You’ve probably haven’t given much thought to what goes on in your crawl space. After all, it’s an area you rarely visit or explore during inspections. Don’t overlook this place. Your crawl space is susceptible to mold because it’s exposed and has the perfect conditions for mold growth. When you allow mold in the crawl space, it can lead to health problems and structural issues around the home.
Let’s look at types of mold, health issues associated with mold growth and what you can do to prevent mold from taking over your Kansas City, MO, crawl space.
What Types of Mold Can Enter the Crawl Space?
As long as your crawl space remains open, it’s going to attract various kinds of molds. Black mold should be your biggest worry as it’s dangerous. Not only does it release mycotoxins but it also eats and weakens wooden structures. Exposure to black mold also causes respiratory problems and worsens existing conditions such as asthma. Because of this, you could be in and out of the hospital for medication or treatment.
White mold is another type of mold that can invade the crawl space and cause problems. Though not as destructive, it can still trigger occasional allergies. Fungal growth and mushrooms are the clearest indication white mold is already in the crawl space.
The other type of mold you should worry about is yellow mold. It’s not so much of a problem health-wise as it is structure-wise. When this mold takes over the crawl space, it can lead to rapid decay and destruction of wooden beams and joists. So pay attention to it as well during your routine checks.
Signs of Crawl Space Mold
A number of signs should alert you to the possibility of crawl space mold. Watch out for:
- Odd smells or musty odors originating from the crawl space
- Water stains and dark/green/pink spots on baseboards
- Discoloration of wood
- Clusters or patches of powdery or fluffy substances on posts, girders and floor joists
- Allergic reactions that cannot be explained
What are the health risks of mold exposure?
Mold exposure affects people differently. Some people won’t experience health problems, while others may develop allergies and breathing problems. Allergic reactions seem to be the most common health problems associated with mold. And the degree of severity may vary from person to person. Symptoms of a mold allergy include:
- Skin irritation/rash
- Watery/red eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
In some cases, mold spores can worsen existing health problems like asthma. Signs of intense reactions, which are rare, include difficulty breathing and fever. Individuals with weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease may also get serious lung infections.
How to Prevent Crawl Space Mold
One major mistake people make is to address the symptoms such as rotted wood, musty smells, and the powdery fungus instead of resolving the underlying problems. That’s not helpful as mold will continue growing as long as conditions that make it thrive persist. To prevent mold growth, consider doing the following:
- Install plastic encapsulation: Installing a crawl space vapor barrier below your home will protect it from rot, humidity and water damage.
- Fix leaking pipes: Such pipes introduce moisture into the crawl space, creating conditions that make mold thrive.
- Fix wall cracks: Again, this opens up the crawl space to moisture, which encourages mold to grow.
- Use sump pumps: Where flooding is a problem, you’ll have to get a sump pump to drain any water that enters the crawl space. Otherwise, it will encourage mold to grow.
- Replace rotted wood: Decaying floor joists and wooden structures such as beams feed the mold in the crawl space.
- Dehumidification: Internal moisture is a major contributor to mold growth. Installing a self-draining dehumidifier in this space will help bring down moisture to acceptable levels.
- Seal crawl space vents: In the past, people thought venting would help aerate their homes, but it’s been proven it’s not beneficial. The sooner you seal it, the better.
- Use mold-resistant building materials: You can stop a potential mold growth by using materials that discourage mold growth.
- Replace ineffective insulation: Remove any damaged, torn or sagging insulation because it will absorb moisture and perpetuate your mold problem.
- Landscaping: Grade the area surrounding your home so water flows away from your foundation and crawl space.
If the conditions don’t change, mold will re-grow in 24-48 hours. You have to act fast to stop it from re-infesting your crawl space. Given that mold poses health risks to you and your loved ones and continues to devalue your home, the best thing you can do is to deal with it promptly. Schedule an inspection with a crawl space expert and get a free crawl space repair quote in Kansas City, MO. We’re happy to recommend lasting solutions to deal with underlying issues that cause mold growth in your home.