Share useful tips on home improvement.

How to Use a Dehumidifier to Get Rid of Mold in Your Basement

How to Use a Dehumidifier to Get Rid of Mold in Your Basement
The lack of sunlight and cooler temperatures of a basement make it an ideal place for mold to flourish. This article will guide you through the correct procedure of using a dehumidifier for basement mold, and other important tips and tricks to deal with this problem.
Anuj Mudaliar
Did you know?
While the spores of mold are unable to reproduce in harsh, dry conditions, they are very resilient and don't die easily. A little damp and darkness is all that they need to reactivate and propagate themselves. Research tells us that there are hundreds of thousands of species of mold in the world. So, it's no surprise that those places which are moist and dark almost immediately suffer from an outbreak of these fungi. Other than spoiling the look of the walls and the flooring, mold can also be responsible for a variety of respiratory tract infections. For this reason, it is imperative that places such as basements are well maintained, and efforts are made to prevent mold from getting a foothold. However, if this condition has already affected the area, then the following method will help sort out the situation.

Tools Required
Before you start trying to get the mold out of your house, it is important that you are fully prepared to tackle the task at hand. Once you have made an initial inspection of the damage, make sure you have the following equipment to work effectively and keep the mold from returning.
  • Coveralls
  • Safety goggles
  • Non-porous rubber/latex gloves
  • Respirator
  • Plastic sheets
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbish bags (large)
  • Buckets
  • Vacuum cleaner (preferably HEPA version)
  • Dehumidifier
  • Hygrometer
  • Scrubbing brushes and brooms
  • Vinegar/bleach solution
  • Spraying bottle

Getting Rid of the Mold
Identify the Causes of Fungal Growth Now that you are ready to battle it out, the next step is to find the source of moisture in the room. Making a careful examination of the affected area will usually lead you to the entrance of water. The most common ways for water to reach the basement are cracks in the foundation, floods, improper construction of drainage around the house, old and leaking pipes, and sloping soil around the house, leading to water collection at the base. Once you have identified the causes of mold in the basement, make appropriate repairs or modifications to stop water accumulation. Use professional help if needed during this period, but make sure that the job is thoroughly.

Drying Out the Basement
Now that you have made sure that no more water can enter the basement, the next step is to dry out the existing water and moisture from the room. For this, open all the doors and windows that are present in the room to facilitate cross ventilation. This is an especially good option if the climate outside is hot and dry. Besides this, another effective measure is to use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the room. These machines quicken the drying process by a large margin, and are totally worth the money spent. An important thing to keep in mind is to take good care of the dehumidifier, so as to avoid a breakdown. One must make sure to empty the water collection container regularly, and also wipe out the entire apparatus with a disinfectant, to stop the mold from spreading into the machinery. If you can afford it, you can also install an air filtration unit to keep the air clean and stop more spores from entering the area. Use a digital hygrometer to measure the humidity in the air. Ideally, the humidity should be around 50%.

Cleaning Out the Mold
This is the most important step in case a mold infestation already exists. First, get rid of any carpeting, boxes, and furnishings that have been affected by the mold, since it is not possible to completely eliminate spores from these items. All other items can also be removed from the basement, if they are detachable. If not, cover them with plastic sheets. Make sure you are wearing all the protective clothing throughout this process. Spray disinfectant mold removal solutions made of vinegar/bleach on the affected areas, leave for 10 - 15 minutes, and scrub the mold off till the sprayed area is clear. Another effective option for the removal of mold from concrete walls of the basement is to use a good detergent water solution. Take special care in cleaning out cracks and corners. Also make sure that you clean the scrubbing equipment regularly to avoid the mold from spreading even more.

Complete Drying of the Basement
This is an extremely important step to ensure that the mold does not return. Use paper towels and dry rags to absorb as much water as possible while allowing the dehumidifier to decrease the humidity levels in the room. Now is a good time to make use of the HEPA vacuum to clear out any spores that may be left. Be very through to get the best results.

Redecorating the Basement
After the basement is completely dry, you can now start to set up the room. Start by painting the cleaned area and filling in any cracks. Check for any other modifications that are needed and carry them out. Bring back the furnishings of the room, provided that they are completely mold free.

Tips and Tricks to Effectively Keep Mold Away
  • Run the dehumidifier throughout the year, especially if you live in an area with a high humidity level.
  • Having your house well insulated can also help in a big way to keep moisture out of the room.
  • Have a hygrometer permanently installed in the basement. This will warn you of the threat of a new mold outbreak.
  • If you can afford to, setting up a heating system in the basement is another effective preventive measure you can opt for.
  • If you find that the infestation is too much to handle by yourself, don't hesitate to get professional help.
Buying a Good Dehumidifier
  • Always consider the size of your basement before making your purchase. A small dehumidifier will not work effectively in a large basement.
  • Some special features you should look out for are a built-in hygrometer, adjustable humidistat, automatic defrosting, automatic shutdown, and a self-draining facility.
  • Another important consideration is to opt for a portable dehumidifier, so that you can use it in all the areas of the house with ease.

Follow this simple guide and rid your basement of mold effectively and safely, making your home a healthier and happier place for you and your family to live in.