LESLIE: Cathy in Illinois is dealing with a mold situation in the basement. Tell us about the problem.
CATHY: Hi, my daughter and my son-in-law purchased a home about three years ago and the first year, they didn’t notice any smell of mold in the summertime. And then they painted the walls and put carpet on the floor and now the last two summers they’ve noticed the mold smell but there is no mold. And I’m just wondering …
LESLIE: There probably is mold, Cathy; it’s just in a place where your kids can’t see it. It’s probably living in that carpeting because when you’re dealing with a basement situation – and they probably put the carpet directly on top of the carpet slab; you know, didn’t sort of lift the floor slightly to create some air underneath to circulate out that moisture – what you’re doing is you’re putting an organic substance – the carpeting, the carpeting padding – right on the concrete. Now, when it rains outside, the ground gets super-wet and then the concrete floor is like a sponge and it just sucks everything from the earth around the house up through the floor and now into this carpet, which is why they’re getting the mold smell. So they can’t see it but I guarantee you it’s in there.
LESLIE: Do the kids have a forced-air system in the house?
CATHY: Yeah, they do.
LESLIE: They do. And is there ducting in the basement area?
CATHY: The ducting is but there’s nothing for the cooling or the heat; nothing down there.
LESLIE: So yeah. So, there are no registers. Because had there been registers – I mean maybe it’s worth adding something to the basement for the benefit of it because you can get a whole-home dehumidifier which gets built into the HVAC system and then it can focus on that basement 24 hours a day until it regulates the situation and then only kick on when it needs for that area. But it can remove up to 90 pints of water a day and you never have to empty a bucket. But I mean since they don’t have ducting down there – or registers, I should say – I think the best bet is to get portable dehumidifiers; get a condensation pump – condensation pump; is that what I’m talking about?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm, yep.
LESLIE: Because you don’t want to have to deal with a bucket because you’ll forget and then all of a sudden you’ll go on vacation, it’ll get full and then you’ll forget about it for a week and then you’re dealing with that same moisture situation. So if you get a condensation pump, it’ll lift out that water out a window into a sink, somewhere where it’s constantly emptying that dehumidifier.
And once they get a handle on that, if they look outside and deal with where this moisture might be coming in – gutters, downspouts, the grading around the house – that’ll really cut back on the amount of moisture that’s getting in and reduce that mold and mildew.
CATHY: Right. So the condensation pump connects to the dehumidifier, then?
TOM: Yeah, it sits next to it and it’s a very …
LESLIE: Is it a condensation or a condensate? I know I’m …
TOM: Condensate. Condensate pump.
LESLIE: Condensate. I know I always confuse them. Sorry.
TOM: Yeah. Condensate pump. But it’s a small box. It’s maybe about 6”x12” or something like that. It’s float-activated; so as it fills up it pumps on and it lifts the water out and drops it outside. I have one in my basement and it works great.
CATHY: OK. OK, thanks for your help, guys.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And ask our two cents next before you want to put basement carpet down, will ya? It’s not a good idea.