While most people realize that mold can easily grow in the crawl space of their home, it’s important to understand that it cannot only be very hazardous to your health, but it can also eat away at your home’s structural supports. We asked the mold remediation experts at Elite Moisture Solutions about what to look for in the crawl space when trying to identify if mold exists there, but also what are the health risks and property damage that can result from leaving mold to grow unchecked.
Early signs of mold in crawl space
Early identification of the mold is essential to the prevention of an outbreak. It is important to bear in mind that mold can spread very easily, so taking the required measures at the first signs of a mold outbreak will go a long way to avoid significant harm to health and property. But first things first, how do you identify mold, and what should you do if you realize you have mold growing under your home?
One of the fastest ways for mold to grow is in your crawl space because it doesn’t require sunlight, and moisture is a major factor for mold growth. Usually it’s pretty easy to see mold growing within your crawl space since it appears as either a white or black crust that runs along the wooden structures, but even if you don’t see mold, you’ll be able to identify it when your nose gets stuffy or running, or your eyes get itchy.
Health Hazards of Mold
Mold can adversely affect your health, and prolonged exposure to crawl space mold can lead to a number of health problems. These symptoms may include irritation of the ears, coughing, and wheezing, nasal stuffiness, irritation of the mouth, irritation of the ears, or even irritation of the skin.
In addition, certain more severe diseases, such as obstructive pulmonary disease, have been associated with prolonged exposure to mold from moisture and damp areas in general. If mold levels are high enough, these conditions can be apparent even if you don’t visit your basement.
Dangers of Mold to Property
Mold (and mildew) are fungi that grow up around moisture. Although they signal problems with moisture and can cause discoloration, they themselves may not cause wood decay. However, they can boost the water absorption of wood, which can make it more vulnerable to fungal growth.
Rot can occur anywhere in the house, but the most common location is the crawl space or basement since it has an environment where there is very little light and moisture can be conducive to mold growth. Floor joists, girders, and sill plates — mainly the entire floor frame structure under your house — are susceptible to rot.
Mold Remediation, Repairs, and Crawl Space Encapsulation
Once you have determined that you indeed have mold growing under your home, the first step is to remove all mold, repair any damaged wood, and finally seal the crawl space so the issue doesn’t reoccur.
The wisest step is to hire mold remediation professionals who are not only very familiar with how to remove all traces of mold, but can also assist in repairing the damage, and most often provide crawl space encapsulation services as well. Breathing mold spores during the removal process is dangerous, and repairing is not easy, so let the experts handle everything. Once they’ve removed all the mold and made the necessary repairs, the encapsulation process will involve that they clear out all unnecessary debris from under your home, apply an insulated vapor barrier to reduce ground moisture, seal off all the cracks, vents, and other locations where moisture can get in, and finally install a dehumidifier that will prevent moisture from accumulating.