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Mold in Crawl Space

Mold in the Crawl Space – Is My Health at Risk?

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Given that the crawl space is prone to moisture and elevated humidity, it’s one of the places that’s likely to attract mold. And since it’s mostly left unchecked and dark, mold can grow for long periods, take over this space, and eventually enter your home. You’ll only realize something is wrong once you start feeling the effects of mold.

Chronic coughs, musty smells, asthma attacks, stuffy nose, and breathing problems are all indications mold is very much alive in the crawl space of your Grand Junction, CO, home.

What Type of Mold Can Get into the Crawl Space?

Mold exists naturally in the air. Some strains are harmless, while others pose health risks to humans.  With the right conditions, it can invade your home or crawl space and thrive in there. Common strains include:

Black mold: Also known as Stachybotrys, black mold is without a doubt the most toxic strain of mold on earth. It tends to grow on drywall, carpet, insulation, and subflooring that has been exposed to moisture or water. If you suspect you have black mold, get in touch with a mold removal company so they can ascertain the type of mold in your crawl space.

White mold: This type is generally white in appearance and has a powdery feel. Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium are among the common species that can grow in your crawl space or damp home. Some of the white mold could be in the developmental stage, and that means it’ll change color after some time. Because of its color, white mold may prove difficult to spot.

Yellow mold: Many people may not be aware of this species. Like the other species, it feeds on organic materials, moisture, and oxygen, all of which exist in the crawl space. It vigorously attacks wooden structures, causing them to decay and fall apart. So the moment you notice it growing, call a remediation company to eradicate it.

Note: If you spot any mold that’s black in color, it doesn’t mean it’s the deadly Stachybotrys. It could be any other strain. Only testing will uncover what type of mold you’re dealing with.

Sources of Mold in the Crawl Space?

Before you attempt to remove or treat mold, you must establish whether the mold is from an earlier issue or new growth. Mold doesn’t fade with time, and that can make it tricky to set out the timelines. An infestation from 10 years ago can look exactly like growth from a couple of months ago.

Get a moisture meter and test content on the subfloor and adjacent joists/beams. Anything higher than 20% moisture content should warrant further investigation. Also, check to see if the moisture affects a specific area or recurs through the subfloor. If the area is small, it’s likely you have local plumbing issues.

Anything less than 20% doesn’t indicate if the mold is an old problem. The reason is that mold growth originating from moisture building can happen at levels that a moisture meter cannot detect. Moderate growth may occur because of increased moisture on the surfaces of organic materials like wood.

If the crawl space subfloor is insulated and has mold, it’s likely you’re staring at mold from the original construction. Moisture from existing problems like the missing plastic encapsulation or inadequate vents won’t likely go past the insulation. It could be the subfloor was inundated by rainwater at the time of construction.

Who is at risk of mold infestation?

Any home with an open or vented crawl space is a good candidate for mold growth. Likewise, homeowners with leaky pipes below the ground area, cracks, and organic materials can experience mold growth at some point. If you experience flooding or water seepage, you’re also likely to see mold developing over time.

Does mold cause health problems?

Yes, it does. Most allergic reactions to mold spores may trigger fever-type symptoms that can make life miserable. Other allergic conditions caused by mold exposure are intense, and these include:

Mold-induced asthma:  Individuals who are allergic to mold can experience an asthma flare-up. This could force them to need the assistance of inhalers or anti-inflammatory drugs. If you’re asthmatic, be sure to have an emergency plan just in case you experience a severe attack.

Allergic fungal sinusitis: It’s an inflammatory response to fungus in your sinuses. People with these problems may also have nasal polyps or asthma.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: It’s a rare condition that results from direct exposure to airborne particles like mold spores or allergy-triggering dust. When your lungs come into contact with spores, they become inflamed.

Signs that you have been exposed to mold spores include runny nose, coughing, wheezing, itchy and watery eyes, skin rash or irritation and sneezing.

Dealing with Crawl Space Mold

Eliminating crawl space mold isn’t fun when you’re dealing with a serious infestation. The whole exercise is sometimes painstaking, but it’s something to think about as you carry out crawl space cleaning. In between scrubbing wood in confined space, a contractor may carry out HEPA vacuuming and spraying to eliminate it. Remediation isn’t cheap. It could run into thousands of dollars. So it’s best to fix the issues that may trigger growth such as:

  1. Vented crawl space – Seal up the entire crawl space with a polyethylene plastic barrier and install vent covers.
  2. Cracks on walls – Fix cracks on the crawl space walls that let in moisture.
  3. Organic materials – Remove cardboard, newspapers and old clothing in the crawl space.
  4. Internal moisture issues – Install a dehumidifier to control moisture.
  5. Decaying floor joists – Replace them as mold will feed on them.
  6. Flooding – Install a drainage system around the walls and a sump pump.
  7. Leaky pipes – Fix the pipes and insulate them.

Regardless of whether mold is dangerous or not, it’s advisable for you to stop it from taking over your home. Schedule a free crawl space inspection with the experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado and discover whether you have a mold problem or not.

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