Mold, a fungus that grows extremely well in moist environments, can eat away at some of the vital structures in your home. While this does require a long time to happen, if left unchecked, mold can lead to serious consequences. Most homeowners tend to neglect their crawl spaces because they do not use them very often, nor feel as if they have the need to check on them. This is one of the reasons why crawl space mold is so common. If one is not adamant about maintaining their crawl space, mold and other problems can arise and quickly escalate.
If you live in Grand Junction, Colorado, you know more than anyone that it is one of the drier cities in Colorado. You may be wondering how crawl space mold could be a problem for you, especially since there is very little rain and the climate is semi-arid. However, mold can manifest in crawl spaces in Colorado due to the significant amount of snow that falls during the winter. The average annual snowfall is 15.8 inches. When this amount of snow melts, it can produce a large quantity of water that can invade your crawl space and increase the likelihood of mold growth.
Signs That You May Need Crawl Space Encapslation
Fortunately, there are many warning signs that one can watch out for before major structural damages happen. Some of them are subtle, while others are more prominent.
Mold growth is considered to be one of the more subtle problem signs of crawl space issues, but it can also become easily noticeable if left unchecked. Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in wet environments. This is why you are likely to find mold in areas that have a lot of moisture in the air or in areas that are constantly under exposure to high volumes of water.
There are also certain materials that are more likely to host mold growth. This can include various plant-like materials, such as wood or drywall because they contain lots of pores for the fungus to grow in, as well as the nutrients it needs to survive. Wood, for instance, can also retain much more water than concrete or stone. This can further aid the growth of mold.
Most crawl spaces contain wooden support structures and concrete walls. Since your crawl space is always exposed to the elements, water can easily enter your crawl space and become absorbed into these wooden posts. This is especially likely during the onset of spring and later into the summer, where the snow from winter melts and enters your crawl space. Furthermore, water can also increase the humidity levels within your crawl space. This moisture is an invitation for mold to grow.
Mold on wood looks spotty or splotchy and is black or grey in color. It also looks very similar on concrete, but mold on concrete can also appear striped. Sometimes, it looks like the normal discoloration of concrete, so it can be more difficult to tell. Mildew, another common type of mold, can look white, powdery, and even fluffy.
Unpleasant smells coming from your crawl space are another subtle problem sign that you need crawl space encapsulation. Musty odors tend to come from the growth of mold. Therefore, if you notice funny smells coming from below your house, it is likely that there is also mold growing down there.
Mold gives off a certain smell because they release chemical compounds into the air as they proliferate. These chemical compounds, also known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), are what produce the musty odors you smell. Although this sounds rather dangerous, it is more of a sign that you have mold growth somewhere in your home. You should not be overly worried about it, as long as you can find the mold and remove it.
Moisture can also draw unwanted pests to your home. Common household pests that are drawn to moist environments include, but are not limited to:
If you notice a pest infestation in your home with no notable cause, you may want to check the condition of your crawl space. It is likely that they have entered your living space through your crawl space due to the inviting wet environment.
Water damage is the most common trouble sign that your crawl space needs encapsulation. Water damage manifests in various ways, such as:
- Wood rot
- Cracks in concrete or wood
- Soil shrinkage, compaction, and settlement
- Sunken floors
Poor Air Quality
Your crawl space’s air quality is more important than one may think. In fact, the quality of your crawl space air can impact the air quality inside your home as well. For instance, if the air within your crawl space is humid, the first floor of your home may feel more humid than what you are used to.
Mold and water in your crawl space can change the air quality. This air can travel inside your house. If you or anyone else in your household are sensitive to allergens in the air, you may notice that you are sneezing and coughing more. Those with asthma may also have more flare-ups than usual. This is a common sign that you have poor crawl space air quality.
The humidity within your crawl space can increase when the snow from the winter season melts. This is typically a problem during the onset of spring and summer. This melted snow, mixed with warmer temperatures, can cause the humidity levels to rise dramatically. These are the ideal conditions for mold to grow.
Increased moisture levels in your crawl space may not be immediately noticeable, especially if you do not spend time around your crawl space often. However, much like the air quality, moisture in the air can seep into the first floor of your home. If you notice that your home is more humid than usual, you may want to investigate the condition of your crawl space.
What Causes Crawl Space Mold?
Knowing what causes mold growth within your crawl space can help you select the appropriate solution, as well as prevent it from coming back in the future. There are several main causes behind crawl space mold.
Some crawl spaces are built with open vents. These were traditionally built to allow air to circulate throughout your crawl space to prevent air stagnation and mold growth. However, this is only true if the crawl space is properly and regularly maintained and if you close the vents during rainy or snowy weather. In fact, having open vents can actually have the opposite effect, especially if left alone. While open vents can, indeed, improve air circulation in your crawl space, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Open vents can allow more water to enter your crawl space, and thus, pave the way for mold growth and other water-related damages, such as wood rot, concrete cracks, pests, altered air quality and humidity levels, and even flooding. Since open vents are standard for homes in Grand Junction, this can be very problematic.
Having well-functioning drainage systems is important for any area of your home. Your crawl space is no exception. If your crawl space drainage systems are not working efficiently or are damaged in some way, this may manifest as mold growth and other related problems. If pools of water are not properly drained, mold is more likely to grow.
The more important drainage systems in crawl spaces include, but are not limited to, sump pumps, downspouts, and perimeter drains. Homeowners should take the time to investigate these drainage systems, particularly the ones near your crawl space, to ensure that they are functioning properly. Without them, there is a very high likelihood that there is mold festering in your crawl space.
Grand Junction, Colorado, is abundant in heavy clay soil. This can be quite problematic for crawl spaces, especially for homeowners that are trying to avoid the growth of mold.
Clay soils are infamous for swelling upon water absorption and shrinking when water evaporates from soil particles. This repeated swell-shrink cycle can exacerbate moisture levels and even water accumulation in your crawl space. When soil particles continuously swell and shrink during seasonal changes, the overall integrity of the soil can become compromised or weakened. Weakened soil invites more water to build up between soil particles. This water buildup can affect the humidity levels in your crawl space and increase the chances of mold growth.
Crawl Space Mold
Mold removal can be quite dangerous. It is not as simple as getting rid of infested material or simply scrubbing.
How Do I Know How To Identify Mold?
It is important that homeowners are able to first differentiate between what is mold and what is not. First off, mold is a type of fungus that thrives in environments that are more likely to be moist and humid, such as your basements, plumbing, and your crawl space. They tend to cluster around areas that tend to be the wettest. Therefore, if you have a leak or an area of your home that is constantly exposed to the rain or snow, then it is very likely that you will have mold growing there, especially if it is not properly maintained.
Mold is usually black, blueish black, green, or white in color. Some molds have a fuzzy look to them as well. Mold releases chemicals as they grow that give off a musty odor. If you notice that there are unpleasant, musty odors, then you may have mold growing somewhere nearby. Homeowners should seek out the source before it becomes worse.
Why Is DIY Mold Removal Dangerous?
Mold removal requires certain tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to be done properly. If one does not use the proper equipment, one may inadvertently expose themselves to airborne spores released by mold. These airborne spores can cause health concerns, such as:
- Respiratory issues (coughing, wheezing, sneezing, irritated nasal passages and throat)
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
Even if you are able to remove the mold yourself, you may transport mold spores from contaminated materials to other areas. In the end, you may have just moved the problem elsewhere rather than removing it completely. Without proper decontamination of your equipment and your work area, the mold may also regrow in the same area all over again.
The contractors at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado offer both crawl space encapsulation and drainage system options for all your crawl space woes. Having one or the other can improve your crawl space drastically, but they can work even better together.
Pros of Encapsulation and Drainage Alone
Encapsulation essentially refers to waterproofing. This includes the vapor barrier offered by Foundation Repair of Western Colorado that prevents moisture accumulation. It is through this ability that the vapor barrier can protect the wood or concrete in crawl spaces from water damage. Technically, the vent covers that are also offered can be considered crawl space encapsulation because it contains an airtight seal.
Crawl space drainage, such as the patented CrawlDrain™ Crawl Space Drainage System and the CrawlSeal™ Drainage Matting, can remove existing water within your crawl space. While it does not prevent water accumulation, it certainly can get rid of it.
Pros of Having Both
Having both tools can maximize the condition of your crawl space. With both crawl space encapsulation and various drainage systems, you can guarantee that your crawl space remains dry all year-round and your home’s conditions will be improved.
Encapsulation works more as a preventative method while drainage systems work as your first offense. Therefore, both can work as a team to protect your crawl space from the snow in Colorado and drain away any water that does enter. Discuss these options with a contractor to see if it works with your budget.
The characteristics of clay soil make crawl space mold more likely. How does it do this?
Clay Soil Characteristics
Upon exposure to water, clay soil expands to double or triple its original size. As it dries, it shrinks. These shrinking and swelling cycles weaken the soil by shifting it around and loosening dense, undisturbed soil. Grand Junction, Colorado, is likely to experience a lot of these shrink-swell cycles due to the significant amount of annual snowfall that melts as temperatures get warmer.
Weakened soil is vulnerable to compaction and settlement. When soil becomes compacted and settled, soil levels can diminish. This can allow more water to enter your crawl space because there is less soil to absorb it.
How It Creates Mold
Mold grows best in wet environments. Since your crawl space is continuously exposed to melted snow each year, the clay soil is very likely to shrink, compact, and settle. As this occurs, more water can collect within and around your crawl space over time.
More water means higher chances of mold growth. This is especially true for crawl spaces that are supported by wood, which is very common in Grand Junction. Therefore, having clay soil increases the likelihood of crawl space mold.
How Can I Fix Crawl Space Mold in My Basement?
Mold is incredibly unsightly, has unpleasant odors, and can be harmful to one’s health if not taken care of promptly. Fortunately, the Foundation Repair of Western Colorado has several solutions to fix and prevent mold growth in your crawl space.
Since open vents in crawl spaces can invite water and increase the risk of mold growth, CrawlSeal® Crawl Space Vent Covers are one of the ideal solutions to prevent further proliferation. What makes the CrawlSeal® Crawl Space Vent Cover so special is its airtight seal that keeps even the slightest amount of moisture out. Installation is also very quick, so it is perfect for homeowners that are in a hurry to seal their open vents as soon as possible. In fact, the contractors at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado can install the CrawlSeal® Vent Cover within a day so you can reap the benefits of a dry and protected crawl space fast.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
While the CrawlSeal® Crawl Space Vent Cover prevents water from coming in, it is still important to maintain the moisture that already exists within your crawl space, as well as prevent future water-related issues. The CrawlSeal™ Vapor Barrier effectively combats moisture buildup (and therefore maintains humidity levels) and mold growth due to its waterproofing capabilities.
The polyethylene that the CrawlSeal™ Vapor Barrier is constructed from allows it to be waterproof and allow it to maintain regular temperatures within your crawl space. It combines both high-density polyethylene for durability and low-density polyethylene for flexibility so that it can be fit to your crawl space area perfectly. The CrawlSeal™ Vapor Barrier polyethylene is also antimicrobial, so it also dually works to combat mold growth. Furthermore, its bright white color helps brighten even the most drab crawl spaces and can make it look more modern and clean.
With a properly encapsulated crawl space, homeowners are able to protect the structural integrity and the quality of living within their homes. Consider crawl space encapsulation to prevent crawl space mold and other related problems.
Crawl Space Drainage
Being able to drain any existing volumes of water from your crawl space is as important as preventing more water from entering. This is where crawl space drainage systems come in.
Fortunately, Foundation Repair of Western Colorado offers several drainage systems to choose from to aid water drainage from your crawl space. Combined with crawl space encapsulation with the CrawlSeal™ Vapor Barrier, your crawl space is guaranteed to remain dry and mold-free. The drainage systems available to homeowners for their crawl spaces are:
- CrawlSeal™ Drainage Matting
- CrawlDrain™ Crawl Space Drainage System
The CrawlSeal™ Drainage Matting helps to drain away any water that floods at the bottom of your crawl space. Once the Drainage Matting is installed, it is able to effectively redirect any water that collects in your crawl space floor to your perimeter drain systems or your sump pump systems. Foundation Repair of Western Colorado also offers a CrawlSeal™ Drainage Matting XL that is made specifically for crawl spaces that experience frequent flooding or have particularly rugged terrain.
The CrawlDrain™ Crawl Space Drainage System is another option designed to keep your crawl space dry and prevent the growth of mold. It is equipped with drainage holes at the top to drain water from the surface and at the front to drain water that collects within the soil. That way, it can effectively remove large volumes of water at once and ensure your crawl space remains dry. It also contains a special filter that prevents the drain from being clogged by debris and dirt to increase its longevity.
Seek Out the Experts For Crawl Space Mold Problems
Crawl space mold, or any mold for that matter, can be unsightly, unpleasant, and a health hazard. Unfortunately, the water and soil conditions in Grand Junction, Colorado, do not make crawl space mold easy to avoid. Contact us, your local experts, to schedule a free inspection to see how you can prevent mold in your crawl space once and for all. Our appointments also include a written estimate for the cost of remediation, so you are better informed of which route you would like to take.