To prevent mould from taking over in your basement and potentially affecting your family’s respiratory health, you need to do two sets of things. The first five of these involve keeping dampness out of the basement in the first place. The second are about maintaining the right environment down there.
Five Ways to Keep Damp Out
- Make sure the rain water can’t filter through the ground by managing run-off comprehensively. Slope the ground away, lead downpipe discharges through culverts, put down paving. These inexpensive steps will yield impressive results after the earth dries out.
- Inspect the basement walls and floor for cracks, and check that the joints between them are well caulked. The same applies to any point where pipes penetrate.
- Make sure the water supply to appliances and bathroom fittings is absolutely leak-proof. The slightest drip can permeate walls and floors and become a perfect breeding-ground for mould. If in doubt, ask a leak specialist to do some tests.
- The same logic applies to drains, although here you’ll probably need a licensed plumber to put a remote camera down and check. Leaking drains and sewers may constitute an added hazard, especially when there’s mould around as well.
- Check the outside doors and windows for any water-stains indicative of a leak. Window wells, window sills and door thresholds are likely places. If you encounter rot, replace the item immediately.
Five Ways to Keep Mould Away
- Maintain the humidity level between 45% and 60% using humidifiers and dehumidifiers according to the season. Vent the clothes drier, install a bathroom extraction fan, think of how you could contribute to the problem.
- Ensure air movement using ceiling and wall-mount fans. Mould grows naturally on rotten trees in damp forests where the air is still. Don’t store old bits of wood down there. Consider installing plastic furniture and fittings.
- Resist the urge to soften the environment by growing pot plants and keeping tropical fish in a heated tank. All you’re doing is inviting mould to move in, and it’s a pain to get rid of afterwards.
- Reconsider your panelling and carpets. Anything that originally comes from plants may be good for mould but bad news for you. Mould could also be lurking behind them from where it sends out spores. If in doubt, rip it out and replace it with something that’s more suitable.
- Once a month wipe the surfaces down with a damp cloth moistened with a small amount of bleach. If it comes away blackened then you’ve stopped mould in its tracks. If not then you’ve likely got it licked.
These are simple things the average homeowner may care to try. However one idea on its own will usually not do the job. Taken together they form a system that has a good chance of success. Should they fail, then you have a more deep-seated problem. You need advice from a basement water-proofing expert.