General Plumbing

What Causes Mold in a Basement?

Mold growing on the baseboard trim and lower part of interior basement wall.

Finding mold in the basement can come as a shock, especially if flooding or leaks aren’t known issues. But there are many additional reasons mold could be growing in your basement, and often these issues can go unnoticed for long periods.

So, where exactly does this moisture come from and how do you prevent it?

Learn all about the common causes of mold in the basement and what you can do about it.

Causes of Mold in Basements

Mold needs moisture to grow. This is why your basement – located underground and often lacking proper ventilation – is commonly filled with excess moisture and therefore attracts mold growth. But what else can lead to these moisture issues?

Some of the causes include:

  • Flooding. Basement flooding is quite common for residential homes and commercial businesses due to the nature of basements being below or near the water table. Also, washing machines, whole-home humidifiers, water softeners, and hot water heaters, which can all malfunction and leak, are often kept in basements.
  • Foundational cracks. Often basement floors are constructed of poured concrete, which, upon installation, may crack when drying. Cracks may also occur if the concrete wasn’t installed properly. Over time, these minor hairline cracks may expand, allowing water to seep into your basement.
  • Malfunctioning sump pump. It’s your sump pump’s job to redirect excess stormwater away from your home. If your sump pump isn’t working properly, then that water will likely collect and overflow inside your sump pump pit as well as around your home, seeping into your basement. If you notice your sump pump is acting up or you have doubts that it will work when you need it most, have a professional inspect and test it for potential repair or replacement services.
  • Poor ventilation. A basement bathroom with a shower that lacks an exhaust fan could become a source of mold.
  • Plumbing leaks. Plumbing leaks can happen anytime and frequently go unnoticed in finished basements due to pipes being hidden behind drywall. If you notice excess humidity, water damage, or leaks around your home and especially in your basement, it’s worth scheduling professional plumbing leak detection services to identify the source of the issue and prevent further damage.
  • Floor drain issues. Your floor drain is located in the basement of your home and can be the source of backflow from the sewer system. A sewage leak can be especially unpleasant and even dangerous, so if you notice any odors coming from your basement in addition to mold growth, call your local licensed plumber for emergency sewer line repair.
  • High humidity. If your basement is ever at or above 50 percent humidity, it’s worth investing in a whole-home dehumidifier. The optimal range is 30-50%, with mold becoming a potential hazard at 70% or above.

Even for minor flooding in your basement, the most important next step is to schedule restoration services. Small amounts of water damage can quickly lead to mold growth and mold spores further spreading. Get ahead of this issue by contacting our sister brand, STOP Restoration, for water damage restoration.

Related Content: Diagnose and Fix Problems in Your Floor Drain

Is Mold in My Basement Dangerous?

Yes. Mold can affect your overall health and even the structure of your home. Mold grows and spreads quickly, using building materials as a food source. As for your health, mold can cause many issues such as wheezing, itchy eyes, fever, and coughing. Mold can be worse for those with preexisting respiratory issues or mold sensitivities.

What to Do If You Find Mold in Your Basement

Getting rid of mold in basements is a dangerous job. As soon as you notice any signs of mold growth, contact our sister brand DRYmedic for mold removal services to properly remove and treat the infestation.

In the meantime, follow these safety precautions:

  1. Look around for and note any additional areas of mold growth, then share this with your mold removal specialist.
  2. Identify the source of the issue if possible and schedule additional plumbing or HVAC services to address the root of the problem.
  3. Ventilate the area by opening any windows and placing a fan to direct that airflow out of your home.
  4. Follow service professional instructions for the next steps.
  5. Schedule restoration services as needed.

Related Content: First Steps to Recovering From Water Damage

How to Prevent Mold in Basements

Here are some tips on how to stop mold in basements from growing and becoming a safety hazard:

  • Schedule regular plumbing inspections to spot leaks and repairs.
  • If you have a bathroom in your basement, always use the exhaust fan when showering to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Install an exterior drain system to direct excess water away from your home.
  • Regularly clean your gutters to prevent them from overflowing and saturating your foundation.
  • Insulate your pipes to prevent them from bursting from temperature drops in the colder months.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep interior humidity below 60%, ideally at 50%, especially in the summer when indoor basement humidity naturally rises in many states.
  • Schedule regular duct cleaning to prevent buildup of dirt and dust that could lead to mold growth.

Related Content: How to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Bathroom [DIY Tips]

Prevent Mold in Your Basement with a Professional Plumbing Inspection

Even a minor plumbing leak or issue can quickly lead to dangerous mold growth in your basement. If you notice signs of basement mold, count on your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to find the root cause and make the necessary repair. Get ahead of the mold by calling us now at 1-877-BEN-1776 or booking an appointment online.

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