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Basement Mold, Allergens, & Your Health

Mold growing on a door and on drywall in a humid basement.

Mold needs warmth (40 °F+) , humidity, and organic material to use as food.

There will always be enough warmth and organic material in your home for mold to survive. The only practical way to control mold is by controlling humidity.

If you're suffering from a stuffy nose, headache, or a similar allergic reaction that is present when you're at home but goes away shortly after you leave, take heed. There's a good chance that you're suffering from mold or other allergens present in your home.

Mold can grow in many places in the basement -- including places not visible for a homeowner, such as behind walls or underneath carpeting.

Basement Mold Can Grow:

  • On The Front & Back Of Drywall
  • On Floor Joists, Furniture, & Structural Wood
  • Inside Carpeting Materials
  • On Clothing, Cloth, & Stuffed Furniture
  • On Paper, Books, Photos, & Wallpaper

At Basement Systems, our experts specialize in creating drier, healthier environments in basements, and we have a custom-designed solution for you.

Get a Free EstimateWe have warranted solutions for wet and humid basements that have been used on basements worldwide for over 20 years!

If you'd like a free dry basement estimate, call or e-mail us today! Our estimates come at no obligation and include an on-site professional inspection, consultation, and a copy of our full-color book!

Mold and fungus growing on a floor joist in a basement.

When mold and rot grow unchecked on structural wood in a basement or crawl space, the wood will begin to weaken and break down.

This will eventually result in structural issues in the home, including uneven floors, cracks in drywall, "bouncy" floors, mold allergy issues, and similar problems.

Where Basement Mold Grows

Basement mold will grow on any organic materials within a building -- including on drywall, photos, and wood. It will also grow on latex-based paints, glue, adhesives, and on the dyes, resins, and paper backing of fiberglass insulation.

Mold can only survive on inorganic materials if they are covered in organic material, such as dust, paint, or dirt. At Basement Systems, we use only inorganic materials in our basement wall and floor products.

Mold In Finished Basements

If your basement is humid and is finished with organic remodeling materials, they will grow mold. Mold, mildew, and rot can grow on carpeting, cloth, and furniture, as well as wallpaper, drywall, and on the surface of latex-based paint.

Along with affecting your health, mold will give the space a musty, unpleasant smell, discolor materials, damage furniture, and make the finished basement a generally unpleasant place to spend time in.

How Serious Can A Basement Mold Problem Be?

Basement mold will affect the value of a home and will potentially seriously affect the health of those inhabiting the home. In some extreme cases, mold can even be toxic!

Just how bad can mold get? Here's a few pictures our experts have taken from the field:

(Click each photo to enlarge.)

An illustration, showing cool air entering a home from the bottom and warm air exiting the house from the top.

Basement air moves upwards in your home, pulled upwards by the vacuum created as hot air leaves the upper levels. Up to 50% of the air in your home comes from the basement or crawl space area.

Anything in that air, including mold spores, dust mite waste, and odors, travels upwards with this air.

How Mold Spores Affects Your Health

Mold spores are tiny things -- as small as 1.5 microns (0.00006 inches) in size.

The Journal of Property Management has reported that a single square inch of drywall can contain between 1 and 10 million mold spores. Time Magazine reports that there can be hundreds of thousands of mold spores in a cubic meter of air.

So how does this affect you, the homeowner? It only takes three to five spores to affect a human -- and a single person inhales 10-12 cubic meters of air daily!

Symptoms of mold include a runny nose, watery eyes, mild allergic reactions, headaches, a scratchy throat, nausea, fatigue, and general discomfort when breathing. In some extreme cases, mold has even proven to be toxic to those living in the home.

Mold spores can hang in the air of a house for weeks, and according to the National Association of Realtors, even dead mold can cause allergic reactions.

People at high risk include individuals with Asthma or allergies, those on medication, the elderly, pregnant women, children, and infants.

The American Journal of Epidemiology has reported that children living in homes with any dampness or mold exposure have a 50% increased risk of developing allergic rhinitis within 6 years, and a 100% increased risk after 6 years time. If you have a basement problem that includes flooding, humidity, or moisture, you have a classic example of this kind of environment in your home.

Dust Mites & Home Allergies

Along with mold spores, an often-overlooked allergen present in humid environments is the waste created by dust mites. These are tiny arachnids that feed off dust and similar organic materials, releasing their microscopic fecal material into the air.

If your home is damp or humid, there'll be an awful lot of this fecal material in the air. A thousand dust mites can live in a single gram of dust. Each dust mite will defecate about 20 times daily, creating 200 times its body weight in waste within two months. Female dust mites will begin to reproduce after ten days, laying 2-3 eggs daily and as many as 270 eggs during its lifetime.

Dust mite waste contains 15 potent allergies that can sensitize and trigger allergic reactions in the 10% of the general population that is sensitive to dust mite waste. Dust mite waste makes up 80-90% of the allergic component of house dust, and the National Wildlife Federation reports that they are an important cause of childhood asthma. In fact, American Family Physician cites controlling dust mites as "the most important thing you can do in your house to make your asthma and allergies better".

Mold & Your Home's Resale Value

Mold will dramatically lower the resale value and "buyer's appeal" of your home -- a $250,000 home can easily have $100,000 in mold problems. Mold can also lead to serious structural damage in your home, creating the need for expensive and time-consuming repairs.

Recently, Appraisal Journal conducted a study of how the presence of black mold will affect a home's value. Their findings? Only 58% of prospective home buyers with full information would bid to buy a home with mold contamination -- and the bid is discounted by so much that the seller immediately refuses the offer. Even when the mold problem is believed to be cured, the top 25% of bidders still discounted the value of the home by 20% or more.

The best way to avoid mold in your home to address moisture, humidity, and flooding as soon as you find it -- before the mold can grow.

Mold growing thickly on the back of a drywall and stud finished basement.

Our SaniDry™ XP dehumidification system is a self-draining, energy efficient system that's strong enough to dry the entire basement.

It includes an air filtration system that can remove dust mite waste and some mold spores from the air. A powerful blower motor allows it to dehumidify your basement while located in a closet or utility area.

Controlling Basement Mold & Dust Mites

Both mold and dust mites need some warmth to survive, as well as organic materials to feed on, and relative humidity levels above 60%.

We know that it doesn't take much organic material to allow for growth of mold and dust mites -- your home will always have enough for them to survive. And we've seen mold grow in refrigerators, so we know that we can never keep our house cold enough to prevent its growth.

What we can do to prevent mold growth in our homes is to control the humidity and moisture levels.

Four Steps To Control Mold:

  1. Eliminate all sources of standing water
  2. Throw out all porous organic materials that show mold or mildew growth
  3. Seal all vents and concrete surfaces
  4. Install a powerful dehumidifier

The key to preventing mold and dust mites from thriving in your basement is to install a powerful basement dehumidifier. It should include a blowing motor that can circulate air throughout the entire basement, drying the entire space thoroughly.

We Can Help You Control Mold & Dust Mites In Your Basement!

Our basement experts are standing by to help you create a cleaner, drier, healthier basement space. Our warranted waterproofing systems, energy efficient dehumidifiers, waterproof wall products and basement flooring install quickly and permanently enhance the value of your home.

Whether you live in Canada or the United States, we have a locally owned and operated dealer in your neighborhood. For a free dry basement estimate, call or e-mail us today!

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Quality, Innovation, Patents, Awards

Our innovative and forward-thinking approach to designing products has solved wet basement problems that the basement waterproofing and crawl space industry has faced for decades, and our patented sump pump systems are the smartest and most reliable. Plus we listen to our customers and respond accordingly! Basement Systems Inc. has been awarded 24 Patents and 19 Innovation Prizes on waterproofing products we use every day, including a battery back up sump pump system. This approach ensures the best waterproofing systems and solutions available.