Mold prevention / cleanup, do we need to bother?

We had an inch or so of water in the unfinished portion of our basement. It was there for a maximum of 14 hours (the duration of the power outage). There are 2 wooden steps from the main part into the lower part (the part that got wet).

The rest of that space has a concrete slab floor and we can see concrete going up an inch or so, to where the walls are covered with insulation (which is in turn covered with plastic). We don’t think the insulation got wet as it doesn’t quite go down to the floor. At the most, the bottom edge would have gotten damp. If we’d had a lot of water in the basement, I could imagine we’d need to actually remove the insulation (we’re not sure if it’s fiberglass or cellulose or what - it seems to be yellowish underneath the plastic).

Everything that was in the basement was either up on shelves (stayed dry), or has been removed and either dried or discarded.

A friend who was helping us out suggested we should consider treating the steps with some kind of compound to prevent mold growth. I have no idea what that might be, and am inclined to just give it a quick scrub with a bleach solution.


A quick scrub with bleach solution IS “some kind of compound to prevent mold growth”. Better yet, it’s dirt cheap. Use it on the floor, too, can’t hurt to clean that as well.

Use the bleach. Keep an eye on the insulation (check it every few days/once a week) for awhile. If mold or mildew become evident then take the required steps to deal with it, otherwise, you’re good.

You have a very good idea what that might be. A diluted bleach solution is exactly what you’d use for mold. Easy peasy.

Yup, bleach. Couldn’t hurt to run a dehumidifer down there for a while.

do not mix anything with bleach other than water.

My wife makes a mean bleach and tonic.

There may already be mold spores in your wall and floor material. Since that’s porous material, bleach would not be the product of choice to remediate. What you really need is a biocide of some sort. You might try bleach to begin with, but bleach is mostly water, so you might also be adding to the problem.

We prefer whiskey and Windex :smiley:

Chefguy, the biocide thing is what we were wondering about. For what it’s worth, flooring is pretty much a nonissue since it’s concrete. There were some carpet scraps on part of the floor but those are going out with the trash tomorrow. We’ve had them up on chairs since the flood so they could drip dry. I wouldn’t trust them, mold-wise, and there’s no need to salvage them anyway so out they go.

We’re also tossing out a wooden “step” - basically the height of a stair, but standalone (not attached to anything) that got wet. It’s falling apart and we have better storage in that room anyway.

So the only two things of any real concern are the two steps into the room (wood) and possible the bottom edge of the insulation in places. I don’t yet know what the insulation is made of - some kind of yellowish floss-like stuff. It’s not pink (which I link to the fiberglass insulation).

If that is fiberglass or other synthetic vs. paperbased, is mold a real worry?

fiberglass can be pink or yellow colored in common brands.

Are there any windows so you can let in fresh air and/or sunlight? (UV is a fairly potent antibiotic.)

We got some pretty extensive flooding in our basement during Sandy- we’d told the landlord about the leaks, but in three years he’d still failed to do anything about it. And even after the flood, it still took a week for him to get anyone out here.

The flood company put us up in a hotel last night while they cleaned. They tore out all of the carpet and the paneling, so now our basement looks like a bomb hit. What really sucks is that the basement was our living room- so we can’t watch TV or relax in the house. The representative said the mold is worse than they thought- apparently we’ve had mold for a long time now (not surprising, considering how long we’d been leaking).

So now we’ve got an unfinished basement. It’s gonna take a lot of work just to get the landlord to pay for refinishing it.

Hope you or members of your family haven’t developed any respiratory problems. Mold in your living areas for long periods of time is not good.

If you are allergic to it, it can give you some respiratory symptoms, but as far as I know even so-called “black mold” (stachybotrys) has no actionable level anywhere in the country. I haven’t worked in the construction industry for several years, so perhaps that’s changed. For awhile there, lawyers were salivating over mold issues as “the next asbestos”.

I had mold in my kitchen wall from a bad roof joint. I feel lucky that it cost only a few thousand dollars to replace about a four foot section, and I still have to declare it when I sell the house, which will likely cost me a few thousand more in resale value. I’m paranoid about mold and wouldn’t mess around if there is any doubt if you might have it. Ounce of prevention and all that.