Crawl Space Mold, Rot and Fungus

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  1. Causes Of Crawl Space Mold Growth
  2. Inclement Weather
  3. Mold Signs
  4. Types Of Mold
  5. Mold Prevention
  6. Leakage
  7. Mold Removal
  8. Free Inspection

Crawl spaces are prone to wood rot and mold growth, fungus and rot. Not all homeowners inspect their crawl spaces frequently enough, and they are unaware of the problems wood rot and mold can bring. Crawl spaces are ideal for places that are usually dry, but if you live in wet areas or humid areas like South Carolina, there will be a need to take the protection of your crawl space seriously. You need to know what damage rot and molds can do to your home and how you can prevent it as well as prevent a lawsuit as a homeowner or seller.

What Causes Crawl Space Mold and Wood Rot?

crawl space mold
Top is Mold Before and Then You Can See The After

Humidity and moisture are the common causes of mold and rot that can eat away at your home. Crawl spaces typically have a vapor barrier made of plastic material, but some don’t. Just by looking at how your crawl space is positioned between the earth and your home, you’ll see that the moisture in the soil can evaporate upwards. Moisture provides a breeding ground for mold, and mold continues to grow when a food source is available. When the wood used in crawl space structures turns damp, it attracts mold, wood rot and wood damaging pests.

Inclement Weather Can Cause Crawl Space Mold

Greenville South Carolina enjoys all 4 seasons and of course, that can also bring with it the problems associated with inclement weather such as hurricanes, rain, ice, snow, wind and so much more. For this reason, it becomes an ideal environment for pests that wish to invade your home. It is also conducive because of the humidity – to give rise to Mold invading your crawl space or wood rot eating your joists.

Signs of Crawl Space Mold and Rot

Foundation wall cracks lead to water leakage along the walls of the crawl space, which causes damage to the structure of the home. This can continually increase over time and dampen the interior wall. Once this happens, you get mold on the walls, and of course this provides perfect conditions for pests such as termites and others you don’t want in your home. You don’t see this immediately as it is a slow percolating and penetrating dampness. However, signs will start to show and will be clear to the physical perception.

Wood Rot and Mold infestation shows its signs once you begin to perceive those changes in your home that will alert you. You will smell it and things will feel damp as well as visual signs of the type of mold or rot. Your HVAC System can also spread that mold and therefore HVAC Systems should be inspected regularly.

Types of Rot and Mold

Before we continue, please understand that Scout’s Pest Control is not a mold remediation company, and we do not typically deal with dangerous mold. Should we suspect the home to be infested with serious mold conditions, we will look toward recommending a mold remediation company before we carry out any further work on encapsulation.

Now Let’s look at the varied types of rot and mold that can invade your crawl space. Mold can look like dirt or powder and you often find it in clusters or patches. As we mentioned before, it can spread quickly if you do not take precautions such as crawl space encapsulation.

There are three types that you need to be mindful of.

White mold

You can often see white mold on floor joists and exposed soil. This type of mold rarely appears during the cold weather. However, it is a clear indication of serious moisture problems.

Black Mold

Black Mold is potentially hazardous because it can trigger allergies. It is known to be the most harmful of the varieties of mold because of the mycotoxins it produces. If you suffer from allergies or any respiratory issues, black mold is something that should be remediated as soon as possible.

Yellow Mold

Yellow mold, which scientifically is know as ‘Serpula Lacrymans,’ and may be referred to as the house-eating mold. It gets its nickname from its tendency to feed on wood structures, and has been known to literally eat older wooden type homes. This type of Mold also is known to induce health problems in susceptible individuals

Wood Rot

Typically there are two main types of rot that can cause problems in the crawl space. These are known as dry rot and wet rot, one being more prevalent than another. Dry rot is typically the infestation of a living fungus and wet rot is natural decay due to high levels of moisture within the wood itself.

Dry rot is of course more serious and requires the removal and or treatment of the wood with fungicide. Wet rot is less serious and can often be remediated with barriers and water repellents.

Crawl Space Fungus

Fungus can often be mistaken for mold and rot, however there are differences. Whilst fungus is typically not as dangerous as molds or dry rot, it can cause problems in your crawl space.

Here is a typical example of white fungus in one of Scouts crawl space inspections before the crawl space was treated.

crawl space white fungus
Crawl Space White Fungi

Fungus in the crawl space often happens when there is 70% water saturation and the wood is consistently wet or there is standing water and leaky pipes and HVAC systems. There is another type of fungus and that is brown fungus which is more at home in consistently humid environments. This can be a problem in the South especially in summer where it is consistently humid.

The Conditions Required For Fungus

  • Spores – which are found everywhere, even in the air we breathe.
  • Temperature – fungus likes temperatures that are conducive to human survival, and even some colder temperatures as well.
  • Food – Fungus need food source to live and replicate. That is the cellulose in wood.
  • Moisture – Fungus need a relative humidity of at least 70%.

Preventing Crawl Space Mold, Fungus

You can prevent fungus, rot and mold from infesting your crawl space, and it is necessary to protect your greatest asset – namely your home. Here’s a few tips that can help you in your crawl space by taking the following measures:

Inspect Basement Cracks

Cracks in the basement foundation can’t be prevented, especially when your home gets older over time. However, you can prevent the issue from progressing worse by inspecting your house for possible saturation. Penetrating dampness can destroy the structure of your home and high moisture content means more chance of fungus, rot and mold.

Check drainage, Install a French drain and buy gutter extenders

If there are puddles of water around your home, the soil gets wet and the water seeps into the small cracks of the foundation. You can prevent this by purchasing gutter extenders just to make sure that the water that flows through the drainage can be at least six feet away from your property. Furthermore, you can ensure that your crawl space has a French drain installed to help with the elimination of the ingress of water into your crawl space

Ensure ventilation

Poor ventilation causes moisture issues. Check if you have sufficient ventilation in your crawl space. Some building professionals may advise you to close vents because crawl spaces easily lose warmth in winter when the vents are open. Nonetheless, during the summer closed vents can increase moisture especially when the air that enters the crawl space is hot and humid. Mold spreads easily in closed spaces, so it is a good idea to keep the vents open at times especially when you live in an area that gets hot and humid weather.

The Dehumidifier Should Be Installed Properly

crawl space mold, rot and fungus
Crawl Space Dehumidifier

Installing a Crawl Space Dehumidifier is also necessary to protect the crawl space from damaging moisture. However, they must be installed properly and safely to be effective. We have seen many that are actually really dangerous because no care of installation is evident.

Secure Insulation

Insulation in your crawl spaces can be secured using mechanical fasteners. The fasteners protect the sub floor and joists by holding the insulation well. If the current insulation shows signs of sagging or if it goes missing, this can mean that there is a water problem in your crawl space. Modern ways of insulation and treating rot and mold are available and should be discusses with your Crawl Space Professional.

Install the plastic vapor barrier properly

The sheeting plays an important role in keeping moisture out so you need to check if it is positioned accordingly. It should cover the whole area of the crawl space. It should go up a few inches along the walls of the foundation. To ensure that there is no standing water that can accumulate in the barrier, the sheeting layers need to have many overlaps. Below you can see an excellent example of how the crawl space can be treated with the appropriate Vapor Barrier. A word of caution, this needs to be installed by a crawl space professional and not all barriers are equal. Beware of fake or bad quality barriers being installed.

crawl space vapor barrier

Check for leakage

Ducts of your HVAC system as well as plumbing components may have leaks around them. Check any leakage to prevent water from forming a puddle in your crawl space.

Why You Need to Remove Mold Immediately

Mold spreads fast and can cause serious damage to your home. You need to take action immediately once you observe mold infestation. Mold in your crawl spaces needs to be vacuumed, sprayed, and scrubbed off the wood. It may look easy but it is not and brings with it many health concerns. A mold remediation specialist will be needed before any further crawl space work can be completed.

If the crawl space isn’t dried out and cleaned immediately, the wood could decay and will rot and may need to be replaced. You may see signs of fungus as noted above. Not taking action on this could require reconstruction of the crawl space and the cost is incredibly high. Never mind the conducive environment it offers to pests, after all, pests need a water source too and with water is abundance of food – well that’s the premise. Some pests like termites love to feed on fungus and wood. The paperwork for homeowner’s insurance for this kind of water damage can be troubling to deal with and cause grave concerns and restless nights. You may even find out that you are not covered and will have to pay out much more to repair your crumbling home. Crawl Space encapsulation has the potential to save you a lot of problems.

Crawl Space Mold Removal Needs A Mold Specialist

There are powerful chemicals that you can use to remove mold stains, but these contain harmful substances. You’ll need to wear protection and at the same time keep the crawl space well-ventilated. If you fail to follow these safety protocols, you may be at risk. It is best to hire a professional who can keep you out of trouble. Scout Pest Control deals with getting rid of the fungus and rot in your crawl space safely and effectively. However, mold will need the employ of a mold remediation specialist

The answer you have to your crawl space issues

Think about this; if you take action now, then you can protect your home from a myriad of problems that can be caused with moisture entering your crawl space. Everything from dangerous mold that could potentially kill you to the pests that invade to make their home your home and literally eat you out of house and home. Not to mention the fungus that also attracts those pests. A Crawl Space encapsulation when installed properly after any potential mold is dealt with, will protect your home for years to come.

Watch this video below to see how a free inspection could give you the intelligence you need to take action. Call Scouts Pest Control now and protect your greatest asset.

Free Crawl Space Inspection

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