Mold in crawl space

crawl space Mold

Mold growth is a nightmare for every house owner. Molds spread with the help of spores. These spores enter your house either by the medium of air or with people, pets, or objects. And since they are invisible to the naked eye, there is no way to stop them from entering your house. So mold spores are present everywhere, indoors as well as outdoors. Unfortunately, there are plenty of breeding grounds for mold in your home. Once a mold spore sits on such an area, it will grow without any hindrance until you remove it. Following are some of the areas in your that are common breeding grounds for mold:-

  • On exterior and interior walls that have faced water damage.
  • In refrigerator drip pans.
  • Under the kitchen sink.
  • Plumbing leaks.
  • Mattresses.
  • Bath toys of infants.
  • Dusty carpets and upholstery.
  • Houseplants.
  • Building materials containing cellulose
  • Crawl space of a house.

The breeding grounds mentioned above are not all. There are many other areas in your house too that may offer a suitable environment for mold growth. You are suggested to inspect these areas for the presence of mold regularly. Some types of molds, for example the stachybotrys chartarum or black mold, are toxic. They cause health problems such as worsening the condition of asthmatic people, causing allergic reactions like skin irritation, runny or blocked nose, sneezing, etc in people who have mold allergies, and respiratory problems to people who have weak immune systems.  Since they affect people with weak immune systems, they pose a health risk to old people and infants who are exposed  to them. So molds, especially toxic ones, are not to be taken lightly at all.

       Even though not all types of mold are toxic, all of them must be removed completely from your house. You must not let them reach an extensive growth. Even the mold is not toxic, it will cause odor and discoloration on the surface it grows on, which are undesirable. In case the mold has reached an extensive growth in your house and if it’s toxic, you must hire a professional mold remediation service. A typical house wouldn’t have the equipment and expertise needed for dealing with an extensively grown mold.

        In this article, we are going to have a look at the ways to prevent or remove mold from crawl space. A crawl space is a hollow area very short in height between the ground level and the first floor that is found in many homes. Crawl spaces provide favorable conditions to mold for breeding. If you have a crawl space in your home, you might find the information given here to be helpful.

Types of mold in crawl space 

There are different types of molds that can grow in your crawl space and in your house in general. Following are the various types of molds that you might find in the crawl space of your house:-

Black mold: There are two types of black mold: stachybotrys chartarum and stachybotrys atra. Even though they are called black moles, they are actually greenish or dark grey in color. Black molds are the most harmful and contain mycotoxins. They are also known as toxic molds. They might have a fuzzy, bumpy, powdery or even a flat surface. This type of  mold poses health risks to people who have weak immune systems.

black mold

Yellow mold: Yellow mold grows mainly on wooden surfaces. This type of mole is very dangerous as it is capable of destroying your house from within. You must always beware of yellow mold for that reason. You are suggested to inspect your crawl space thoroughly and regularly.

White mold

White mold: Even though white molds are not as harmful as the yellow and black ones, they are still capable of producing toxins. You must treat white molds with equal seriousness as the black and yellow ones. You  will find white mold growing generally on floor joints and exposed soil.

Yellow mold

Signs of mold in crawl space

If there is mold growth in your house, it will surely give off one or multiple signs. You may simply not be able to detect the presence of mold in all cases. In those cases, these signs would help you to determine and find mold growth in your house. Following are the signs that might indicate mold growth in your house:-

1.Discoloration

This is perhaps the sign of mold that is the simplest to spot. If you face unexplained discoloration on the surface of any area in your home, it might be a sign of mold. Mold growth on any surface causes it to be discolored. So if you spot discoloration on a surface that is unexplained, you might want to get it inspected for mold infestation.

2.Symptoms of the health problems caused by mold

If any person in your home is inexplicably showing the symptoms of the health problems that are caused by toxic mold, it can be a sign of mold infestation. Following are the symptoms that might be an indication for mold growth in your home:-

  1. Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions to mold include coughing, sneezing, skin irritation, runny or blocked nose, etc. If any person having mold allergy is exposed to mold for a considerable period of time, they will show these symptoms. You might want to inspect or have your home inspected for mold in case you find someone inexplicably showing these symptoms in your house.
  2. Respiratory problems: Toxic mold can cause respiratory problems in people who have weak immune systems. If any person in your home starts having respiratory problems and there can’t be any explanation found for it, it might be the case that the person has been exposed to mold. That in turn would mean that there is mold growing in our house somewhere. You are advised not to take any chances and inspect your home for the presence of mold, especially if there is an infant or any old person. Also, if there is an asthmatic person in your home whose condition is inexplicably worsening, it might be a sign of mold growth.

3.Musty odor

When there is mold growth in any part of your house, it is sure to give off a musty odor. If you have been getting a musty odor and not been able to determine its source, it might be the case that it’s caused by mold growth in your home. All types of molds give off a musty odor. Besides discoloration of the surface, musty odor is another sign that is observed in every type of mold growth.

4.The floor feels soft and moist

Another sign of mold infestation, both in a crawl space as well as the home in general, is the floor feeling moist and soft. Now, there can be other reasons for the floor of your home being moist and squishy. But if you cannot find any reason or explanation for it, you might want to inspect it for mold growth.

Once you find mold in the crawl space of your home, the best thing to do would be to get rid of it as soon as possible. It won’t be good to let crawl space mold remain untreated for a long time. This is because mold in crawl space can have adverse effects on your home. So you must get on right away with the task of removing it with the help of the right equipment and right method.

Equipment that you require for the task

In order to deal with mold problem in your crawl space, you need the following equipment:-

  1. The very first thing that you must arrange for is a personal protective equipment such as a dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves.
  2. Garbage bags for the purpose of moldy material and for garbage lying around in the crawl space.
  3. An oxygen based cleaner such as oxygen bleach.
  4. A polyethylene moisture barrier for covering and a termite control product.
  5. Dehumidifier.
  6. Industrial dehumidifier  (optional)
mold-remediation

Process of removing the crawl space mold

After arranging for the equipment that has been mentioned, you can now start with the process of removing the mold. In order to remove basement crawl space mold effectively, you must follow the steps as given below:-

  1. The very first thing that you would want to do is to assess the dimensions and conditions in the crawl space and prepare for the task accordingly. You would want to be comfortable while performing the task. Also, in addition to that, you must also consider your safety. You must wear personal protective gear while dealing with a serious problem like mold. Also, try to wear clothing that can be disposed of after the task is done. This would help in ensuring that the mold spores don’t return by clinging to your clothes.
  2. The very first step in the actual mold removal process would be crawl space encapsulation. But before that, there is another thing you must do. You must thoroughly inspect pipes, wires, and crawl space vents or HVAC ducts for any issue or damage. If there is any leak in the pipes or air vents, or if the wires are loose, make sure you get it all fixed before you encapsulate the crawl space.
  3. After you make sure that all issues are fixed, you must look for water accumulation on any part of the crawl space or on the foundation. In case you find water accumulation, you must get rid of it. You can use a sump pump for this purpose, which will make the task simpler for you. The crawl space must be completely dried out in this way. You must also clean out the garbage lying in the crawl space if there is any. And in case you have been using the crawl space as a kind of storage space, then you must remove all the items that you have kept stored in there.
  4. After being done with the drying and cleaning out of the crawl space, you can start with removing the mold. There are a lot of porous surfaces such as wood, cement, etc in a crawl space. While dealing with mold problems on these types of surfaces, it won’t be enough if you just disinfect the surface. You have to completely remove the mold and ensure that it doesn’t grow back. An oxygen-based cleaner such as oxygen bleach would be effective in removing mold from such a surface. You must treat all surfaces including the foundation walls and the sub-floor with the cleaner. This would ensure that the hidden mold if there is any, gets wiped out as well. After treating with the oxygen-based cleaner, you must rinse the surfaces and dry them thoroughly. The next step would be to ensure protection to the surfaces from future moisture intrusion.
  5. For the purpose of ensuring protection from moisture intrusion, use the moisture barrier on the surface. Also, in addition to the moisture barrier, you are also suggested to treat the surface with the termite control product. Adding termite protection is advised because mold is not the only problem that you can have in your crawling space. The moist and humid conditions of your crawl space also offer a suitable breeding ground for termites, another nightmare for your home. By treating the termite control product, you will be ensuring in advance that your crawl space is free from the threat of termites alongside that of mold. After treating the product, let it dry up and you’re done with this step.
  6. After ensuring future mold problems and termite growth, the next step would be to cover the whole surface of the crawl space with the polyethylene moisture barrier. Depending on the climate condition that you live in, you can also choose to use a dehumidifier in case you need it.

You can also use this same method of mold removal for attic crawl space, in case your home has one.

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