Many families use basements as a kids room, and their children spend a lot of time playing there. It’s mom’s and dad’s job to make sure it’s a safe environment, healthy for their children. So they make it secure, but one thing many parents don’t think about is air quality at the basement.
Why bother about quality of basement air?
Basement is naturally susceptible to moisture problems, and moisture breeds mould. There are many health hazards associated with mould, from asthma to skin allergies and more serious systemic issues. Mould affects children and the elderly the most.
For example, our friends have moved their teenage daughter into the basement. After some time, she developed symptoms of lupus, a horrible systemic disease. Her skin was red and itchy with wet wounds; she experienced double vision and joint pain. Doctors, indeed, diagnosed lupus and put her on steroids with scary side effects.
Her condition disappeared when she went to the cottage for a month and returned when she moved back into her basement room.
This made family think that there might be a connection, so they tested the air in the basement. Their basement had a higher count of mould spores. It was not dramatically bad, but bad enough to cause such a bad reaction for a person who was sensitive to mold. The good news, she did not have lupus.
If your basement is wet, it may be a health hazard. But even dump air in the basement is a great breeding ground for mould.
Causes of basement moisture
There are only two causes of moisture in the basement: natural condensation and water leaks.
Tips How to Deal With Condensation
Basement is under the ground and so air is always a little bit colder at the basement. So when warm moist air touches colder surfaces of your basement furniture or wall or windows, it naturally condenses.
There are also a lot of pipes at the basement, and water condenses on them as well.
Here are some little known tips to help you reduce condensation in your basement:
- Do not stop running a dehumidifier in your basement and laundry room, ever
- Open air ducts in the basement and set your furnace to circulate air even when no heating is required
- This one comes from the mold remediation professional: Make sure your furniture doesn’t touch the walls. There is ALWAYS temperature difference between the furniture and the wall, and so moisture starts to accumulate and mold starts to grow.
- Don’t use cloth lines in the basement without proper commercial dehumidifier
- If you store clothes and shoes in the basement, bring them outside in the summer to dry. Mold doesn’t like sun and heat.
Check your basement walls, floors, and windows for water leaks. If you ever flooded your basement, water could have accumulated under the floor. If you never did, and some places look more moist than the others, investigate area outside your house – perhaps, water is getting in through some cracks in asphalt.
Check the hidden sources of water leaks: drain and sewer pipes. They can crack because of earth movement, or because mature tree roots grew into them and broke them. A plumber can do drain pipe video inspection using a camera on the long cable. It travels through your drain pipes and records everything that’s happening there. A movie recorded by the camera during drain camera inspection and showing cracks and leaking water is the proof that plumber is not trying to upsell you on an expensive job of repairing your drain if you happened to have a problematic drain pipe.
Wet basement can make living in your home hazardous. There is usually more mold there than outside on the street. So check your basement today and if the air is dump, use these tips to reduce condensation. If the problem persists, ask a plumber for a home plumbing inspection. Your kids’ health is worth it.
Dmitry Monastirsky is a Master Plumber certified by the City of Toronto, and the founder of A to Z Plumbing & Drain . Dmitry believes in prevention and awareness, so he publishes his tips for people who are not as passionate about plumbing as he is.
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- Mold and kids’ health – what to do about moisture in the basement - October 17, 2012