How to Get Rid of That Musty Smell in the Basement

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Do you experience headaches or nausea when you spend five minutes in your basement? That’s because there’s funky mold growing all over. If you have grand plans of converting your basement into a billiard room or gym, your priority is eliminating mildew smells.

The sooner you get rid of that musty smell, the better your chances of preventing mold from spreading to nearby rooms. Today, we’ll look at how to identify, eradicate, and prevent mold resurgence inside a basement.

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1. How can I make my basement smell better?

1. Leaking pipes

Mold grows in areas with high humidity and poor ventilation. When you have leaking pipes inside your basement, the water droplets that evaporate condense on other surfaces. This constant evaporation and condensation bring about high humidity making it easy for mold to thrive.

2. Cracks in the walls and floors

Humidity varies with weather seasons. It tends to get higher during rainy and snowy days making it easier for mold spores to develop into patches. When air flows inside your basement, moisture gets trapped inside cracks and crevices on the floor and walls.

3. Poor floor drainage system?

Does water remain stagnant at a particular corner? Just like leaking pipes, this is the source of high humidity inside your basement. You’ll notice dark mold spots around this area where moisture tends to collect.

4. Faulty air conditioning & heating system

An air conditioning & heating unit system keeps a home mold-free by maintaining good circulation and low humidity levels. A faulty unit might circulate air in just one direction, making the rest of your basement habitable to growing mold and germinating spores.

5. Presence of thick carpets

Carpets with dense fibers have high absorption and retention rates. Mold patches love such environments because it’s always damp and receives poor air flow. As the mold multiplies rapidly, you’ll notice the unbearable musty smell.

6. Poor ventilation

A constant supply of fresh air carries away moisture and mold spores inside confined spaces. Mold in poorly ventilated areas reproduces at high rates due to high moisture and low oxygen concentration.

7. Unfinished walls

Have you ever noticed how unfinished stonewalls tend to have visible wet patches when it rains or snows? When patches appear on your basement walls, the evaporating moisture condenses on nearby surfaces. Just like leaking pipes, unfinished basement walls provide constant moisture.

2. How to remove mold in your basement

1. Repair all leaking pipes

Fixing your leaking pipes directly reduces the amount of humidity on the ceiling and nearby walls. This makes it hard for black mold to thrive or spores to germinate into patches.

2. Fill up cracks on your floor and walls

Repairing your floor and walls does two things. It prevents moisture from condensing inside crevices and turn into breeding grounds. Second, doing this kills all invisible mold spores found all over the place.

3. Fix the floor drainage system

Mold thrives on damp floors and this is hard to treat with general mold cleaners. You need to get rid of the excess humidity by fixing your drainage system. Repair any holes in your floor to prevent flowing water from stagnating at certain spots.

4. Repair or replace your air conditioning & heating unit

Mold cannot thrive in confined spaces with good airflow and high temperature. Start planning on repairs or purchasing a new unit if your current one is outdated. Also, adhere to a good maintenance routine to keep your basement mold-free for years and years.

5. Replace carpets with rubber mats

Mold thrives inside carpets made using fur. Earlier on, we saw that this happens due to low evaporation rates. The good news is that you can get high-quality rubber mats to replace your current carpets.

6. Improve your ventilation

Consider hiring a qualified basement-remodeling contractor to assess your ventilation. You might need to reposition your windows for maximum airflow. To maximize this, you might need to purchase a large ceiling fan.

7. Finish up your basement walls

Wet patches on unfinished walls enable the growth and reproduction of mold patches. Failing to complete unfinished walls leads to mold spreading all over within a short time.

8. Use the right mold remover

Several strains of mold grow inside confined spaces. So, there’s no universal cleaner for your basement. You’ll need to purchase a mold test kit and collect samples for lab analysis. The analysis experts then recommend suitable mold removers.

3. How to prevent mold in your basement

1. Open your windows during the day

Mold thrives in rooms with poor ventilation. You can avoid this by keeping your basement windows open to avoid moisture buildup. Doing this also prevents condensation in low areas such as beneath your couch or coffee table. The sun’s ultraviolet light also kills mold cells and spores instantly.

2. Keep your floor and walls clean

Always vacuum your floor frequently to trap any mold spores hidden under furniture and shelves. Clean your walls with good mold cleaners to prevent resurgence.

3. Buy a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier allows you to regulate humidity levels inside your home or office. You really need one for a basement that’s previously experienced a mold outbreak for two reasons. A dehumidifier kills any living mold spores brought in by the outdoor air.

Second, it reduces humidity to a point where any unspotted mold patches dry up and die due to severe dehydration.  4. Get an air purifier

An air purifier contains powerful features designed to trap and decompose odor molecules. In addition, they contain medical-grade air filtration systems that trap airborne mold spores to prevent them from developing into patches.

4.  5 reasons why mold keeps coming back in the basement

1. Shoddy pipe repairs

We’ve seen how leaking pipes contribute to excess humidity levels inside basements. Even after following the four steps on how to prevent mold from coming back, resurgence might occur. However, this occurs commonly when previously repaired pipes start leaking again.

2. Using bleach instead of mold cleaners to scrub infested areas

Some people wrongly assume that the pungent chemicals found in bleach are capable of killing mold. Truth is, bleach only damages portions of mold patches. The parts that fell to the floor can regenerate after a couple of weeks inside damp basements.

3. Painted over mold patches with regular paint

This is another widely spread myth as far as mold removal goes. Paint might kill some mold although it doesn’t kill mold spores present on walls. The spores can mature and eat through the paint while developing into black slimy patches.

4. Doing shoddy cleaning

If a person refused to thoroughly clean areas beneath furniture or wet ceilings, he or she actually gives mold spores a chance to regenerate. Shoddy cleaning makes it easy for someone to miss developing patches growing in corners.

5. Using the wrong type of cleaner

It’s wrong to assume that any type of mold cleaner will eradicate mold in your basement. Remember, each mold strain responds differently to certain chemicals. Using bad cleaners could actually enhance the mold’s resistance to removers.

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5. Can mold in your house make you sick?

Yes, it can. Here are four ways it directly affects your health.

1. Mold allergy

Have you ever experienced itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing just a few minutes after stepping inside your basement? Mold allergy occurs when the body reacts to spores present in air flowing down your lungs.

2. Triggers asthma attacks

People with asthma react differently to mold spores. Due to their sensitive airway, the presence of spores forces the airway to swell rapidly. This leads to an attack since the airway is desperately trying to block the spores from spreading.

3. Nose and throat infections

Airborne spores are dangerous to your nose and throat. Some spores settle in these areas because just like basements, they’re dark and highly humid. As they develop, they start consuming cells and tissues in your nose and throat.

4. Nausea

The musty smell can affect pregnant women so bad that they throw up. It also affects children in a similar manner.

5. Headaches

Confined spaces infested with large mold patches usually have low amounts of oxygen. Spending a short time inside such a basement brings about headaches because the brain cannot function efficiently with insufficient oxygen.

6. Skin infections

Exposure to black mold can cause Sporotrichosis. You’ll notice a pink or purple node that develops into a wound. Other types of mold cause rashes and dry patches of skin.

Keep your basement mold free!

Based on this post, you’ll see that eliminating and preventing mold is easy and doesn’t require a huge budget. As long as you have good ventilation, you’ll prevent the growth and spread of mold. The inflowing air keeps your basement smelling clean while the sun kills all airborne mold spores.

Make sure you get a dehumidifier to control humidity levels inside your basement. Why? Because when temperatures drop at night, moisture condenses. A dehumidifier minimizes condensation by reducing humidity.

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