Basement Nightmares: Dark, Dank, & Moldy

By:    |   Published October 30, 2015
basement nightmares in black on tan background | EverDry Toledo

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Sarah’s mother shouted from the driveway. This is the first time Sarah was invited to a slumber party and not just any slumber party, but one hosted by, Jennifer, the most popular girl in sixth grade. Sarah desperately wanted to fit in, after all, she was turning twelve next month. I’m practically an adult, she thought to herself.

Jennifer greets Sarah at the door and leads her down the stairs to the semi-finished basement of her two-story home.  Four other girls in her class wait on an area rug tucked away in the corner. The basement was dark, dank, and kind of creepy.

As night descended upon them, the slumber party went from makeovers and chick flicks to something more adventurous. “Ever play Moldy Mary?” Jennifer asks Sarah with a devilish glint in her eyes. Sarah never played, in fact, she never even heard of the game.

Jennifer turns off all the lights in the basement with only a flashlight illuminating her face. She goes on to explain that about a year ago, a neighbor named Mary was left home alone, her husband was out-of-town, and her children were at a neighbor’s house for a sleepover – much like this one. No one knows exactly what happened, but Mary was found in a flooded basement surrounded by spiders. It was later reported that she suffered from shock and an undisclosed illness due to prolonged exposure to Black Mold.

Jennifer tells Sarah that she gets to play the game first. All the girls giggle with anticipation. Jennifer instructs Sarah to go into the small, pitch black bathroom on the opposite side of the basement. Once in the bathroom, she’s to chant “Moldy Mary” three times and wait to see what happens.

Sarah reluctantly makes her way to the bathroom and shuts the door behind her. The room is pitch black, and she can’t even find the mirror. Something doesn’t feel right to her, but she wants to impress Jennifer. Sarah feels along the wall until she finds a hard, cold surface – the mirror. She takes a deep breath and shouts three times:

Moldy Mary! Moldy Mary! Moldy Mary!

Suddenly, to Sarah’s horror, a woman appears in the mirror dripping wet. Her runny nose, skin rashes and obvious disorientation are so shocking, that Sarah flees from the bathroom, up the stairs, and out the front door!

What is Back Mold?

Sarah’s story is only fiction, but the effects that black mold has on the body are very real. Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, is a microscopic organism containing enzymes and spores that are in charge of digesting and decomposing organic materials, as well as, reproduction. Black mold is extremely toxic and causes serious symptoms and health issues. These symptoms include mental impairment, breathing problems, internal organ damage, and sometimes even death!

Mold needs to consume something to survive, and it’s perfectly happy eating your house if you let it. Some molds are found in the paper backing on drywall, insulation, and wallpaper. Others places you find mold include air-conditioning units, under carpeting, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, and around leaky windows. If left unchecked, mold eventually destroys any and every part of your home that it touches. (Check out our article: 5 Tips to Preventing Black Mold)

Dark, Dank & Moldy Basements

Believe it or not, your basement can be one of the most dangerous places in the home if not properly maintained. It’s not uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of mold spores per cubic foot of indoor air. These spores are extremely small and can survive in even the harshest of environmental conditions. Black mold can live anywhere provided moisture and oxygen are present. (Is Mold Dangerous for Pets? Find out!)

Finished concrete basements that haven’t been thoroughly waterproofed are extremely problematic. When moisture migrates from the ground to non-waterproofed basement walls, mold can start to grow almost immediately. Foundation leaks, high interior humidity, overflowing washing machines, and sewage back-ups are common sources of moisture.

Mold loves damp, dark places, which is why your basement needs to be checked for water seepage, cracked foundation, and visible damage regularly.

Black Mold is Hazardous to Your Health!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all molds have the potential to cause illnesses. The severity of symptoms depends on the types of mold, the extent of exposure, current health status, and existing allergies. Mold spores linger in the air for extended periods of time, so they’re easily inhaled.  With even slight exposure to black mold spores, children, the elderly, and people with certain sensitivities may experience the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea
  • Sinus problems
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue

Since many of these ailments mimic flu-like symptoms, patients are often misdiagnosed by medical professionals.

How to Get Rid of Black Mold

The key to removing moldy materials is containment and thoroughness. First and foremost, protect yourself! Purchase a HEPA filter mask, gloves, and goggles from any medical or safety equipment supplier. Once protected, follow these steps to get rid of black mold in your basement:

  • Seal off the area containing mold spores by covering the opening with polyethylene sheeting and duct tape. Make sure to work slowing and methodically, so that you don’t stir up additional spores.
  • If your basement is flooded, get it as dry as possible within the first 72 hours, before mold sets in. You can place a box fan in a window with the air blowing outward.
  • Next, spray the affected areas with mild soap solution. You can purchase a spray bottle from your local hardware store and fill it with a mixture of water and dishwashing detergent. Lightly mist insulation, carpet, and other materials before you remove them.
  • Remove any furniture, storage boxes, and other materials. Double-bag the moldy materials in plastic garbage bags. Roll and double wrap carpets.
  • When you’re finished, wash all remaining hard surfaces with a bleach solution and let dry.

4 Basement Waterproofing Options Info Graphic

Don’t Wait for Your Basement to become Moldy; Call Team EverDry Today!

Getting rid of moldy materials is just a temporary fix to the overall problem. In order to ensure that black mold will not return, you need to address the root of the problem.  If you see water in your basement, chances are, you have a cracked foundation. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Schedule your free 20-point inspection or give EverDry Toledo a call at (419) 841-6055 to get started!

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