Your crawl space is located directly under your home, between the foundation and bottom of the home to offer extra support. There are many advantages to having a crawl space. For example, crawl spaces can help prevent termite infestations in your home and, perhaps most importantly, allow for easy access to pipes, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems that help keep your home comfortable.
But with these benefits comes great responsibility.
One of the biggest issues we see with crawl spaces is their ability to harbor mold growth. It’s one of the easiest places for mold to grow in a home. The good news is that this problem is very avoidable with the right precautions and maintenance to your crawl space. But first, let’s talk about how mold growth happens, why you should care and the health issues it can lead to.
What causes mold to grow in a crawl space?
Moisture build-up is the reason a lot of crawl spaces harbor mold growth. Mold quickly grows in places that are dark and moist. Crawl spaces are naturally going to be dark, but they don’t have to be - and shouldn’t be - moist.
Why should you be concerned about mold growth?
Mold is more than a nuisance. It can cause severe health issues for you and your family. You don’t have to physically be in your crawl space to be exposed to mold. The mold spores can easily travel through vents or even your subfloor and enter your home, where you breathe them in.
60% of the air from crawl space flows throughout your home. This is how the mold causes health issues for homeowners and their families.
These health issues may include:
Signs of depression
Or worse, mold can lead to severe health issues including obstructive lung disease. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Let’s talk about the 3 types of moisture that lead to mold growth.
Moisture is the reason mold grows in crawl spaces but all moisture is not the same. There are 3 main types of moisture that leads to mold growth:
#1 Penetrating Damp
This type of moisture finds its way into your crawl space from walls, plumbing leaks, HVAC or other mechanical failures within the crawl space. The moisture develops from these sources and then builds up over time, creating an ideal environment for mold to grow.
#2 Rising Damp
This type of moisture travels upwards from the ground into the crawl space, hence its name. We often see this type of moisture in crawl spaces that have not been encapsulated or protected by a vapor barrier. The constant wetness in the ground of the crawl space can lead to mold growth.
It used to be common practice to ventilate crawl spaces. Though there were good intentions for doing this, we often see that ventilation makes mold problems worse in crawl spaces because they easily allow for excess moisture, and thus condensation, to make its way inside the space.
Ventilation encourages outside air to enter the crawl space for airflow. But this causes a problem because the air outside tends to be warmer than the air inside a crawl space. This is most problematic during the warm weather months as the hot air flows continuously into the ventilated crawl space. The result? Condensation build-up.
Now that you know about mold, let’s address the elephant in the room. The fact is - homeowners don’t frequently visit their crawl space. If we’re guessing, you probably have NEVER visited your crawl space. We understand and that’s why we’re here to help.
What are the signs of mold growth to look for in a crawl space?
There are several key indicators we look for when we’re evaluating a crawl space for mold growth. Here are a few examples:
When we find green/pink/black spots around baseboards, as well as signs of water stains in your crawl space
When homeowners tell us they experience a consistent moldy or musty smell without any mold in clear sight
When homeowners tell us their family often has respiratory illness symptoms such as persistent cough, runny nose, or itchy eyes.
When homeowners tell us a member of their family has been sick with pneumonia or developing asthma but are otherwise healthy individuals
The best way to prevent health issues caused by mold for you and your family is by PREVENTING mold growth entirely in your crawl space and DETECTING MOLD GROWTH EARLY so it can quickly be stopped and removed entirely from the crawl space.
Has it been a while since your last crawl space inspection (if it has ever been inspected)?
Are you experiencing any of the signs that may point to mold growth in your crawl space?
If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions, we recommend that you set up a consultation (click here!) with us. Our team of experts will evaluate your crawl space and look for any signs of mold growth. If mold is detected in your crawl space, we will recommend the best plan to remove the mold entirely and prevent it from growing again, based on your unique crawl space needs and budget.