Basement Moisture: Humidity Is Key To Keeping Mold At Bay

Household mold is a very common concern among homeowners. This is particularly true in the basement where excess moisture is common, which can quickly result in mold growth. The key to reducing the potential risk of mold in the basement is humidity. By maintaining humidity levels, you can help ensure that all household occupants are comfortable and healthy. Read on to learn more about adequate humidity percentages as well as the causes and remedies of excess moisture in the basement.

Proper Levels of Humidity

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your home's indoor humidity levels should be between 30 and 60 percent. Ideally, it is best to keep relative humidity below 50 percent. When levels go above this, it can lead to dripping pipes, damp walls and mildew-covered surfaces.

One would assume that it would be easy to control the levels of humidity in the home, but it isn't as simple as it may sound. For example, bathing, cooking and washing/drying clothes can cause the humidity levels in the house to rise too high. This results in excess moisture that can lead to the growth of harmful mildew and mold.

Causes of Excess Moisture in the Basement

There are a number of reasons why your basement may have excess moisture. Some of these include:

  • Inadequate Grading
  • Missing of Faulty Gutters and Downspouts
  • Improperly Designed Window Wells
  • Ineffective Drain Pipe and Sump Pit
  • Improper Under Slab Duct Drainage
  • Cracks in the Structure

How to Control and Maintain Adequate Humidity

Some of these things you may be able to do on your own, while others will likely require the assistance of a professional.

  1. Make sure that your home's exterior has a sloped grade so that water is moved away from instead of toward the foundation.
  2. You also need to extend your down spouts to ensure they are several feet away from your home's foundation. Don't forget to check gutters and ensure no debris is lodged in them.
  3. After extremely humid weather and heavy rains, make sure to use a dehumidifier to remove some of the moisture from the air.
  4. If the basement has inadequate ventilation, make sure to use a circulating fan – an inexpensive one is fine. This will help get the air moving, which allows the dehumidifier to dry out the space more effectively.
  5. You will want to retrofit your HVAC system so that it provides effective return inlets to the basement.

If you have noticed that there is excess moisture in your home, the humidity levels are high or black or brown spots on the walls or ceiling of your basement, you should consult with a mold remediation specialist. This is crucial because the last thing you want is mold growing beneath your nose, resulting in poor health of you and your family.  

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