You’ll notice mold in your basement by its appearance – usually black, white or bluish patches on your basement walls. It can also grow on any organic material adjacent to the mold-covered areas, such as carpet, cardboard boxes, etc. Remove these affected items from the wall and dispose of what you can. Furniture may be salvaged with a good cleaning, but in some cases it may have to be thrown away. Moving these items out of the way will also give you room to work when removing the mold.
Remove Mold From Walls
Mold on your interior walls doesn’t just look unpleasant; it can be a health hazard for your family. Depending on the amount and location, its presence also suggests a larger problem in your house — water infiltration.
For this project, we will focus on solving the mold problem. The remedy is two-fold: 1. Control moisture and 2. Kill the mold. While the former may take a more involved approach depending on the situation, the latter often can be done with some bleach, water and a bit of elbow grease.
Know Your Mold and Mildew
Mold can grow in your home wherever there’s an abundance of moisture, especially when it’s allowed to remain for extended periods of time. Mold usually appears on walls, ceilings and floors of homes where moisture management is not at its best. In particular, areas such as basements, shower walls and windowsills are areas where mold commonly likes to live. Mold and mildew, for all intents and purposes, are essentially the same thing; mildew is generically used to describe many minor mold problems in the home, such as on shower tile grout. However, some molds can become highly toxic to people if left to prosper. Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints and is especially a risk for small children, the elderly and those with existing respiratory illnesses or weakened immune systems.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores indoors. The key to mold control is controlling indoor moisture:
- Fix Water Problems (leaks, etc.) Fix leaks as soon as you find them. Not only does a leaky basement or roof mean immediate structural damage, if not remedied, the waterlogged areas allow mold to thrive. See the project Repair Basement Leaks. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth. If you don’t and mold infiltrates them, they will need to be removed to completely fix the mold problem.
- Reduce Indoor Humidity The more humid your home is, the more likely it will be a haven for mold spores. Reduce humidity by increasing your home’s ventilation and by keeping air from remaining warm and stagnant. Vent large appliances, such as washer/dryers, as well as your bathroom and kitchen. Use air conditioners and de-humidifiers.
- Prevent condensation Insulate exterior walls, roofs, windows and pipes to reduce the potential for moisture forming from condensation.
Remove Mold from Basement/Concrete Walls
Step 1: Prepare the Area
Step 2: Start Scrubbing
To kill mold, there are many commercial products available. Bleach, however, is considered the best thing to kill it, when combined with old-fashioned hard scrubbing. Mix one part bleach with three parts water in a bucket. Using a scrub brush or heavy-duty sponge, vigorously scrub the mold-affected wall with the bleach/water solution until the mold spots have disappeared. In some cases, you may need to let the solution remain on the wall for a few minutes after you’ve applied it to let it soak in. For tough mold-infested areas, you many need to use both a formulated mold remover and a bleach/water solution to get the job done.
Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and safety goggles to avoid splashing the bleach solution in your eyes. Also, wear a respirator mask or dust mask to protect yourself from any mold particles that may become airborne. If possible, ventilate the basement while you work. Wear old clothes since you may get some of the bleach on yourself.
After you’ve scrubbed the affected walls, dry them with a towel and check the surface for any mold growth you may have missed. Replace the items you moved back into the basement, but make sure you don’t put back anything with mold on it – you may end up where you started in a few weeks.
There may be some stains on the walls even after you’ve scrubbed them. These can be removed by using a mold/mildew stain remover, available at your local True Value hardware store.
Purchase a dehumidifier for your basement to keep the air dry and as inhospitable to mold as possible.
Keep an eye out for any leaks in the basement.
If you plan on painting the basement walls, use a stain-blocking primer and paint such as True Value EasyCare® primer and paint. It may also be necessary to seal your basement with a waterproof sealant before you prime and paint to keep out moisture and mold.
Remove Mold from Drywall/Painted Walls
Mold can often grow on drywall and painted interior walls, especially in areas where moisture and humidity are a factor, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Walls can also be affected if your roof or exterior walls are infiltrated by water. If the drywall remains wet, mold can begin to grow and penetrate the drywall throughout. When this happens, the drywall must be removed and replaced, as you will not be able to get rid of all mold under these circumstances.
Step 1: Assess the Damage
If you notice mold on any interior walls, assess the condition of the wall and the extent to which the mold has taken over. If the drywall has been compromised, is crumbling or bowed out and covered with black or bluish splotches, it will need to be replaced. If the wall is structurally sound but still covered with mold, you should be able to remove the spots with a cleaner and a bit of scrubbing.
Some mold is better off remediated by professionals because it may be very toxic when present in large amounts. While unlikely, unless your home has extensive water damage from flooding or some other catastrophe, you probably won't come across an excessive amount of this kind of mold, commonly referred to as "black mold". If you do have large amounts throughout an interior area — anywhere around 10 sq. ft. — call a professional to have it removed.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
Because you'll be using bleach or commercial mold-killing chemicals to remove the mold, you'll need to protect surrounding surfaces, such as flooring, from any kind of spills that might cause damage. Cover the floor with plastic drop cloths and tape them into place so they don't move around. It doesn't hurt to keep some old towels handy to catch any spills.
Step 3: Get Rid of the Mold
The best thing for removing mildew and mold from walls is a bleach/water solution. Mix 1 part bleach to 3 parts water and apply it with a sponge or rag. There are also a number of commercial solutions available at your local True Value hardware store.
Wear waterproof rubber gloves when cleaning with bleach or other cleaners to protect your hands.
In kitchens and bathrooms, tile grout can sometimes develop patches of mildew. You can scrub this away with an old toothbrush. Wash down the walls after you've scrubbed.
Step 4: Use a Stain-Blocking Paint
When you’ve finished cleaning away the splotches of mold, there still may be stains left on wall surfaces. Prime the wall with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Primer/Sealer then paint using True Value EasyCare® PLATINUM stain-blocking paint and primer in-one as a topcoat.
Congratulations, you’re done! Stay vigilant and look for potential signs of mold by keeping in mind where and how it can grow.
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.
Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.
Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.
You can also shop online for these project items at TrueValue.com and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.
Top Winter Projects
Sign up now to receive special offers and project ideas via email.