When searching for a new home, a lot of people are thrilled to find one with a basement. Basements can be a great addition to any house as another living space, extra storage, or even a rentable apartment in some cases. But what about THAT SMELL when you walk into some? That stale, musty basement smell that happens in so many underground spaces is most commonly attributable to mold and mildew.
Mold and mildew build up in spaces that are dark, not well ventilated, and have a high moisture level. Over time, these conditions allow mold spores to multiply and mildew to grow on surfaces such as wallpaper, insulation, ceiling tiles, wood, etc. Unpleasant odors may seem unbearable, but there are several other side effects that can be far worse when left untreated. High mold and mildew content can cause breathing issues, allergic reactions, and asthma as well as a risk of physical damage to your home’s structure in extreme cases.
If you notice that your basement is starting to smell, there are a few things you can do to prevent the mold from taking over …
- In older homes with bare-bones basements (dirt floors and plain cinderblock, brick, or concrete walls) your best line of defense is to lay down a vapor barrier on the floor and then cover it with wire and a thin layer of concrete. You may also need to coat your walls with a mold-resistant paint to prevent growth on them.
- If your home already has a concrete floor and you are still having issues, there are a number of things that could be at fault. The most common issues in this case are poor drainage around the foundation, a cracked foundation, or an internal plumbing issue.
Depending on the severity of your mold or mildew situation, you may be able to handle it yourself or you may have to call in a professional. Many hardware stores carry sprays and solutions you can use if you have a minor mold issue, such as around a window or pipe that gathers condensation. If you have a large issue, are unsure of where the smell is coming from, or the mold comes back quickly and repeatedly, you will need to call in a professional and get it tested and remediated by them.
Once the mold is remediated, you have a few options to keep it from coming back. The easiest option is to install a dehumidifier to keep the moisture content of the room down. If your mold is growing around a window with condensation, it may be time to reseal or replace the window. Insulating pipes that may collect condensation and lend moisture to the room is another good step to take. Additionally, if you have the money to spare and desire for more livable space, there are several basement finishing companies that will help you ensure your issue won’t be returning and will also provide you with another space in your home to enjoy.