It is no secret that crawlspaces in pier and beam foundations can harbor mold. And while for some mold might be less of an immediate concern than water damage or pest infestation, mold is a very serious problem, that not only has consequences to the structural integrity of your house, but most importantly, can have very serious consequences to your health and the health of those nearest to you.
We just mentioned that integrity of the structure could be compromised due to excessive mold making the value of your property take a dive, however in this post we would like to focus more on the hazard that it might represent to your health.
Musty smell, warped wooden floors, rotting or decaying wood joists or beams, white powdery substances and unexplained persistent illnesses accompanied by a running nose, itchy eyes, coughs and breathing problems are the signs of mold growing in your crawlspace. Other possible symptoms of mold diseases include redness of the eyes, rashes, watery eyes and stuffy nose and recurring sinusitis.
There are three main types of mold that might be attracted to your crawlspace, the first if which is black mold. This is definitely the most toxic and deadliest. It is dark gray or greenish in appearance; can be fuzzy or powdery. There are two variants of it and both can cause severe allergies or worsening existing respiratory problems like asthma. It is worth taking notice that the toxic microscopic spores that it releases do not like being contained, and will make their way into your living space and while it is dangerous to any member of the family, to highly sensitive people, people with underlying conditions and weak inmune systems it could become life-threatening.
Then comes the white mold. This often grows in the crawlspace, generally on exposed soil and damp wooden joists. It is fuzzy in its appearance, and while it might not be as dangerous as the next type of mold, it has the capacity of releasing toxins that can lead to health problems, so treat it just as you treat black mold: with extreme prejudice!
Then comes the yellow mold: this one feeds on organic materials; your wooden structure among them, causing decay and deterioration, and while it might pose less of a treat to your health you should also remove it as soon as possible, otherwise it will definitely cause damage to your house.
But how does mold get into your crawl space? Dampness and humidity are the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow. Damp soil, leaking water pipes, floodwaters, venting and organic materials in the crawlspace will exacerbate this situation.
The very first step is to be on the lookout on a regular basis. Check your crawlspace often and try to spot the signs of mold settling in. Then, identify the conditions that might trigger this, so you can rectify the situation; specially water leaks and condensation.
Draining any stagnant water is essential as this will cause moisture issues sooner rather than later, which will only contribute to mold growth. Also you will need to identify where that water was coming from; make sure to check and repair any leaking pipes, windows and roofs and cleaning and drying the crawlspace in case of a flood.
Sealing the crawl space is also a major step to prevent mold growth. If the crawl space is vented or exposed then it will take in moisture throughout the entire year, so sealing the crawlspace tightly will stop water form coming in from the outside. You can use a thick polyethylene vapor barrier to do this, making sure to seal any open vents.
Now that you’ve sealed the crawlspace tightly this will stop water from coming in, however you now have to account for condensation. So installing a dehumidifier will go a long way to stop this from happening.
The next thing is to check if the foundation itself needs to be repaired. Repairing cracks and replacing decaying wooden joist and beams will help deal with this problem and will also ensure that the structural integrity of your home remains in optimum conditions.
If you suspect there’s mold in your crawlspace or you just want to make sure, call us. We can schedule an inspection to check if there is any type of mold present, how to get rid of it and prevent it from coming back. At the same time we will be able to tell what state your foundation is in, and let you know in case there are any repairs needed to be taken care of before they become a major headache and damage your home. So call us now and let us help you take care of both your family’s health and the health of your house.