Whether mold invades your home or wood rot happens due to moisture buildup, it’s important for you to know the difference and how they affect your home’s health. Here, we look at both and show you to spot the differences between wood rot and mold.
What’s the Difference?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows on a wood’s surface and discolors it over time. The discoloration is usually white or black.
Mold is unhealthy, but it won’t break down wood or damage it like rot or decay fungi does. Its presence is a clear sign of an existing moisture problem that needs urgent attention. Mold usually grows when the relative humidity in the crawl space goes above 50 percent.
Wood rot is exactly what its name suggests—the decay of wood due to fungus. If the wooden supports, beams, or joists in the crawl space are decaying, that’s a clear indication of wood rot. Sometimes the signs aren’t visible. Try pressing your fingers into the wood. If it feels soft to the touch or crumbles, wood rot is below the surface.
Wood rot is mostly behind wood decomposition and crumbling. Decay fungi will darken your wood and cause it to shrink, leading to serious structural damage to the beams and joists.
Wood that’s being attacked by decay fungus will appear spongy or soggy.
Wood, oxygen, moisture, and warmth must be present for rot to occur. Since wood is hygroscopic, it tends to absorb water vapor and the moisture that condenses on it. The same water also encourages mold growth and fungi that can weaken the wood that supports your subfloor structure.
If you walk around the house, do floors feel like they bounce down then back up? It’s likely that wood rot has eaten away the inside of your wooden floor joists. A musty smell inside the crawl space is another sign that fungus is attacking your wood and causing it to rot. Damage due to wood rot usually appears as small squares or rectangles. Most people tend to mistake it for termite damage due to its appearance.
Crawl Space Mold
Musty smells are usually a telltale sign that mold has taken over your crawl space. You’re also likely to find white patches or clusters of what appears to be powder or dirt on your girders, joists, posts, and corners. Itchy eyes and a stuffy nose are indications of crawl space mold. White mold, black mold, and yellow mold are three common mold species that could invade the crawl space. If you notice mold spores in your crawl space, contact a mold removal expert to do an inspection. Once the mold remediation team clears the area of mold, we can come in and waterproof the crawl space, so moisture and mold won’t trouble you again.
Preventing Mold and Wood Rot
The key to curbing wood rot and discouraging mold is eliminating crawl space moisture that originates from the damp earth, groundwater, flooding, or existing indoor humidity. Such moisture creates moist or damp conditions that allow mold to thrive and wood decay to take place. Begin by checking and removing standing water that pools on the floor after a rainstorm.
Some people apply waterproof paint on the crawl space wood to prevent wood rot fungus from attacking the wood. However, this is just a temporary fix. What you need to do is close off existing crawl space vents and cover your floors and walls with a seamless plastic vapor barrier before drying out the air using a self-draining dehumidifier. Don’t forget to insulate the perimeter foundation walls.
Foundation Recovery Systems can help you waterproof your crawl space to prevent moisture buildup that can lead to mold growth and wood damage. We use industry-approved solutions that are designed to last. To get started, request a free crawl space waterproofing inspection and quote today.