There are thousands of species of the fungi commonly known as mold. Mold exposure, especially for those with asthma or mold sensitivities, poses a serious risk to your home and family. Everything from yourself, to your pets to even your belongings can be harmed due to mold exposure. So what exactly are the health risks of mold exposure? Let’s look at the impact of mold and how to keep your home mold free.
But how do you know which molds are dangerous and which are benign? It starts with knowing the properties of mold and understanding the symptoms they can cause. Read on and learn about house molds that could be affecting your family right now!
Stachybotrys Atra: Infamously Known as the “Black Mold”
Stachybotrys atra, or Stachybotyrs chartroom, is a specific type of toxic mold. This is what most people refer to when they say, “black mold.” While sometimes found in grain or soil, it’s much more frequently found in building materials that are rich in cellulose – often following water damage. High moisture content is a requirement for black mold to grow, so it is unlikely to be found in homes that are properly inspected and have been protected through waterproofing services.
This species of mold appears black or dark green, and has a unique shiny looking surface. Some would describe it as slimy-looking, but if it dries it often becomes gray and powder-like. The problem is when it comes to black mold identification, the only real way to confirm if it’s the dangerous, toxic species is with a microscope. Many different molds have similar appearance to Stachybotrys atra. Only with careful examination by an expert, practicing caution, can the species be accurately identified.
Low levels of Stachybotrys atra tend not to have any effect, though if you’re immuno-compromised it’s more likely to cause symptoms. Larger volumes of the mold lead to higher exposure, which can cause a variety of symptoms sometimes referred to as Toxic Mold Syndrome:
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- Throat irritation
- Asthmatic Attacks
- Chronic Fatigue
- Persistent Headaches
These symptoms usually diminish or clear completely soon after removing the mold and its source.
Black mold affects animals too. While you may not notice a small spot of mold growing in that dark corner of your basement, you can be sure your pet will! Their curious nature may lead them to direct contact with the mold, causing illness or other reactions. If you have pets, keep an eye out for symptoms and take them to the vet immediately! Then,
contact a professional to inspect and locate the source of your mold problems.
Types of Soil
Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.
Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.
Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:
Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.
Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.
Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.
Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.
Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.
Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.
Improving Drainage Around Your House
Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.
Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!
Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.
Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.
Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.
Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about basement waterproofing options from EverDry Toledo.
Schedule a Free 20-Point Inspection
If you have questions about your foundation or would like to schedule an inspection to ensure the base of your home is in good shape, EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you pinpoint the source of the moisture problem. If it’s foundation-related, our waterproofing solutions can make your basement dry, healthy, and comfortable.
Contact us online
Where is the Water Located?
Bugs love a damp basement. And who can blame them? They have everything they need: a constant supply of food and moisture, ideal temperatures, and a safe place to hide from predators. Usually, basement bugs are shy – you’ll typically only catch a glimpse of them as they run for cover when you turn the lights on. Even if you don’t see them, but you notice you have a healthy crop of spiders taking up residence downstairs, chances are you still have basement bugs. Spiders find them quite tasty and are much happier to see them than you are.
In our region, there are 6 types of insects that thrive in dark, damp, basements. While they may not give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, they are harmless. If you see them, or notice an increase in spiders, start looking for damp areas in and around your basement.
Silverfish, otherwise known as fish moths, are small, wingless, silver-grey insects. They’re nocturnal, so you’ll rarely see one unless you happen to disturb it. They live on paper, fabric, coffee, sugar, human hair, and clothing. You can temporarily get rid of them without pesticides by putting out some cedar, or spray crevices with cedar oil. You can also try sticky traps, which are somewhat effective in controlling them.
Centipedes are pretty unmistakable characters in the insect world. Their name in Latin means “100 feet,” and they’ll use every one of them to skitter away from you and around your basement as fast as they can. Unlike silverfish, centipedes are carnivorous – the species that live in our area are mostly harmless, but they can bite if you pick them up with your bare fingers. Centipedes’ favorite meals include cockroaches, flies, moths, crickets, silverfish, earwigs and small spiders. You can best limit their love for your basement by keeping it clean, removing the debris that would attract their favorite prey.
If you have mold in your basement, chances are you have mold mites, too. Mold mites are tiny white insects about the size of a pin head. They feed on the mold that grows in basements, as well as flour, grains, or many other kinds of agricultural products (they’re always plentiful in mills and other food processing facilities). Mold mites can cause allergic reactions in humans resulting in itching and even respiratory problem, so it’s important to make your home as inhospitable as possible to them by getting rid of the mold and other food sources.
Earwigs are every bit as cute and cuddly as their name implies. These brown, creepy-crawly insects got their name because they were once thought to lay eggs in humans’ ears – which is, thankfully, untrue. But their fierce appearance, courtesy of a pair of pincers on their abdomens (used for holding prey and fighting rivals) does nothing to improve their reputation. Earwigs love rotting vegetation, and if you have cracks in your foundation, it’s easy for them to crawl out of the garden mulch right into your basement. They’re also attracted to moist areas, so a damp basement can be earwig oasis. Keep them at bay by removing rotting wood or vegetation around your house’s foundation and sealing up any cracks they use as an entrance.
A woodlouse, by any other name (aka armadillo bug, roly poly bug, sow bug, pill bug), still loves a damp basement. These little bugs that you may have played with as a kid are actually helpful outdoor insects because they create compost as they chew threw rotting wood and loosen the soil. But if you find them in your basement, it could indicate you have a serious basement moisture! The best way to evict them from your basement is to get rid of any sources of moisture.
Outside, their call may seem to represent a warm summer night in the country. Inside, these ventriloquists of the insect world can keep you up all night with their incessant chirping – which never seems to come from the location you think it does. Crickets are, for the most part, just annoying – but they will eat dried organic matter, including cotton and wool. Not only that, they’re not shy about leaving digested traces of their meal behind. Unlike the other basement bugs, crickets aren’t so much attracted to moisture as they are attracted to dark hiding places and easy food sources. But their presence in your basement could indicate you have cracks in your foundation, which makes it easy for them to get in. Seal up the cracks and any other easy ports of entry.
Your Best Solution
No matter how much you squish, trap, or spray, you’ll never fully get rid of these basement bugs until their buffet is removed your basement is dry and sealed. Identify and eliminate their food sources any obvious causes for basement moisture. Add a dehumidifier if necessary. Inspect your foundation and basement windows for any cracks or crevices that they may use to get in and seal as necessary.
Let Us Help with Your Basement Inspection!
Do basement bugs have you wondering if you have a basement moisture problem? Team EverDry is here to help! Contact us online or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 to schedule
a free 20-point basement inspection
What is Frost Heaving?
Frost heaving occurs when the soil freezes and thaws. When it freezes, the water contained in the soil expands, causing the soil to expand with it. The expanding soil tends to soak up even more water, and when thaw occurs, the soil shifts and moves, creating uneven pressure on your foundation. The result? An unstable foundation, cracks, and possibly a wet basement.
Most frost heaving occurs in areas with silty soil or soil with a high water capacity. Builders can compensate for these conditions by ensuring the base of a home’s foundation is well below the frost line (in houses with basements), adding drainage tile around the foundation, backfilling the area with porous materials such as gravel for optimum drainage, and properly grading the topsoil to direct water away from the house.
Telltale Signs of Frost-Heave Damage
The biggest clue of damage left by frost heaving is cracks. Often seen in older homes, frost heaving leaves a pattern of cracks around the support columns in a basement floor. You can see a good example of this here.
Another characteristic of frost-heave damage is horizontal cracks along the upper part of a basement wall where it meets the surrounding topsoil – the soil most affected by the freeze-thaw cycle.
Tips for Preventing Frost Heave
- Replace the soil surrounding your foundation with more porous alternatives such as gravel and/or fill sand, which is a blend of sand, soil, and clay.
- Add a drainage system at the base of a foundation, like a French drain, to drain the water away.
- Dig top-level and subterranean reservoirs to redirect water away from your home’s foundation.
- Insulate your home’s foundation to minimize heat loss between the foundation and the surrounding soil. When heat transfers to the surrounding soil through foundation walls, it enhances the freeze-thaw cycle.
- Make sure your gutters are in good working order and drain rainwater at a sufficient distance (at least six to eight feet) away from your house.
Foundation Repairs May Still Be Necessary
Following the above steps are preventative measures that can dramatically reduce the risk of foundation failure due to frost heaving. But even with these precautions, it’s not always possible to reduce the risk 100%.
If you see cracks in your foundation, suspect damage due to frost heaves, or experience a damp basement, contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 841-6055. We offer a free 20-point basement inspection to any homeowner who wants to make sure their basement is safe, secure, and moisture free.
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5 Basement Party Ideas to Help You Plan NYE
Turning your basement into a party space for New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or expensive venture. Just a few simple decorating investments will make any basement space a festive and happy party palace!
#1 Brighten up the Walls
If your basement is unfinished, you may have concerns about how to make the walls look bright and festive. Turning gray or white concrete walls into an eye-popping backdrop for your party space isn’t difficult. Hanging colorful posters, tacking up shimmering fabrics, or even painting if you have the time are all simple and relatively inexpensive ways to spruce up your basement walls. Many party supply stores also sell temporary murals in holiday themes, which are easy to hang and add a festive touch to any wall.
#2 Music, Music, Music!
What’s a party without the music! One of the easiest ways to make your basement the perfect space for a celebration is by creating both a space to play music and a space to dance to it. Set up a stereo system in an easy to access corner and clear a space in the center of the room for a dance floor. You can even place temporary music related no-slip decals on the floor to add an extra special touch to the dancing space.
#3 String Lights
Christmas may be over, but don’t pack up those lights just yet. Hang multiple strings of Christmas lights around your basement to add an illuminating touch. Multi-colored lights give a lighthearted celebratory feel while white twinkling lights add a touch of class and sophistication.
#4 Hang Streamers
Streamers and other hanging decorations such as beads also add fun to your basement party space. Twist together multiple strands of colored streamers and hang them on walls, ceilings, and light fixtures, or invest in several strings of shiny beads and hang them from the ceiling.
#5 Don’t Forget the Balloons
Nothing turns an ordinary space into a party palace like balloons. Filling your party space with as many helium balloons as will fit will instantly turn the area into a party. As with the lights, colored balloons add a fun and festive flair, while silver, gold, and white balloons bring elegance to your party space.
No matter how you choose to decorate your basement party palace, have fun with it! New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration with friends and family, and your guests will love having a joyful space to ring in the New Year with you.
Contact EverDry Toledo!
Want to make sure your basement is party palace ready? Schedule your free inspection 20-point indoor/outdoor inspection and let Team EverDry help you create a space you’ll love! Contact us
#1 Perfect Timing
Most people only think about waterproofing their basement when flooding happens. That’s why the busiest time of the year for waterproofing inspections and repair calls is in the spring. Few consider having their basements inspected when they’re nice and dry.
Even the slightest bit of water in the basement can make conducting a proper waterproofing inspection difficult. It is very rare for a basement to flood during the summer. That means it will be much easier for your inspection team will be able to get in and get the job done.
#3 Perfect Weather for Summertime Waterproofing