Dampness, Sickness And Mold, Oh My! What's Lurking In Your Basement And Why?

A dark, damp basement is often the stuff of nightmares, and not just because a basement is often reminiscent of your favorite horror movie scenes. Your damp basement is a breeding ground for mold spores that can cause severe respiratory illnesses. Fortunately, knowing what lurks in your basement and why can help you address the problem before it gets out of hand.

Pesky Puddles

Do you frequently see damp spots or puddles in your basement, even when you haven't seen rain for days or even weeks? Damp spots and puddles on your basement floor could indicate that you have a foundation problem. During the early morning hours, you will often notice that your lawn is covered in moisture, referred to as dew. That moisture can seep into your basement if you have a crack in your foundation.

Cracks in your foundation can also allow moist, humid air to seep into your basement, which causes condensation. The walls and floors of your basement often feel cooler than the temperature outside your home. When the cooler temperatures of your basement come in contact with moist, warm air from the outside, it causes "sweating." Sweaty walls and floors create droplets of water that cause damp spots and puddles.

Ill-Fated Illnesses and Mold

Moisture in your basement creates an ideal environment for mold growth. Although toxic mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is a major cause for concern, cases involving toxic mold are few and far between. Toxic mold produces mycotoxins, which can cause ill-fated memory loss, pulmonary bleeding and respiratory troubles. Thankfully, the presence of toxic mold and the severe illnesses that go along with it are rare.

On the other hand, your home may contain the following common molds:

  • AlternariaDoes not require a lot of water, thrives in soil and sewage, can leak into your basement through foundation cracks, can trigger asthma, hay fever and hypersensitivity.
  • AspergillusOne of the most common mold species, thrives in soil and compost, can infiltrate your basement through a damaged foundation, water requirements vary, can cause asthma, hay fever, and Malt worker's lung (a type of pneumonitis).
  • CladosporiumOne of the most widespread molds, thrives in soil and plant debris, can enter your home through your foundation, can trigger asthma, hypersensitivity and allergic reactions.
  • PenicilliumPrefers soil, plant debris and rotted fruit, thrives in water damaged buildings or materials, can invade a wet, dark basement, can cause asthma, hay fever, hypersensitivity and allergies.

Dampening the Dampness

Now that you know what lurks in your basement and why, it is time to dampen the dampness to remove the threat of illnesses and costly damages. Start by hiring a foundation repair specialist to fix any cracks and weak spots in your foundation. Addressing foundation problems will prevent moisture from entering your basement.

Although fixing your foundation will lessen the amount of humidity within your basement, humidity may still exist, particularly when the temperature outside your home fluctuates. One overlooked way to ensure your basement is free and clear of dampness is to install a dehumidifier. Many foundation repair specialists can recommend a dehumidifier that will prevent the buildup of moisture within your basement.

If your budget is limited, you do not have to pay for an expensive dehumidifier. You can always opt for a more affordable portable dehumidifier. Depending on the size of your basement, you may need more than one portable unit. As a general rule of thumb, the humidity level in your basement should remain between 30%-50%. Anything over 60% creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth.

Contact a foundation repair specialist near you. Try this and remove the dangers and dampness lurking in your basement. Let the specialist know that you have had trouble with your damp basement. The specialist will inspect your foundation to determine the best approach for repairs that best suits your budget.