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Old 09-24-2011, 07:16 AM
 
8 posts, read 129,136 times
Reputation: 13
Default Mold on items stored in finished basement

New homeowner here, so please bare with me. We bought a house with a finished basement and stored boxes down there when we moved in April. This week I went down to get some shoes in one of the boxes and they were covered in mold. I checked other boxes and basically a lot of leather/straw/natural fabric items had mold on them. Books and papers were a bit damp, but no mold.

There hasn't been any water penetration in the basement (even after Irene), but only high humidity I guess. When we inspected the house, the inspector noted that the previous homeowners had dehumidifiers in the basement which might indicate a humidity problem--we didn't think much of it and figured it was common to have humidity in a basement and that he was using standard language to cover himself.

Basically my question are: i
- Is this a common problem to have in a basement?
- Does this mean that clothes, shoes and other valuables cannot be stored in a basement?
- Are they ways to prevent potential future damage?
- Should I have the dehumidifier on constantly (or on a regular basis)?
- Is there anything else I should be paying attention to?

It was a hot and humid summer and I rarely went down to the basement, so I didn't turn the dehumidier on. Is this something that people generally do--i.e have a dehumidifier on during the hot summer months?

Thanks.

PS: I didn't notice any mold elsewhere in the basement (walls, flooring, windows, etc.)
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Old 09-24-2011, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Deer Park , New York
283 posts, read 547,593 times
Reputation: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by sasha75 View Post
New homeowner here, so please bare with me. We bought a house with a finished basement and stored boxes down there when we moved in April. This week I went down to get some shoes in one of the boxes and they were covered in mold. I checked other boxes and basically a lot of leather/straw/natural fabric items had mold on them. Books and papers were a bit damp, but no mold.

There hasn't been any water penetration in the basement (even after Irene), but only high humidity I guess. When we inspected the house, the inspector noted that the previous homeowners had dehumidifiers in the basement which might indicate a humidity problem--we didn't think much of it and figured it was common to have humidity in a basement and that he was using standard language to cover himself.

Basically my question are: i
- Is this a common problem to have in a basement?
- Does this mean that clothes, shoes and other valuables cannot be stored in a basement?
- Are they ways to prevent potential future damage?
- Should I have the dehumidifier on constantly (or on a regular basis)?
- Is there anything else I should be paying attention to?

It was a hot and humid summer and I rarely went down to the basement, so I didn't turn the dehumidier on. Is this something that people generally do--i.e have a dehumidifier on during the hot summer months?

Thanks.

PS: I didn't notice any mold elsewhere in the basement (walls, flooring, windows, etc.)
Yes basement without a dehumidifier will get damp , especially in the hotter months . If you have CAC you can add a dehumidifier on it .

Basement Mold | Remediation Mold Cleaning Removal | Trask Research

Remove Mold for a Healthy Home
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:02 AM
 
Location: under the beautiful Carolina blue
8,905 posts, read 9,991,162 times
Reputation: 4885
All basements have humidity problems, so matter how dry they feel. My best friend has a finished basement and does not have a humidifier, I think she thinks it's not damp....went to visit her a few months ago and it was damp. I guarantee if she had a humidifier it would run all the time in the summer. Same with another friend of mine, she bought a house and I told her to get a dehumidifier, she told me the basement was "dry as a bone" ....OK. Fast forward a year and she went to get old baby things out of the basement and they were covered with mold. She said "I guess you were right".

When we lived on LI the only storage we had was in the basement....we had a dehunidifier and we never had a problem with mold. Even when we got water in a few times, we never had mold. We had a dehumidifier that only ran when there was moisture to be picked up .... it rarely ran in the winter. Once it's full it shuts off. You'll have to make it a habit to go down and empty it. I'm sure there are other ways to discharge the water, that someone else will post about. Ours was just a basic $100 Sears model that was still working when we sold the house last year after 13 years.

Water comes from the sky and where does it go....into the ground. What's underground? A basement. Underground is damp. Your basement is damp. Especially after a summer like this on LI.
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Where my bills arrive
3,460 posts, read 3,532,363 times
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It's a mistake that people think a basement is the same as any other room in the house. Depending on the age of the home/community every home may have a basement whether soil conditions are right for them or not. Basements can run on the damp side and as you have discovered items left down there could develope mold and other problems.

If you really need to store items ensure they are not directly on the floor, perhaps running the dehumidifier as you mentioned wiould resolve the problem. I am sure there are many on this board who could advise you the best way to finish off/insulate the space.
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Where my bills arrive
3,460 posts, read 3,532,363 times
Reputation: 2043
Quote:
Originally Posted by PANIC View Post
Yes basement without a dehumidifier will get damp , especially in the hotter months . If you have CAC you can add a dehumidifier on it .
Actually CAC is like a giant dehumidifier thats one of the biggest things it does. The owner could add a duct and return in the basement and that would do it. One concern would be to ensure the new SqFt does not put the unit over it's capacity...
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Islip,NY
11,198 posts, read 7,780,655 times
Reputation: 8916
My mom has 2 dehumidifiers in her basement and they are always on
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Inis Fada
13,749 posts, read 15,714,300 times
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A portion of my basement (new half with poured concrete walls) is finished. The cinder block older portion is not and is closed off from the finished area. Everything is kept off the floor with the exception of furniture. I leave the basement door open in the summer to draw CAC air down and pull damp air up. I leave a stsnding oscillating fan near the bottom of the stairs to move the air about. When we have excessive humidity for days, or some heavy rain, I run the dehumidifier for a couple of days. Everything is dry, no damage.
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Old 09-24-2011, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Nesconset, NY
1,240 posts, read 1,338,457 times
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Basically my question are: i
- Is this a common problem to have in a basement?
Yes, it's almost universal to some extent
- Does this mean that clothes, shoes and other valuables cannot be stored in a basement?
No. But they should be packed and sealed in air tight plastic containers, where it's not humid (upstairs). We use heavy duty garbage bags which are put into vinyl storage containers.
- Are they ways to prevent potential future damage?
No. But there are ways to discourage future damage. See below.
- Should I have the dehumidifier on constantly (or on a regular basis)?
No. Dehumidifiers are best used as a temporary stop-gap measure for short periods of seasonal peak humidity. Hydrostatic pressure will only force additional moisture through the concrete. The more this happens the more the concrete is being broken down. The more it breaks down the more moisture will be able to pass through it. And so on, and so on.
- Is there anything else I should be paying attention to?
Yes. There's little, if anything, one can do if the ground water table is shallow. However, diverting rainwater away from the foundation may substantially decrease the amount of wet soil along basement walls, which is where most homes get their basement moisture problem.

Impermeable/low-permeable ground cover/soil should be graded away from the house by 6" in 10'...make sure there are no areas for puddles to develop. Make sure downspouts are connected to leaders (tubes) that carry the water at least 4'0" away from the base of the downspout...and grading (or a shallow trench) will continue to carry it away from the house.

Check to see if your neighbours are diverting their downspout water toward your house. Everyone's downspout water should be directed toward the street...not their neighbours' yards.

The outside perimeter of your basement walls should be backfilled with gravel, with a foundation perimeter drain, and sealed in a low-permeable "tarp", covered by clay or other low-permeable grading.

Make sure any sidewalks or driveways next to the house are angled slightly to encourage run-off to drain away from the house; not toward it.


It was a hot and humid summer and I rarely went down to the basement, so I didn't turn the dehumidier on. Is this something that people generally do--i.e have a dehumidifier on during the hot summer months?

Thanks.

PS: I didn't notice any mold elsewhere in the basement (walls, flooring, windows, etc.)
Mold can't move so it has to grow only where it has a food source. Also, a thousand spore can fit on the head of a pin. You don't see mold you see mold colonies....if you can see it easily it's a "mold metropolis".
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Old 09-24-2011, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Islip,NY
11,198 posts, read 7,780,655 times
Reputation: 8916
Bleach kills mold from what I have heard.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:52 PM
 
8 posts, read 129,136 times
Reputation: 13
Thanks to all for all the great responses. I know what to do from now on.
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