Basement mold refers to the types of fungus that grow in basements under certain conditions. It is harmless in small quantities, but it becomes more and more of a health hazard as it grows. Some mold causes allergic reactions while others are outright poisonous.
If left untreated, the basement mold will keep growing, eventually spreading through the entire building. That is why you must find the mold before the problem gets out of hand. Once you find it, you will need to be able to identify it; otherwise, you won't be able to get rid of it.
WARNING: Before you search for mold, put a face mask, gloves and safety glasses to avoid getting any of it into your system. This is especially important if you have any allergies or respiratory issues.
Finding Basement Mold
One of the easiest ways to identify some types of mold is its stench. Other types of mold may not start to smell until the growth reaches a certain stage. That is why you may want to take a more proactive approach and check the spots where the mold is most likely to emerge. That way, you will have a better chance of spotting it while it is still a manageable size.
Basement mold needs a wet environment in order to grow. It will grow near the pipes and along the walls. The mold feeds on common household materials such as plywood, drywall, furring strips, and carpet padding, as well as dust and cellulose in carpets themselves. Check any parts of the basement that are hospitable to mold at least once each week. Be sure to bring a flashlight with you to provide adequate illumination.
If your basement suffers any sort of flooding, the walls will become infested with mold spores, which will remain dormant until they contact water. The spores can remain dormant for a long time. Just because the mold didn't develop after the flood doesn't mean it won't become an issue several years later.
If you find a patch of mold, try not to inhale too deeply and don't touch it. If it gets on your clothing or your tools, wash them immediately. You can identify the mold by sight, so there is no reason why you should be touching it in the first place.
Identifying Basement Molds
Basement mold can be identified by a number of traits. First, there is color. Basement mold comes in a variety of colors that range from light gray to black. They may have green, blue, or brown tinges. If the mold is closer to black, it is either the Stachybotrys or Cladosporium molds. If it's closer to light grey, it is either Aspergillus or Fusarium molds.
To figure out which type of dark mold and you have, look at the texture. If the basement mold looks slimy, it is probably Strachybotrys. Otherwise, it's Cladosporium. To figure out what kind of light colored mold you have, look at the growth pattern. If the mold grows in disjoint circular patches, it is most likely to be Aspergillus. Otherwise, it's Fusarium.
The Next Step
Test the mold in a lab if possible. While the factors described above are usually fairly good indicators, only professional analysis will provide a correct determination. If the mold patches are small, you may be able to remove it yourself. If the patches are fairly large, you will need professional help.