If you've already had a water damage restoration company clean up after a basement flood-- including replacing the flooring and other furniture if it was too damaged to be restored, you will still need to be on the lookout for signs of mold and mildew growth, especially if you live in a humid area. You don't want to have to call a remediation company again after you've just gotten everything fixed. However, if the damp conditions that lead to water damage in the first place are not repaired, then you will have trouble with mildew. Here are some things to look for when you are trying to keep your basement mold-free.
1. The Musty Smell
One of the first things that will indicate that your water-clean up did not do the trick with preventing subsequent mold growth is the development of a musty smell. If your basement flooded, be especially vigilant in the days and weeks to follow. Close the door to the basement for a few hours, and spend some time outside. Then, when you come home, go right into the basement. If there is a marked difference in smell after breathing good, clean air, you'll need to call somebody to look for the source of the burgeoning mildew-- because that's what causes the musty environment.
2. The Bubbling Paint
As mold takes hold of specific building materials like wood and drywall-- even wood and drywall that you just installed after water damage-- the wood begins to expand because mold uses moisture as it grows, pulling water into the material. Eventually, paint begins to lift off and may have a bubbly appearance.
For a few months after the flood and repairs, wash the basement walls weekly with a mild solution of diluted bleach. This way, you'll kill any surface mold spores that might have grown during the flooded stage and you'll be able to inspect the walls for the bubbles that indicate mold growing beneath the surface.
3. The Persistent Cough
Some people are very sensitive to mold spores, and if they are allowed to grow in the weeks following your basement flood, symptoms like coughing, sneezing, or trouble breathing could become more intense. Usually, when a person is feeling ill because of mold, they feel better when away from the house. If the cough does not go away and breathing problems worsen, it's best to call somebody to look for mold-- just in case. Sometimes, mold can't be seen, but experts can test the air and take samples to help diagnose the problem.
4. The Visual Signs
Obviously, the easiest way to spot mold is to see it growing. Good places to look include behind or inside bathroom cabinets or in storage rooms that don't see a lot of light or traffic. Sometimes, a persistent damp environment could lead to mildew growing on furniture or wallpaper-- especially if these were not cleaned or restored properly after they were soaked during a water leak. Get rid of mildewy furniture, and call a professional to look at the visual mold spots.
5. The Standing Water
Finally, this is not really a sign of mold, but more like a warning to be on your guard. Generally, you will have more trouble with mold if you had leaking or standing water damage for longer than 24-48 hours. This is because every home have mold spores-- they just need food and moisture in order to start growing and spreading. A burst pipe or flooded basement in the spring can jump start mold growth. Following water damage cleanup, its important to prevent the same thing from happening again. This may mean updating your plumbing, waterproofing the basement, installing a moisture barrier between the cement and the flooring, and buying a dehumidifier.