Q&A: Brand new home with brand new mold!

We’ve moved into a brand new home and we’re having trouble with a section of the basement we requested be built into a storage area. Liquid water seeps into the room and fuzzy growths are appearing on stored items and the exposed wooden framework. The builder has since put white sheets of foam on the walls, but it hasn’t helped. What can we do? The room is worse than useless.

You’ve got mold growth and the solution is to reduce the moisture level in the area. Control that factor and your recurring problem will be solved. The first thing to understand is that sheets of foam are not only ineffective in this situation, but they’re probably making matters worse by trapping liquid moisture that would otherwise evaporate. There are two sources of water you need to deal with: liquid moisture from rain and melting snow that seeps through the concrete; and condensed water that develops inside the basement when warm, moist summertime air hits the cool walls. Step #1 is to remove all the stuff stored in the room, run a dehumidifier, and promote air circulation with a fan. After several days of this, coat the interior surfaces of the storage room with a product called Drylok by UGL. It’s a concrete waterproofing treatment that came in head and shoulders above anything else in a recent Consumer Reports test. You can get it at Home Hardware, Lansing and Cashway stores. A reputable builder should help you solve your problem since it’s obvious that a design and construction problem is the root cause of the difficulty.