Mold and mildew growth is a potential problem in every part of a house, but the conditions necessary for mold to grow and thrive are commonly found in crawl spaces. Soil, dust, and air currents bring in spores, while wood fibers and other sources of cellulose provide the nutrients on which mold feeds. The temperature and humidity differences between the air above and below the subfloor often cause condensation, providing the final ingredient that mold growth requires- moisture.
How Do I Know If There Is Mold In My Crawl Space?
A crawl space mold problem is often not immediately detectable. Mold tends to hide in tight, covered, inaccessible places, and areas under the house are not often visited by most homeowners. There are signs that mold is present in your crawl space aside from actually seeing it. Possible indications of crawl space mold include:
- A musty smell in the house when windows and doors are not open
- Poor indoor air quality, sometimes leading to health problems
- Warped floorboards, which are likely damp underneath
- A poorly ventilated, wet crawl space
- Recent flooding or pipes that have recently leaked or burst.
If you suspect your crawl space may contain mold, a professional mold remediation company can inspect it with advanced equipment. Tiny cameras on the ends of borescopes allow access to small crevices and minimize the need for drilling in the search for mold. Moisture meters measure the moisture levels of wood and masonry, while humidity and air temperature are measured with special gauges. Thermographic cameras can be used to highlight spots where mold growth is likely. Professional mold remediators will also be able to take samples of air, dust, and wood from your crawl space and analyze them for mold and spore content.
What Are the Dangers of Crawl Space Mold?
Once it has a foothold in your crawl space, mold can spread to other parts of your home. Besides causing property damage and emitting an unpleasant odor, the mold is also a health hazard. Since mold spores are usually airborne, the health risks of mold cannot be long contained. Some of the health conditions that mold can cause include:
- Allergic reactions
- Respiratory problems, including asthma
- Coughing and throat irritation
- Sinus congestion and sneezing
- Chronic headaches
- Skin Rashes
- Eye irritation
Some types of mold, such as black mold, are toxic and a greater health risk. Even white mold, however, which is less often toxic, can still be allergenic. Some people will react more strongly to mold than others, but it is a serious health hazard to everyone in the house.
How Can Mold Be Eradicated From My Crawl Space?
Wearing gloves, respirators, goggles, and protective clothing, mold remediators can safely and thoroughly remove mold from your crawl space. Such methods as the following will often be used:
- Scraping off mold manually and killing it with various chemical treatments
- Sand-blasting surfaces to remove ingrained fungal spores
- Applying anti-fungal coatings to ductwork, piping, and floor joists
- Using a wet vacuum to remove the mold
- Using a HighEfficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration vacuum to remove any spores on dust and debris in the area immediately surrounding the mold
According to GreenWorks, some individuals are highly sensitive to the chemicals used in mold remediation. In that situation, it is best if dry-ice or concentrated hydrogen peroxide treatments be used instead. These methods are just as effective but somewhat more costly, which explains why chemical treatment is more common.
How Can I Prevent Crawl Space Mold From Returning?
Whatever method is used; you should take GreenWorks‘ advice and seek a contractor who not only is certified for mold remediation but who also will correct crawl space moisture problems to prevent a recurrence. Without addressing the root cause, mold removal will be nothing but a waste of time and money. Some ways of preventing crawl space mold from returning include:
- Install a crawl space vent and a fan for ventilation
- Eliminate sources of water and moisture
- Insulate to reduce condensation buildup
- Completely seal off the crawl space from the outside.
Using an experienced contractor will help to ensure the problem is eliminated in one visit and that the result is permanent removal. Crawl space mold remediation involves working in tight spaces and disinfecting every nook and cranny. A good remediator will know how to find and kill every bit of mold and how to eliminate the conditions that promote its growth.
How Much Does Crawl Space Mold Remediation Cost?
Not as much as you think! The cost of mold removal and prevention can run anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The exact cost will be determined by such factors as the extent of the mold distribution, the size of the crawl space, the methods of removal used, and the need for a vent or mold-prevention device to be installed.
Suspect You Have a Moldy Crawl Space?
Give GreenWorks a call. They live at the cutting edge of where your home environment collides with the natural one and are experts at using simple, sound science to create affordable solutions to just about any environmental issue. “Psssst, check out this crawl space. Can you imagine how bad this smells!” https://youtu.be/qlOeZjq0FF0
Got Moisture, Odor, and Mold Issues?
[…] what Cathy calls a “cautionary tale” that “begins and ends” with a sage piece of advice: getting rid of mold, thoroughly and permanently, is a highly specialized job, which requires “confident expertise” […]
This is a very informative review. Thank you very much for sharing.
I never thought about checking my home crawl space for mold. That does seem like a good thing to do if you want to prevent mold from getting into the main part of your structure. I liked that you talked about installing a crawl space vent to help keep it air rated.
Mold can wreak so much havoc on you and your family’s immune system, especially if you don’t regularly check the condition of your crawlspace. Thanks for sharing these tips!