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How should this mold situation be approached?

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I recently moved in with my grandma because it's closer to work. The house is nearly 50 years old and the basement isn't used very much. Mostly just to do laundry. Anyhow, I was working on a full clean - vacuuming everything, moving furniture, wiping walls, ceiling, etc. While doing this, quite a few spots stuck out that look like mold. In reality, the house will probably be sold in 2 years, so dumping a ton of money in for professional inspection/removal would only happen if it was severe. Here are the some of the spots. Can anyone give advice on the best way to approach this situation?

Mold around the windows and on the drywall near the windows (7 windows total)


Closeup of the drywall near some of the windows


Looks like it got wet somehow and damaged the 'great' wallpaper. Is this actually mold or just something with the glue getting damp and staining?


Ceiling tiles


More yellowing on walls


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Only a laboratory knows for sure if it's mold but I'd be surprised if at least some of it weren't. Some of it is definitely water stains.

That's quite a bad case you've got there. I'd leave it to a professional mold remediator to get it out, one smart enough to tell you where the moisture came from that allowed the stuff to grow in the first place.

When very small and only under some conditions, I sometimes suggest that the stuff be removed with Tilex, on condition that a mold consultant be brought in if it comes back. I don't recommend mold inspectors anymore. They know enough to charge you but no necessarily enough to help you.


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What do you look for when searching for these services? Also, what are the expected costs?

Without testing, obviously it's impossible to know the severity and details, but from the pictures, would you think it is unsafe to spend a few hours a day down here? The plan is to sell the house as-is in 1-2 years, so dumping a lot of money into it for mold remediation is last on our list. The current thought is buy an air purifier, and sprays the visible mold with a mold spray. Thoughts on this?

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Something leaked. Mold grew on tbe materials when they were wet.

It's still mold, but unless it's still wet it's either dead or dormant.

Fix the leak, replace any material removed in the process, clean up what's left with soap and water, prime it with Bin or Kilz, and paint it.

This is more the road we'd be taking. So you would suggest ripping out that section of drywall, inspecting behind it, cleaning it up, and putting new drywall in?

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I'm not so sure that hiring a mold remediation professional would equate to dumping money on it. Consider a buyer that comes along later with that stuff still there. I'll bet most folks would immediately do an about face and high tail it out the door.


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Rip out the ceiling tiles. They're ruined.

Remove the wallpaper. It's also ruined, and it wouldn't help resale anyway.

Find out what leaked. Fix it.

Replace any drywall that is mushy, or is flaky or chalky because it was mushy when it go wet. Plaster over any dings, scrapes or patches.

Replace any damaged materials under the drywall or ceiling tiles before putting the new stuff up. Wood, wiring, insulation, etc.

Wash moldy surfaces with soap and water. There are all sorts of mold specific cleaners at the orange or blue box stores if it's really wide spread. Read the directions.

Prime with a stain blocking primer, and paint with good quality paint.

I don't see anything in your pics that would prevent me from spending 6-8 hours down there, except maybe the wallpaper. I hate scraping wallpaper.

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You got a mold farm down there. Drywall is the ultimate mold food. Finish a basement with drywall without considering vapor and moisture movement, you get mold.

Glass block in your climate? Condensation and mold.

Older house? You probably have some cracks in the foundation that let water in. Stains and mold.

Personally, I'd strip the joint out. Funky finished basements don't necessarily add value, and in this case, it subtracts value.

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And personally, I wouldn't get hung up on thinking I needed some kind of mold specialist to strip the place. It's basic demo. Put it in a dumpster.

Yes, I know, this horrifies the mold removal contractors. That's OK. They're a bunch of shysters.

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An older inspector (one even older than me) told me once there are two kinds of basements, those that leak and those that will leak.

At 50 years it has probably morphed into the "has leaked" category.

What does your nose tell you down there?

I agree with Kurt that best long term remedy is gut job. Finished basements have never impressed me as they all have a dank feeling if not a smell as well.

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