National Post

Mould, moisture woes controllab­le


Ihear from a lot of homeowners who are concerned about a musty smell in their basement — what causes it and does it mean mould?

To me, that musty smell signals two things: that you’ve got moisture in your basement — and possibly mould. While a dehumidifi­er can help deal with the smell, it won’t stop mould growth, and that’s the real issue you will want to tackle.

Every home will have s ome mould- producing germs and bacteria. But don’t panic, this is natural. What you want to do is keep the mould spore count in your home low, and eliminate any conditions that would cause mould growth to thrive, because that’s going to impact your health.

Mould is organic and will grow whenever the spores have the right conditions. These conditions are: air, moisture, and a source of food. With these, your home is the perfect environmen­t for mould to thrive.

Many of the building materials used in your home’s constructi­on can act as food for mould if you’re not addressing moisture issues. Wood, drywall and carpeting are f ound all over your home, and they make prime targets.

When mould is inhaled it can aggravate respirator­y issues like allergies, bronchitis or asthma. Rashes and eczema are common triggers if the mould touches your skin. This is something you want to avoid. But before you take action, start by solving the cause of mould growth — your issues with moisture.

You need to remove the excess moisture from your home to prevent mould growth in the first place.

Proper venting is key, especially in a traditiona­lly damp area like your basement. Depending on the way your home was built, the basement may not have been i nsulated properly. Your basement needs to be thermally broken to stop warm and cool air from creating condensati­on in the basement, because that creates the perfect storm for mould. If you’re finishing your basement, a closed cell sprayfoam will stop the warm and cool air from meeting, as well as provide insulating power.

Don’t neglect your buildi ng envelope — the outside of the home needs to be properly sealed to keep water out. If you are having major water problems in your basement, it may be due to issues with your foundation or weeping tile. That could mean a big fix that involves excavating the foundation to waterproof.

There are some smaller projects you can undertake to make sure your home is watertight. Spring is a good time to check the caulking around all doors and windows in your home and replace sections that are damaged because without that tight seal, water can seep in.

If you don’t deal with the cause of the water first, you will always be playing catch up against the mould and moisture built up inside.

Once you’ve taken care of the cause of your moisture problems, it’s time to take up the fight against mould.

If the area affected in your home is minor, you can probably handle cleanup on your own — as long as you have the right tools. There are products on the market that help you remove and kill mould. It’s important to remember that you should never clean mould with bleach. While bleach takes care of any surface mould, the spores survive and allow mould to grow back. You want a product that will actually crush mould below the surface to keep it from returning.

Mould inhalation is dangerous, so make sure if you are cleaning it yourself, you also have the proper protective gear before starting cleanup. By that I mean a pair of rubber gloves, a respirator, safety goggles and disposable protective clothing.

If the area affected by mould exceeds a surface area of 10 square feet, it must be profession­ally cleaned by a mould remediatio­n company. They’re the pros for a reason and will work to contain the mould spores to prevent cross- contaminat­ion, protect your HVAC system, and dispose of any major mould-ridden objects.

If you suspect mould or moisture, don’t wait to deal with it because you could be compromisi­ng your family’s health. If you smell any strange odours in your home — trust your nose. Believe me, they could be the warning sign of something serious hiding behind your walls. Watch Mike Holmes in Home To Win, premiering Sunday night on HGTV. For more about Holmes, visit makeitrigh­t. ca

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Mike Holme s

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