According to Chris Wells, owner of Christopher Wells Construction, Inc. in Brisbane, water intrusion is one of the most important problems for homeowners to address. “Whenever you see any signs of water—staining or water dripping—bring in a general contractor or roofer as soon as possible,” he says. “They’ll be able to determine what’s happening. The longer you leave a water intrusion problem, the bigger the repair bill will be.”
If your basement becomes a victim of water intrusion, there’s a good chance that mold is thriving in the affected areas. When mold grows in a basement, it’s imperative to treat it aggressively—it can be a health hazard and can cause damage to walls, floors, and items such as furniture and appliances. Consider these basic steps and precautions to treat basement mold:
• Find the source of the mold. Check for things like leaking pipes or water seeping in through walls or the floor. Immediately remove any water and use dehumidifiers or fans to help dry the area.
• Wet the affected area with a sponge or rag. Wipe off as much mold as possible.
• Use a spatula to scrape off any visible, remaining mold. Use a non-metallic spatula if you’re worried about scratching a surface, such as a finished wood wall.
• Mix a solution of water, chlorine beach and laundry detergent. For concrete mold, mix 1 cup of bleach and 1/2 cup of detergent for each gallon of water. For wooden walls, use 1/2 cup of bleach. Test the solution on a small part of the wall. If the wood changes color, use a solution of water and detergent only. A wood-cleaning product can also be used on a wooden wall.
• Thoroughly scrub any area or item that has mold. Use a sponge or rag for wooden walls and a sponge, rag or bristled brush for concrete. Scrub as hard as possible to help remove mold from its roots.
• Rinse the area thoroughly and dry it with a fan or humidifier.
• Treat the basement with a commercial mold-killing product.
• Place the mold in garbage bags and take them outside immediately.
If your water intrusion problem becomes too serious to treat by yourself, it’s important to bring in a general contractor or roofer to assess the situation. Mr. Wells advises to choose a company that carries a sufficient liability insurance policy. “If the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you may be liable for any damage or injuries incurred on the job.” Although contractors are required to carry both workers’ compensation insurance and a bond to cover payroll in case they default, Mr. Wells says some let their insurance lapse in order to save money. “It’s an overlooked part of the business. You need to confirm the validity of their insurance policies.”