Sad to say, an inspector told us that our basement has the beginnings of a black mold problem. I heard this can be a catastrophe, costing a fortune. Is there a safe way to handle the problem without getting trapped into a complete basement remodeling project?
Wayne L. ~ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hi Wayne, You are absolutely correct, a black mold problem can escalate rapidly and cost a lot for remediation and remodeling. It is very important that you stop the spread of the mold as soon as possible.
Several years ago I had a home under construction and just before it was finished the buyer had to back out due to a lack of financing. My focus shifted elsewhere as I had other homes that were nearing completion, but I had noticed just before I closed the home up that there was what looked like mold on a sheetrocked wall next to a basement window. When I got back to the house a few weeks later that entire room was covered with black mold, all of the walls and the ceiling. What might have been a minor repair became a major and expensive issue.
I would have a mold remediation company come in as soon as possible to remove the molded area. I can't tell you how much it might cost as I don't know how extensive it is, but in my area it costs about $3.50 a square foot to remove a sheetrocked wall including the wood framing. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania might be a little more expensive, but I would think it would be worth it to pay the cost now rather than let it turn into a major problem.
It is also important to determine what is causing the mold problem. If that isn't corrected, the mold is going to come right back. Many times it is just a small exterior leak that is allowing outside moisture in. It could be as simple as a broken piece of exterior flashing or some caulking that has come loose.
After the molded area has been removed you can wait to have new framing, insulation, and sheetrock installed if you want. It might even be a good idea to wait for awhile to make sure the mold doesn't return. Without a doubt this is all going to cost some money, but catching the mold in the early stages is going to cost much, much less than waiting until later to try to fix the problem.