One of the worst and most harmful signs of a basement leak, is the presence of harmful mold and mildew. Mold is a dangerous fungi that lives off organic materials, and requires water in order to grow and spread. It is everywhere, but when a room gets really humid it can grow rapidly, and become a major problem. Mold can quickly render your basement useless, and is also a hazard to health.
Mold has been known to cause headaches, chest and breathing difficulties, can cause difficulty concentrating and fatigue when breathed in, and is really bad for people with asthma. Some types of mold can even be toxic. It is very important to get rid of mold as soon as you see any signs of it, and to make sure you tackle any damp or leaks so that it never happens again.
Mold is not always very easy to see, and more often than not you will smell it first. It has a really damp and dank odor, and may tickle your nostrils. The air will feel thick and unhealthy, and you may feel the mold as you breath in. The rotting smell could lead you to the place where the mold is, if you follow your nose.
Mold itself can be many different colors. Though it is commonly white, you may also see black, gray-brown, and gray-green mold. It tends to grow most in corners, rafters, and crawl spaces, though it could be anywhere that is very damp, and can spread fast in humid conditions.
Basements can already be pretty humid places, especially if they are not lived in. They have less ventilation than other rooms, and less sunlight. If humidity levels reach over 50-55%, mold can grow and spread very fast. This can happen if you have a leak that causes water to enter the interior of your basement, or if damp is coming through the walls or the floor.
If water pools against your home during heavy rainfall, or finds its way in through walls, floors, and points of entry due to hydrostatic pressure, then the basement will start to become more and more damp. This will raise the humidity level, and cause mold and mildew to thrive.
There may be a particular reason why your basement has a high humidity level. Identifying the damp and leaks, and applying a solution to stop them, will help to prevent the growth of mold.
If you have a bad mold problem, it should be professional cleaned off, or you should seek mold remediation services. You should remove any wet, damaged, and contaminated objects from the room too. A dehumidifier or air conditioning can help to improve the air flow and remove moisture from the air.
However, even when cleaned, and even with a dehumidifier to help, you will need to tackle any root causes of basement damp. There may be leaks that need fixing, or waterproofing can be applied so that water does not stay in your home, but is diverted away either on the outside or the inside.