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Flooded Basement Causes Black Mold Problem
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Q. Nov. 29, 2011. Received the boric acid powder delivery from your company today. That was fast! I read a lot of what was online about how to do mold cleaning for basement  and basement drain mold growth. Unfortunately the only thing we can't do is the first step - stop the water from seeping into the French drain.  Not sure why mold is collecting in one area of the basement when the drain carries water to the sump pump from all around. But, assuming it's mold, we'll spray it with the boric acid solution 2x to kill it, and then remove it while keeping it contained, then paint (because the wall was painted previously).  We thought we'd spray the area with boric acid once a month to keep it away. Sound good?

    A.
I'm glad that post office was quick to deliver boric acid powder to you. Be sure to read the 25 steps for effective mold removal. May I suggest that you wear a N-95 breathing mask (low cost from pharmacy or home improvement or hardware store) and disposable vinyl gloves when doing this mold removal in your basement drain area to avoid breathing in, and touching, mold spores thrown into the air during the cleaning process and on the surfaces you are cleaning.   The first time, scrub the French drain and surrounding floor and walls areas with a hard bristle brush soaking with boric acid (one pound per gallon of hot water, and keep it mixed by stirring during your work).
When you repaint the wall, mix into the paint two cups of boric acid powder gallon of paint to make the paint very anti-mold.   After you have done a strong first cleaning, your idea of  monthly boric spaying (same mix formula) with a hand-held spray bottle or a $40 hand pumped garden sprayer is very good for prevention of mold re-occurrence. If I may be of further help, please email me. Thanks Phillip

    Q. October 24, 2011. Thank you for posting your mold prevention web site. My home is located in state of Rhode Island. I hired an industrial hygienist consultant to take air sample of my home and the results came back as black spores or the most known to causing health problems. The cellar has a sump pump and gets wet after the rainy spring season - the sump pump keeps up with the water but the floor is still damp until the ground water table levels - it can also happen after a freak constant 4-5 days of straight rain. Is there anything I can do to clean up such a problem or assure a contractor is not making it worse and costing me more money.

     A. Can you email me a copy of the mold lab report to envirodangers@yahoo.com for my review and comment?  Was only one mold sample collected from the air of your home? Just one air sampling is very inadequate to know the true extent of your house's mold problem.  The continually wet basement during the rainy season means high cellar high humidity. If the humidity during the rainy season exceeds 70% in the cellar, there is likely to be extensive mold growth on the walls, ceiling, floor, and stored items in the cellar. Take a strong flashlight and examine closely the cellar basement, ceiling, floor, and contents for mold growth, and then email me as to what you discover.  Basement mold growth can easily grow upwards into the insides of the walls and floors above. In addition, airborne mold spores from the basement can travel upward in air currents to mold cross contaminate your entire house.  Your best mold treatment of the cellar would start with your using a hand-pumped garden sprayer (about $40 from a large hardware store or home improvement center) to spray boric acid powder (available from us at http://www.moldmart.net) mixed with hydrogen peroxide on all cellar walls, ceiling, and floor.  The mix formula of boric with hydrogen peroxide as the most effective mold killer and mold remover is posted on the boric page of Mold Mart.  You need to be concerned about mold cross contamnation from the basement into your upstairs living area and heating/cooling equipment and ducts. May I suggest that you buy at Mold Mart and read carefully two of my mold advice ebooks Mold Health Guide and Do It Best Yourself Mold Inspection, Testing, Remediation, and Prevention, sent to you by email attachment for only $15 each from Mold Mart. Please email me any mold followup questions you may have. Hiring a mold contractor is not a good solution because most mold contractors are over-priced and they do an inadequate, poorly done mold remediation job. Best wishes, Phillip Fry, Certified Environmental Hygienist, Certified Mold Inspector, and Certified Mold Remediator.

         Q.  I have a damp basement. There is no mold present on the walls/floor etc. Once in a while, there will be mold sometimes on a cardboard box. This does not occur on all boxes, though. When my son who is 11 goes down there, his eyes get red and itchy and he sneezes. Is there something I can do to find out the culprit? We do have carpet in the basement. The basement is damp and we do have a dehumidifier. [Nov. 22, 2004]
        A. A damp basement provides plenty of moisture for mold to grow well in your basement. Basement mold can easily grow into the floors and walls above. In addition, airborne mold spores from the basement mold can travel in air currents to mold cross contaminate your entire house and its heating/cooling system. Your first step is to mold test the air of the basement, each room above, the attic, garage, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test. Use do it yourself mold test kits from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store, or hire a Certified Mold Inspector. Learn the 25 recommended steps for safe and effective mold abatement and mold remediation. Become your own effective mold expert to improve your personal home or apartment environmental safety and/or the environmental health of your investment properties by reading all three of our mold advice, email delivered books [Mold Health Guide 2012 Edition, $15; Mold Legal Guide, $15; and Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, & Remediation, $15].
 
      
Q.  I had to relocate the incoming water pipe  two years ago. At the time, the basement wall leaked only when sustained downpours occurred, and quite frankly, they are rare. In fact, I have had boxes of odds and ends stored in the basement area for several years prior to the water pipe relocation. The problem is, now that the pipe has been relocated to the west basement wall, I have discovered that water is infiltrating the basement, some through the crawl space, and some directly through the wall. It doesn't happen all the time, but newfound evidence indicates that when it does happen, that it has soaked into the boxes and much of the odds and ends in the boxes. I discovered this earlier this spring when I started cleaning the basement out (to have a yard sale). Several weeks ago I made a concerted attempt at ridding the basement of the affected, obviously once wet materials, and for my effort I ended up with little sores on the back of my hand that when popped (they itched like nothing else), they then bled, scabbed over, and healed. After they disappeared, I again attempted to clean the basement, only I went into the job intent on removing everything from the area. The sores haven't returned, but now my wife is suffering a systemic itching--at first (two weeks ago) a rash appeared all over her and the doctor put her on corticosteroids. The itching went away. This last weekend I again went downstairs to tackle the cleaning--broom in hand. Now my wife is itching again--no rash--but itching much more intense than before. Now I fear that working in the basement has stirred up some bad buggies caused by the wetting of the basement since the water pipe relocation. I'm actually considering  tossing everything coming out of the basement and hiring somebody to complete the cleaning before calling an inspector--but I'm still concerned that the itching currently driving my wife crazy could be caused by the basements damp condition, however, there is no mention (among symptoms) of itching being among them, although a rash is possible. Your opinion please, and I apologize for the long-winded story leading up to the nitty-gritty. [May 11, 2004]
          A. Your family's serious mold-like health symptoms and the existence of both a wet crawl space and a wet basement mean you are going to have a large scale mold infestation in your home. Mold in basements and crawl spaces can easily grow into the floors and walls above. In addition, airborne mold spores from both areas can travel in air current movements to mold cross-contaminate your entire house and its heating/cooling equipment and ducts.  For these reasons, your wise action is total mold testing of your home with do it yourself mold test kits from a large hardware or home improvement store. Your first mold investigative step is to use do it yourself mold test kits [self observation of results over a 5 to 7 day time period, or send in for mold lab analysis] to mold test the air of each room, attic, basement, crawl space, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test which you should also do. If you see any visible mold growth, from each moldy area, scrape some of the mold particles into a separate mold test kit per testing location for observation over a 5 to 7 day time period, and/or for mold lab analysis. When scraping mold into a test kit, you would be wise to use a breathing air respirator [Home Depot or Lowe’s or a safety store] so that you don’t breathe in extra mold spores that you put into the air by scraping some mold-like substances into each mold test kit.   The mold test kits come with detailed use instructions to make your tests informative and helpful in mold problem diagnosis. You can also read online our copyrighted form “Meaning of Mold Test Results.”  Use do it yourself mold test kits from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store. You may have to do expensive [digging out the dirt] on the outside of your basement walls to adequately waterproof the wet basement wall[s]. Alternatively, you can build a 3 inch thick concrete liner [full of waterproofing compound] just inside your present basement walls and above the present floor to make your basement waterproof. Your crawl space [once mold remediated] should have a concrete floor [with adequate waterproofing compound] to stop water from rising out of the ground to cause high humidity and mold growth on crawl space wood. You may also have to install in the crawl space an exhaust fan that turns on when a certain temperature OR a certain humidity level [e.g., 50%] is reached inside the crawl space. Learn the steps required for safe and effective mold abatement and mold remediation.

 
     
Q. I think I have found black mold in our basement shower. I don't want to turn a claim into our insurance company because I fear it will cause our insurance price to raise. Our basement has flooded a couple of times in the past few years. I've been using bleach to take off the mold. Is this sufficient?  I've been reading some of the stories on your Q&A section and we have also had to snake our drains once a year for the past several years. We have many old trees around our house and my husband says the roots are the problem but should I be concerned about mold there as well? The shower is concrete slab and the bleach is slowly removing it. I'm also removing mold from the basement ceiling  and removing carpet that it was under. Is this something I can continue on my own using bleach and thoroughly cleaning or would it be best handled professionally? June 30, 2003

       A. Bleach is too weak to be an effective mold killer. Learn why bleach is ineffective for killing mold on porous surfaces like building materials, please visit: Bleach and Mold. Learn the 25 steps for safe and effective mold remediation.  Even more important to you is to find the water source that enables mold to grow in your basement. You cannot continue to have basement floods if you want to rid your home of mold. Stopping water problems must be your number one mold remediation step!  You also need to remove all visible mold in accordance with the precise steps recommended at Mold Abatement and Mold Remediation. You also need to inspect and mold test the rooms above the basement, your attic, and your heating and cooling equipment and ducts for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, which, if present, would be a sure sign of a serious mold infestation problem. With as much flooding and mold growth as your house has experienced in the basement, your upstairs is possibly mold-contaminated through cross-contamination by airborne mold spores.

 

Photograph of basement mold growing on basement walls and floor.
                                    Basement mold growing on the floor and walls.

Photograph of mold growing in basement.
                                                   Basement mold growth.

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Do-it-yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing, and Remediation Guide.Do-It-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing, & Remediation

The Do-It-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing & Remediation enables you [or others working under your directions] to do your own mold repairs on your home or other real estate property so that: (1) you can be assured that the mold-related work was done both safely and effectively; (2) you protect your family's health and the value of your home or other property; and (3) you get your property mold work done at a small fraction of the cost of hiring so-called "mold professionals" to do the mold necessary mold prevention, inspection, testing, and remediation. This book is extremely valuable and helpful to you even if you plan to hire a Certified Mold Inspector or Certified Mold Remediator to do the work because you need to know precisely what steps and procedures are required to be done by the contractor or remediator to achieve safe and effective mold remediation. More information...

 

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For mold inspection, mold remediation, and mold prevention for your real estate property anywhere in the world, please contact
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