How to Solve House Mold
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk about moldy basements with Steve in Tennessee.
Steve, what’s going on?
STEVE: Oh, not much. You doing alright?
LESLIE: We’re doing good. Tell us about your basement situation.
STEVE: Well, it’s actually in the house. I have a basement under my house but the mold is in the house itself; just in the different rooms like on the ceiling – you know, like where it’s coming through the ceiling; maybe from the attic or something like that. And all we have as far as heat is gas heat in the house; you know, the wall heaters.
LESLIE: And is this something that’s happening all the time or do you notice the mold after a heavy rainfall or a particularly rainy season?
STEVE: It pretty much happens all the time during the winter time, you know.
TOM: And is your basement – does your basement get wet, Steve?
STEVE: No, it’s not a finished basement. You know, there’s still a lot of dirt down there.
STEVE: It’s not blocked up or anything.
TOM: Ah, there’s a lot of dirt down there. So it’s got a dirt floor? So it’s probably …
LESLIE: Which is just like a feeding ground.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it’s a lot of – it’s basically a moisture generator.
TOM: You’re probably getting a lot of humidity. You know there’s a number of things that you have to do, Steve.
Leslie, I think the first thing he needs to do is to reduce the volume of moisture that’s getting into the house by improving the grading and the drainage outside.
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s a couple of things you can do to help you with the moisture situation inside. You want to check, outside, all of your gutters. Make sure that they’re clean as often as you can. You don’t have to be on it all the time but make sure that the gutters are empty so that when the water actually gets into it, it doesn’t just sort of spill over and then deposit the water right back into your foundation area. Also your downspouts. Make sure that they deposit the water about three feet away from the house. Don’t let it just deposit the water right, again, next to the foundation.
And then check your grading around the area of your house. Make sure that the water is not rolling towards the house. Make sure that all of your grading goes away from the house. And you’re looking for a slope of about six inches over four feet, so it’s not drastic but it’s enough to get things moving away.
TOM: OK, Steve, now inside the house what I’d like to suggest you do is add a dehumidifier to that basement area so we’re really sucking all the moisture out of that. Because that moisture is what’s getting up throughout your house and condensing, leaving moisture on the drywall and that’s what’s giving the mold a place to basically grow.
Now with the small areas of mold that you have right now, what I would suggest you do is take some bleach, mix it up with a water solution – probably one part bleach, two parts water – and spray any place you see mold starting to grow so that the mold is killed. And then once you let it sit for a few minutes, you can wipe it off. But if you dry out your house and you don’t let it build up, you’re going to see a lot less of that stuff around.
STEVE: Alright, let me ask you this. We’re checking on now about getting central heat put in the house. Like I said, all we have now is the gas wall units.
TOM: The wall units?
STEVE: Would that help that?
TOM: It would because it will give you – it will give you a drier indoor environment. Now these wall units, are they forced-air units?
STEVE: No, they’re (inaudible) heaters; just infrared heaters is what they are.
TOM: Oh, definitely it will make a big difference; especially if you put forced air. And it’ll be less expensive than running the infrared as well. Yeah, it’ll be a lot drier because you’ll be pulling that moisture throughout the – as it goes into the heating system, it basically dries right up.
STEVE: We’ve got a dehumidifier; just the in-room – you know, the portable kind you just roll around.
STEVE: But it fills up so quick and we’re gone during the week. We both drive a truck and we can’t leave it running all week because when it cuts off, somebody has to empty it.
TOM: Yeah, I – well, the other thing that you can do is you can add a condensate pump to that – it’s a small pump that will pump it out automatically – or run it to a sump. But I think if you install central heat instead of the wall heaters, you’re going to find that it’s a lot drier in the house and a lot more comfortable not only for the mold situation but even for your furniture and for your personal comfort.
STEVE: Right, right. Yeah, because we can tell the difference in the house; I mean just the moisture and stuff in the house.
TOM: Exactly. OK, Steve?
STEVE: Well, I sure appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.