Boys! Grow Giant Mushrooms in Your Basement!

Like an invading alien force, fungus, mold and mildew can invade your home, destroy structures and wreak havoc on your health.

Mold, mildew and fungus thrive in moist environments and for that reason can often be found in basements.  They grow on organic or porous material (paper, cloth, carpet, wood, insulation, etc.) and can usually be found in white, black, or blue colors.  They can look like streaks or clumps and they can be flat or raised.

This axis of basement evil can eat through the material they grow on, causing structural damage to your home.  To top it all off, they can also damage your health, giving you headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory loss and many other problems.  To find out more about how mold, mildew and fungus can affect your health, go the CDC’s website.

Fortunately, it’s possible to push back the invaders and prevent their return.

Photo courtesy of Nojhan

To remove existing mold:

  1. It is very important to wear protective gear when removing mold, mildew or fungus.  Becuase of the possible health problems you must wear a mask or respirator as well as gloves and eye protection.
  2. Open windows and doors to improve ventilation.
  3. To minimize the amount of airborne spores, dampen the affected areas.
  4. Clean affected areas:

-The best solution we’ve found is a product called Concrobium.  It does not contain bleach or any other irritating chemicals.  “Unlike traditional “wet kill” products, Concrobium works as it dries – hardening over the moldy surface to form an invisible film that physically crushes the mold micro-organism underneath.”  It also makes the surface mold-resistant.  You can also use it in a fogger making very large or inaccessible places easy to clean.  We’ve had a lot of success with this product.

-The traditional cleaning method usually involves bleach and water.  Porous materials are the hardest to clean.  The University of Georgia has instructions on how to clean the different items potentially affected.  It is best, though, to simply discard any porous materials that have been colonized.  Non-porous materials (metals, glass, hard plastic, etc) can be scrubbed clean with detergent, non-ammonia soap or a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.  (Remember to never mix ammonia and bleach as doing so can result in toxic fumes.)  After cleaning, dry all surfaces and run a dehumidifier.

       5.  Make sure the area is DRY before repainting and refurnishing.

To prevent future invaders:

  1. Control dampness; use your dehumidifier frequently and make sure you clean up any spills promptly.  Repair any leaky pipes, wall cracks or faulty window seals.
  2. Circulate the air.  Open windows when the air outside is drier then the air inside.  During humid weather, use electric fans.  Closets can trap moisture, so you may want to leave closet doors open and install fans.  It may also be necessary to install a ventilation fan for the whole area.  If you already have one, make sure the outside vent hasn’t become blocked.
  3. Keep the area as clean as possible.  Dirt and grease are nutritious for fungus, mold and mildew.

Click on Energy Star’s page for more information on how to prevent mold, mildew and fungus.

So, while fungus, mold and mildew may seem like formidable opponents, if you follow these guidelines, you won’t need to be Will Smith to fight these aliens.

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