Water Damage and Mold

Tyler Golberg
by Tyler Golberg
A friend's house recently showed water damage on a baseboard in the basement. After pulling it off a lot of mold was revealed. There are no water sources (e.g. toilets, showers, sinks) above the problematic spot.
My assumption is the water is coming in though the foundation. Any thoughts on furthering investigating the problem or fixes?
Behind the base board
Water damage through the base board
  20 answers
  • Diane Woods Diane Woods on Oct 30, 2013
    We own some rental property and had an issue where water got into the walls, and the mold appeared at the floor where the water rested. It could be something inside your walls like HVAC or plumbing pipes. I think you'd have to pay attention to the weather too to decide if it's an external or internal source. That being said, I don't think there is any way to adequately determine the source or the extent of the mold inside the walls without taking down the baseboard and cutting into the wall. Minimal expense to repair if it is something minor you find. If there is major mold inside you definitely want to have it addressed. I'd read more maybe on the EPA site just to make sure you are comfortable with your decisions.
    • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Oct 31, 2013
      @Diane The weather has actually been drier than normal. I agree that we should take down the drywall asap. That'll certainly give us some insight.
  • Kelly Christianson Kelly Christianson on Oct 30, 2013
    If it's an outside wall, check the downspouts and make sure the water is draining away from the foundation. Also, if there is a large tree within 20 feet of your house, the roots could be trying to break through the foundation. If there are any cracks in the walls, water can soak through and create the problems you have there. If it's an inside wall, dripping water from sinks, bathtub, toilets, water lines, etc can run along pipes and run down the walls when it has no where else to go. I would check the downspouts first, we had the same problem, especially when there was a hard rain.
    • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Oct 31, 2013
      @Kelly Christianson The drainage outside does seem to be flowing away from the house. At minimum I know there hasn't been any pooling, but I should check it while it's raining. There are no trees anywhere near and all the plumbing from the top floor is too far away to start showing up at this spot first. I will check the gutters (probably should have done that right away!).
  • How old is the home? Has it been a wet season? Are the gutters full? There are many questions to ask and sometimes leaks in foundation go on for years and no one discovers them until it is too late. Your friend needs to have her home tested for mold and make sure that it is not black mold which is deadly. Yes, it can make you very sick and it is toxic to humans and animals. The fix may be to excavate around the home and reseal the outside walls with sealer, put in proper drains or clean out and redo the existing drains, and make sure the soil slopes away from the house. This kind of mold issue will have to be removed. Any way you look at it, your friends have a mess. You could start by cutting out the area where the mold is right now and take off the molding too and pull back to the wall. You cannot mess around with mold. There are many professionals who will do a free or inexpensive estimate and have her contact her homeowners insurance immediately. I do not want to freak you out but I have seen people get ill from mold.
    • See 2 previous
    • @Tyler Golberg I also wanted to add that the rubber/asphalt coating used to seal the outside of the basement may not have been used either. We had that problem in our first home and it was a nightmare and we always had moisture. Then when we built our home, we made sure to seal the outside concrete and put in lots of rock and drainage. Good luck.
  • Patricia W Patricia W on Oct 30, 2013
    We had to have our bathroom demolished. We had mushrooms growing in the corner. Turned out the people that revamped our home before we purchased it did not use Concrete board in the shower behind the tile! It was plain old drywall. To make a long story short, we were robbed by the contractor after buying all of our own new tile, and fixtures. They told us the insurance company was going to cover the damage, they lied. We ended up writing a check for 17 grand. They did have to rip out the subfloor and had to replace the walls up to about 1' above the floor. Just be careful who you hire and be sure if you repair the issues yourself to use a mask, that mold is dangerous. I imagine the damage is under your carpet as well,. Good luck.
    • See 1 previous
    • Sandy Earl Sandy Earl on Nov 01, 2013
      @Patricia W i had the same thing happen,there is mold behind my shower now.called the guy who did it and he said he would come back and fix thins.havent seen him since.so now calling around to see who will help me get it cleaned up.i sure could use mike holmes.
  • Molly Meredith Molly Meredith on Oct 30, 2013
    sounds like you need to dig on the outside to the bottom and rip all the molded rotted materials out...maybe needs a frenchdrain system?
    • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Oct 31, 2013
      @Molly Meredith I'll look into the french drain. It may help prevent the problem again in the future.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Oct 31, 2013
    I also had mold, and a smell in one room and underneath the sinks. We couldn't figure it out and crawled under the house any there was water. We had a leaky pipe. Thought the problem was fixed until we ripped tile out and we dropped a nail through the sub floor and heard a splash! What we had to do was put in a su pump and French drain, we apparently have someone on our line with a water leak. The CU said they can't find it until that customer complains.
  • Basement Systems Basement Systems on Oct 31, 2013
    That seems to be a clear indication that the existing foundation drainage system is no longer working. When a house is built, a hole is dug on the ground in order for the foundation to be built or poured. Once the foundation is ready, that hole is backfilled. That soil now laying against the basement wall, will never be as compact as the undisturbed portions of the terrain, and as a result it tends to soak water like a sponge. In building science that is known as the "clay bowl effect". When that soil gets over saturated, hydrostatic pressure builds up and pushes water against the walls, which in turn will find its way into the basement, usually from the joint between the walls and floors. This seems to be exactly the problem here.. To counter the clay bowl effect, builders install what is called a "french drain" by the foundation footing. A french drain is a perforated pipe -- or drain tile -- that runs along the external perimeter of the foundation. Its job is to collect water from around the basement and divert it away, ideally with the help of a sump pump. The problem with french drains is that, even when they are properly installed (and many aren't) they tend to clog or collapse over time. This is why many previously dry basements, like your friend's, suddenly begin to leak for no apparent reason. Other possible cause for this problem is sump pump failure -- it can be something as simple as a jammed floating switch or a defective check valve, causing the water pumped to return to the sump pit. So here's what I would suggest. Start with a visual inspection of the sump pump. Is it working? Can you see the water coming out at the end of the discharge line? if it is churning but not getting rid of the water, have it repaired or replaced. Next take every step to keep that soil around the foundation as dry as possible by making sure the gutters are clean and in good working condition. (or install them if the house has no gutters). If the downspouts are discharging too close to the basement wall, install inexpensive downspout extensions to divert the water as far away from the house as possible. The terrain around the house should be graded as well, sloping away from the foundation. Changes in landscaping can also help. Keep plants that need constant water, as well as sprinklers as far in the yard as possible. If the problem persists, it is time to repair the foundation drainage system which can be done two ways. By digging the entire foundation out and replacing the faulty french drain or by installing an interior drainage system, along the internal perimeter of the basement wall. Internal systems are usually more affordable and some systems are a more permanent solution, because unlike exterior french drains and generic corrugated pipe internal systems, they were specifically designed for this purpose and can be fitted with service ports for maintenance. Should the system ever clog, it can be easily flushed without any further excavation. Waterproofing contractors that install this kind of System usually back it with a Transferable Lifetime Warranty. I hope this information will help with your friend's problem.
    • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Oct 31, 2013
      @Basement Systems Thanks for the extensive response! Sump pump working? Yes, we tested it. Discharge line? No, we'll need to visually inspect it. Gutter drainage? I'll take a closer look. I'll have to look into the internal drainage system. That sounds like a more affordable solution. Thanks again for the insight!
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 31, 2013
    something spilled on the carpet? pets in the home?
    • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Oct 31, 2013
      @KMS Woodworks not in this case. After pulling the baseboard off, we could see the source is originating within the wall or from outside the foundation.
  • Linda Linda on Nov 01, 2013
    Clog rain gutters can cause this. The rain water will pour like buckets over the gutters and not into the down spouts and a way from the foundation like it should. This happened to me after a heavy rain storm and the water seeped into the basement.
  • Eileen Dallas Eileen Dallas on Nov 04, 2013
    we had the same problem with the wall behind our water heater. when the plumber changed it out, there was only one spot of mold. he told us to clean it with bleach before he installed the new water heater.
  • Tyler Golberg Tyler Golberg on Nov 04, 2013
    We took a closer look this weekend and it appears to be two different causes. The first is the gutters were plugged up and most likely created the leak into the house. The second problem is the contractor who built the house put in a double vapor barrier, which essentially trapped moisture in the wall.
  • Molds are a nightmare and one of the leading causes of mold is damp walls and home interiors. Mold is dangerous and if water damage is not addressed in time it could lead to the formation of mold which affects homes and offices in more ways than one can imagine. The best way to deal with this situation is to call experts. A water damage company can look into the situation immediately and bring it in control and prevent major damage.
  • Lindy Lindy on Apr 04, 2016
    This speaks to a possible crack in the foundation and is similar to what we are having repaired as I type--Good luck, and if it's mold act quickly. Spray peroxice on the area and if it bubbles, it's mold and is one of the most effective ways to remove it. Bleach is caustic with odors, etc.
  • Marge Marge on Apr 04, 2016
    following having the same problem in the basement - but the water is coming in under the full length cement porch in the middle
  • Joye Harris Joye Harris on Nov 12, 2016
    "White vinegar sprayed on the mold infected area and the surrounding area" kills mold spores and is a deterrent. It is important to correct the cause of the water leak. It is not toxic.
  • Stephanie corley Stephanie corley on Nov 12, 2016
    I have always used a water bleach mix. Be sure to wear a mask around all mold areas. The water problem needs to be addressed first as someone else said. But all the mold will need to be removed and any wall board or wood that cannot be wiped clean with the bleach/water. Mold spores can enter nasal passages and really create havok exacerbating allergies and sinus infections.
  • Riley Turner Riley Turner on Jul 20, 2018

    Spray vinegar to mold area and let it work. Or hire a professional who look into it for further solution.

  • Mariusjon Mariusjon on Sep 20, 2021

    I was told that from mold need to eliminate high humidity, how to do this?

  • Wongxxa Wongxxa on Sep 20, 2021

    The primary method of controlling moisture is to ventilate the bathroom sufficiently.

  • Wongxxa Wongxxa on Sep 22, 2021

    The primary method of controlling moisture is to ventilate the bathroom sufficiently. In typical houses, the ventilation is usually carried out naturally through vents in the upper part of the walls or the ceiling. Check the quality of the draft by placing a sheet of thin paper against the vent window grille. If the current is good, the sheet will be held by the airflow. If there is low draught, you should clean the ventilation grill and sometimes the ventilation duct itself. If this measure is not enough, you can turn to an exceptional service specializing in removing mold. In this case, it is necessary to ensure an air supply from other rooms, for example, by opening the door for a while.