Unfinished basement in old home...help!!!

LwelldenSeptember 9, 2002

Hi everyone....any help on this dilemma would be MUCH appreciated. I am living in a wonderful old rental house. Everything would be perfect were it not for the unfinished basement, which, I believe, is causing a mold problem in the house. The basement has several areas, one of which is an exposed dirt retaining wall. The floor gets about 2 inches or so of water when it rains. I am fairly certain the area is not well-sealed, as there are spiders, crickets, and other creepy crawlers all over. In addition, I've noticed (especially when I travel) that all of my clothes have a musty odor, which I assume must be from the humidity in the basement. My allergies have also been horrible lately--I almost feel like I'm developing asthma.

As this is a rental, I don't want to spend an arm and a leg fixing the problem, but have heard that laying plastic sheeting might help. I also have considered air filters and/or dehumidifiers.

If anyone has ANY suggestions, please post here or send me an email. Thanks so much!!!

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You should alert the landlord to the problem and request that the house be tested for mold, particularly "black mold." Black mold is toxic, and can cause numerous health problems ranging from not feeling well, to developing asthma to neurological disorders. If you are not feeling well at home, make note if you're health improves when you leave the house.

If the landlord refuses to test, you can buy a toxic mold test kit at the Home Depot for about $10, but the kit is only good for one room. (So testing can get expensive if you plan to test more than a few rooms.)

If the basement is damp, you should get some fans down there to get the air circulating, and put a de-humidifier down there to help dry up the place. You might also want to put a de-humidifier in the main area of the house.

I am not an expert on mold, but we recently purchased a basement unit condo and did research on the topic. We keep the dehumidifier running most of the time, and sealed the concrete floors with masonry concrete sealer which seals the floor from ground moisture. This might also be an option for you....good luck!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2002 at 12:49PM
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Definitely run a dehumid. Nice Whirlpool or Kenmore costs about $169, cheap brand $99, or get the landlord to bring one. I know a guy who owns rentals and he always has 2 or 3 of em in storage.

Other ideas...you or the landlord could do...
Get some heavy plastic and cover that dirt wall. Use long spike nails right through the plastic into the dirt to secure it. It won't be hermetically sealed but it will be 99% sealed.

Pressure wash all concrete in the basement with bleach solution. Wear a plastic poncho and a filter mask. It will kill off a lot of the mold. Run the dehumid after that and keep the basement dried out so it won't grow back.

Hope it improves for you.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2002 at 5:02PM
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I run a $20$ used dehumidifier in my basement during the summer.. Gallon upon gallon of water is removed, and this basement is very dry, but with poor ventilation.In the winter the basement is heated..
There is also a semi-crawl space under the kitchen which was sealed up more or less,(zero ventilation) The air smelled realy good, and there was no rust and no rot.. Not bad for a old $40,000 dump of a home !!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2002 at 12:20PM
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There are hundreds of thousands of different varieties of mold and only 3 have been found to be toxic and even those ... no one is sure at which levels they are dangerous. They usually onlycause problems in those persons that already have allergies to mold. (Lots of research resulting from my daughter's allergies). There is a lot of hysteria about it now, just as there has been with other substances in the past, but unless you have a known allergy or asthma, it should not create a problem. Plastic sheeting will indeed reduce the moisture if effectively covering the soil, however, that would be impossible in the presence of standing water as you have described. Also - the exposed side wall would still allow moisture to enter so the remedy would be only a partial one at that. LL would have to install drain tiles and sump pump, block the walls and concrete the floors. This is a typical basement in many older homes in our area. If you are having a problem, you might consider finding another home in which to live. Since it was an acceptable method of building at the time at which the home was built, it is probably grandfathered into local building codes as being acceptable since it poses no structural danger.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 8:04PM
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Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! We put a dehumidifier in the basement and air purifiers in each room and they seem to be helping. I think we're going to try putting up plastic sheeting the next free weekend--even if it's not a perfect solution, it will hopefully do more good than harm! Thanks again--I'm a newcomer and this forum has been tons of help in dealing with the common problems found in older homes.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 11:49AM
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Also, the de-humidifier helps ( I have a 100 year old home) but you need to stop water coming into the basement.

We found by just extending out the drains from the gutters we eliminated our water problem. You can buy the extentions for about a quarter or 50 cents or so at HomeDepot, Lowes or any of that type store.

Here is a link that might be useful: homepage

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 8:47PM
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