Many of my clients often ask me why mold is a problematic in-home issue for Philadelphia and the surrounding PA counties. The answer is very simple, basements. Basements probably make up 50% of our remediation projects and that is significant when you consider we deal with attic mold, crawlspace mold, bathroom mold and kitchen mold. The reason why basement mold health is so poor in areas such as Bucks, Montgomery and Chester Counties is that so many of the homes in these areas are very old. Many of these homes are 100 or more years old and were built in a time when basements were simply a place for storing coal. The same is true for Philadelphia row homes which were only 6 feet high and had dirt floors. In the last 20 years or so, it has become very popular to transform these damp and musty spaces to bright finished living spaces. This is a great way to expand your living area without the high cost of an addition.
The problem with this trend is that it coincided with the new sheetrock (gypsum board) technology which made creating walled rooms much faster and easier than the old plaster and lathe system. Why is this a problem? It’s a major problem because sheetrock happens to be one of the greatest forms of a mold food source that humans have ever invented. Sheetrock is gypsum (soft sulfate mineral-based material) with paper facing on both sides. The use of sheetrock alone is of course not the main problem in basement mold health. The main source of mold-related basement problems is moisture. The Delaware Valley is composed of Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties in PA. All of these areas are near a major river and are low lying. These means the water table will be high and therefore increase the chances for hydrostatic pressure in the below grade levels of a home, i.e. the basements. Moisture coupled with a great food source (sheetrock) and the occasional bad habit of storing items in cardboard boxes equals very poor basement mold health and contributes to the recent boom in mold remediations, mold removal and mold-related health issues.
There are some very simple steps to guarantee you have a healthy basement and ultimately a healthy home.