Basement Remodeling: Best Practises in Heating and Mold Control

"Builder sued after mold evicts woman"
-Cincinnati Enquirer, June 3, 2002

"About 38 percent of homes have mold and fungus growth due to elevated moisture."
(The American Society of Home Inspectors) Molds grow indoors on virtually any substance when moisture is present.

Basements or concrete slabs are the largest sources of moisture. Pores in concrete do not only let in moisture, but they actively draw it inside by capillary action. The average basement lets in 18 gallons of moisture each day, several times more than bathrooms and kitchen combined!

Molds and dust mites aggravate or cause allergies and asthma, particularly, in children. The incidence of allergies and asthma has doubled in the last decade, which has been linked to the increase in air-borne molds in modern energy-efficient homes.

So... Now that you know about the moisture problems associated with basement slabs, what can you do now to improve your basement's health conditions?

The only effective way to control biological air contaminants like molds, fungi, dust mites, and bacteria is to control the cause. Your goal: eliminate the sources of moisture and reduce humidity in your basement!

A very good solution to eliminate moisture from the slab is electric floor heating.

The drying effects of floor heat will reduce the humidity coming from the slab, which is the largest source of moisture. If you remodel your floor, electric floor heating is easy to install.

European research performed in 21 households shows a 50% to 80% reduction in domestic dust mite populations in the households with radiant floor heating, thereby improving the quality of life (particularly for allergy sufferers).

Find out more about the study: Evidence of floor heating systems in controlling house-dust mites and moulds in basements.
"Millions of dust mites live in mattresses, pillows, carpets and, well, dust. These irritating creatures hunker down deep in carpets and ordinarily are not much bothered by vacuum cleaners. The warmth of radiant floors, however, drives the cold-blooded little guys to the top of the carpet where they can be sucked right up. Also, dust mites need moisture and humidity. The drying effects of radiant floor heating make it difficult for them to get it." - William Clinton.

How can you get electric floor heating? is a good place to get an instant quotation for electric floor heating for your basement, you can visit, and click to the "Online Project Planner", which will allow you to design your custom floor plan. To go directly to the design tool click below:
WarmlyYours Floor Heating Design Tool

WarmlyYours will give you an online quotation and you will be able to order the system direct from manufacturer in just few clicks. Your local contractor or handyman will be able to install the system and you will be ready to enjoy your new heated floor.

Radiant Floor Heating Rolls

WarmlyYours Tempzone
Electric Floor Heating

FREE Ebook. Electric floor heating is also a solution to cold basements. When your home was first built, the odds are that there were few if any registers or vents installed in the basement. Your basement is likely cold or not appropriately heated. Electric floor heating can work as the only source of heat. Combined with a forced-air heating system, you will just need to keep the floor warm a few hours a day to add the necessary warmth to your basement. Open Your Ebook: Heidi Winings installs electric floor heating in her basement. (when prompted, click on "Open" to read our ebook)
Please note this book is only available for Windows users.

Besides heated flooring, what else can you do against moisture and how can you reduce humidity?

Dehumidifiers are used in many basements. But they consume lots of energy on condensing water, which is released into the air as heat. This, in turn, adds to the air-conditioning load. More importantly, dehumidifiers draw in through the concrete more moisture with dissolved chemicals, which accelerates efflorescence and deterioration of the concrete. Minimize or entirely avoid dehumidifiers by eliminating the source of dampness and deep-sealing the concrete.

If you have a sump pit, cover it up and seal it airtight with silicone caulk. Caulk any openings and cracks in the concrete with self-leveling caulk. Insulate air-conditioning ducts to prevent condensation. Reduce the amount of water around your foundations with proper gutters, downspout extensions, and by grading the soil. If you have a crawl space, cover the soil with heavy polyethylene sheets and ventilate the space to the outside. Clean humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning condensing units regularly with chlorine bleach.

Mold Remediation with RadonSeal

RadonSeal is very effective in getting rid of molds and mildew, dust mites, and other biological contaminants in homes. By deep-sealing the concrete in your basement or foundation slab with RadonSeal, you will eliminate the largest source of moisture in your home. Reducing humidity is the key to stopping molds and mildew, and to preventing their recurrence.

What kind of material should you use in your basement? There are several levels of material vulnerability to mold.

The most vulnerable materials are those that contain starches or sugars, such as paper covered products, like gypsum, and suspendable ceiling tiles (dropped ceilings). (An indication that these materials are vulnerable is that one drop of water every 12 minutes could produce visible mold in two days.)

The next level of vulnerability includes materials that produce mold when exposed to humidity levels of approximately 95%, such as medium density particle-board and fiberboard.

Sapwood and hardwood lumbers are relatively mold resistant.

The most resistant materials are porcelain, ceramic tile, PVC, and rubbers.

There is a new gypsum board covered with fiberglass “Dens Guard” by Georgia Pacific, which appears to be good at resisting mold growth.

In places where keeping the material dry is impossible, use resistant materials that are easy to clean. For example, mold cannot grow on porcelain, but it can grow on dust on porcelain. A common example is the backside of toilets: paper fiber sticks there when the surface is wet, and mold can grow.

Mold remediation guidelines:
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
The Environmental Protection Agency
New York City Mold Remediation Guidance