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How to Prevent Mold & Mildew in Your Chicago Home: Basement & Carpet

As we discussed in our most recent article on mold and mildew prevention in your bathroom and kitchen, there are many places in your home for moisture to hide and grow. Though the kitchen and bathroom can easily provide the best breeding grounds for mold, there are plenty of unsuspecting (and obvious) places that you might want to check out too.

Basements are notorious for that not-so-pleasant “musty smell” – a term often used to describe the smell of mold. If you can smell it, there’s a good chance it’s already there and should be eradicated. Your carpet is another location where, if untended to, mold and mildew can grow.

Here are a few more ways to prevent mold and mildew in your favorite places.

Preventing Basement Mold

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Most Chicago homes have basements. Some are your run-of-the-mill dark, damp (and somewhat creepy) basements with cracked corners and exposed pipes. Other basements have been converted by homeowners into either garden level apartments, dens or simply functional basements as seen above. Because basements typically exist either underground or as the foundation of the structure, it is at risk of moisture from broken/leaking pipes as well as water coming in from outside. This could not only lead to a flooded basement, but a corrupted foundation as well, ultimately costing you much more money than prevention!

  • Monitor Humidity Levels: Use a hydrometer to ensure your basement stays around or below 45% humidity to reduce the possibility of mold or mildew growth.
  • Use a Dehumidifier: Basement feel muggy? Invest in a dehumidifier to help manage moisture levels.
  • No Plants: Basements are spacious and some even have windows, so you may be tempted to grow low-light plants or cultivate down there. However, plants retain and release moisture that could lead to mold/mildew and should be kept in airy locations of your home, as basements are not typically well ventilated. Avoid cultivation in your basement.
  • Declutter: It’s very tempting to store everything that doesn’t have a place in your home in your basement. It’s safe and out of the way right? Well, the truth is that too many objects in your basement block the flow of air and reduce ventilation. Items such as clothing, books and papers are food for mold and mildew. If you are to store items in your basement, keep it minimal and make sure that items are stored off the floor and away from the walls.
  • No Wood: Again, the basement is a great place to store things, but wood is another ideal habitat for mold. Keep wood in an open, airy location.
  • Check Your Boundary: The area around your home should be sloped so that snow and rain are directed away from your home. *Note: If this is not the case, you are likely experiencing mold growth water seeping in through the foundation as the water pools around the structure. To prevent further mold issues, it’s important to remediate all of these issues.
  • Keep it Dry: Spot a spill? Clean it up right away. If it’s from a leak, fix the leak. Wipe the spill from the area and dry completely. You can speed up the process by using a dehumidifier and heater.
  • Insulate Your Pipes: Cold water pipes may show condensation, thus producing moisture where you don’t want it. Insulating them will help reduce moisture in your basement.
  • Air it out: Use an exhaust fan to air out stale, sticky air and allow the intake of fresh air. If possible, open doors and windows frequently.
  • Make Some Changes: Avoid air-drying wet clothes. Keep appliances like dryers, stoves, heaters and AC exhaust to the outside or you may raise humidity levels. It’s also important to avoid carpet or hardwood in the basement as well, as both absorb and retain moisture (which can lead to mold).

Prevent Carpet Mold

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The most comfortable rooms in the house typically have the coziest floors too, and there’s nothing quite as comfortable underfoot as carpeting. However, it can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew and other allergens that could affect your well being.

  • Keep the Air Dry: Maintaining humidity levels at 65% or below will help maintain a mold-free carpet. During those muggy Chicago summer days, use a portable dehumidifier to keep the moisture under control.
  • Stay Cool: High, warm temperatures can contribute to mold growth in your carpet, with 80°F being considered high. Using an effective HVAC (AC unit) will both lower humidity & temperatures simultaneously, killing two birds with one stone.
  • Clean Carpet, Happy Home: Though there is no official measure of what qualifies as a “clean carpet,” it is recommended to vacuum on the weekly basis to help inhibit mold growth.
  • Go Manmade: Many organic carpeting materials, such as wool, are much more susceptible to mold growth than man-made carpeting like nylon or olefin.

Ultimately, keeping mold out of your home comes down to keeping surfaces dry and maintaining humidity levels under control.

If you have any questions, concerns or are already experiencing mold issues in your home – we’re here for you. Get in touch with one of our experts today for your free estimate.

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