Plus Enamel” is available at your local home depot, and should help keep your basement surfaces free of minor mold or mildew.

6. Replace your carpet with LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile)

Carpet in your finished basement can be a great flooring solution. It’s soft, reduces noise, and makes it easier for the kids to play and roll around. Unfortunately, many types of carpet and carpet pad can be a breeding ground for basement mold and mildew. Using a carpet with synthetic fibers can help, but the best thing you can do is replace it with LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile). High-quality vinyl tile is naturally resistant to mold and mildew because it is a non-porous, synthetic material. What’s more, it will look great in your home’s lower level and is fairly easy to install.

What if I already have basement mold and mildew?

Serious mold issues need to be dealt with by a mold remediation company. Any amount of mold can be a health concern for you and your family. If  you have an area of concern larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, you should call a professional mold remediation company.

If, however, you’re dealing with random mildew stains on your ceilings, interior doors, or walls, you can use a borax and water combination to clean them and prevent recurrence. Mix a one cup (borax) to one gallon (water) mixture, and wipe down the area with a sponge or rag. It’s better to not use bleach, as this can affect the color of the surface you’re cleaning.

Another trick that the professionals use is to treat the area with an ozone generator. These machines fill a living space with ozone, killing biological materials such as mold, mildew, fungus, and small pests. Ozone is harmful to living things, including humans and pets, so it’s vital that you evacuate the home during treatment, and for at least one hour after so the Ozone can dissipate. Always follow manufacturer’s directions and safety warnings. The positive, however, is that the mold and mildew in the living space will be killed, and the musty smell will be gone as well. You should read more about using ozone generators before attempting their use, but they are a go-to solution for many mold remediators.

Need help with a mold-proof remodel or repair? Call ProMaster!

If you’re ready to frame, build out, paint, or otherwise mold-proof your basement, no problem! Our team of craftsmen would love to help you with any of your home repair needs, including basement remodeling. Simply call 513-322-2914, schedule online, or use the “Reach Out” form at the bottom of this page.

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