What Causes Mold in a Basement?

Mold can pose serious health risks to you, your family and your pets – and that’s true even if it’s “only” in your basement, where you never spend much time.

But what causes mold in a basement, and what can you do about it if it’s in yours? Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Mold in a Basement?

Even if your basement is spotlessly clean, the fact remains that it’s underground – and because it’s underground, it’s more likely to be damp than most other areas of your home.

Mold spores are everywhere. They’re in the air we breathe (even clean air), on the surfaces where we walk, and everywhere you can imagine. These tiny spores float until they find a safe haven, and when they do, they settle down and create colonies. Mold colonies have one goal, and that’s to reproduce; they begin producing more and more spores, which then fill the air looking for a new place to settle down.

Basements are great places for mold to develop. There’s very little natural light, air flow is usually insufficient, and conditions are damp enough for huge mold colonies to thrive. Mold feeds on just about anything it touches, including drywall, wood, clothing and fabric. The bottom line is that mold can grow in any dark, damp and moderately warm area; when conditions are right, a colony can begin to develop within 24 hours.

The main causes of mold in a basement include:

  • Excess moisture. If there’s a crack in your foundation or any of your basement walls, if water comes in through a window, or if water drains right near your home, your basement can (and probably will) become damp.
  • Leaks in the walls. Sometimes water that leaks in through your roof or from a pipe in your walls can lead to mold. That’s because these leaks don’t always come out in the open; the space inside your walls is dark and damp, and mold spores can really thrive there.
  • If your basement floods, you need to work with a flooding specialist to dry out your space. Flood water can increase humidity, too, so even areas that weren’t touched by the water become instantly more susceptible to mold. If you don’t start to dry the area within 24 hours, you’re almost inviting mold to thrive in your basement.

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