By their very nature crawl spaces tend to be cramped and with limited access. They tend to only exist in basements, subfloors, and other hard-to-reach places. A crawlspace is the sort of functional space that is very easy to ignore, right up until it the moment when you need to actually use it.
Crawlspaces also tend to have limited ventilation, and some have soil floors, which often contributes to the buildup of high humidity and warmth, which is a prime breeding ground for mold colonies. Since it rarely gets seen, this also means that a mold problem in your home or office’s crawlspace can grow severe before it ever gets noticed.
What Causes Mold In Crawl Spaces?
Mold spores exist everywhere in nature. As members of the fungi family, these microscopically invisible spores float freely in the air around us. When they make it into your home or place of business and they find a porous surface surrounded by modest moisture and sufficient warmth, those spores can germinate into an active mold colony. Once this happens the microscopic roots of an established mold colony can be very hard to eliminate with consumer-grade cleaning products.
Left unchecked mold can even damage wood, drywall, and other structural materials in a building. As time goes on, this can affect floor stringers, the underlayment of floors and even lead to serious health problems for the people breathing in the surrounding air.
Signs Of Mold In A Crawlspace
If you have a crawlspace in your home, office, or commercial property, that you are concerned about, the following signs are indicative of an unaddressed mold problem.
A Noticeable Musty Odor
High mold spores and mycotoxins in the air tend to have a musty or “Earthy” odor. They can build up inside a crawlspace to high densities without being noticed. That is right up until you open the door or hatch to the crawlspace and your nose is assaulted by the odor. In some cases, and for some people this odor can be so powerful that it causes respiratory distress.
Odors When The HVAC System Turns On
A severe mold problem that has been allowed to fester unchecked in your crawlspace can easily start to migrate into the adjacent ductwork. Especially if you have an older home or building, or your central air conditioning system is overtaxed. Then when the blower fan turns on it blows those same mold spores and mycotoxins into the building’s main air supply. These odors can alter the air and cause respiratory distress.
Colored Splotches & Visible Signs Of Rot In The Crawlspace
Sometimes a severe mold problem in a crawlspace can cause discolored patches to form on woodwork and drywall. This is even more likely to be an issue if the crawlspace was flooded with water in the past or you have a problem with plumbing leaks. An active mold colony in a crawlspace can look like blotches of black gray, green, white, brown, or orange. They often feel slimy to the touch and can potentially be dangerous.
Headaches & Respiratory Problems
Many homes and buildings with mold problems in the crawlspace will have higher spore counts and mycotoxins in the air. This can cause people living or working there to cough, sneeze or experience frequent headaches as well as signs similar to a sinus infection. Individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions and those who have chronic respiratory health conditions can be particularly vulnerable to symptomatic distress in the presence of mold-infested air.
Some people who are sensitive to mold spores and mycotoxins who aren’t aware of the problem might notice their symptoms cease when they go on vacation. Then when they return home or back to work where the presence of mold spores is strong their symptoms return again in short order.
What To Do If You Suspect A Mold Problem In Your Crawl Space
While some minor mold problems can be easy to clean up on your own, most mold problems in a crawl space tend to be severe. Especially if they have gone unchecked for months at a time. Attempting to clean up a major mold infestation in a crawlspace can also be more dangerous than it seems.
The Dangers Of Trying To Deal With Crawl Space Mold Yourself
Without proper training and professional equipment, you could accidentally disturb the colony, causing it to release a plethora of new spores into the air. In a scenario like this, you might find the mold problem in the crawlspace goes away, only to have a new, vigorous mold colony appear somewhere else. Not to mention the health hazards to yourself and other vulnerable individuals posed by excess spores and mycotoxins in the air. Especially if the type of mold infesting your crawlspace is Stachybotrys chartarum, or “Toxic Black Mold.”
Calling In The Professionals
Mold remediation specialists like those at Building Services Inc. Have the tools, experience, and training to identify the sources of mold in your home or place of business. Then we can implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate the mold problem safely and effectively. All while disposing of affected materials per all environmental regulations.
After total mold remediation is complete, and all affected materials have been disposed of we can help you understand things you can do to prevent mold problems from recurring.
Tips For Preventing Future Mold Problems In Your Crawlspace & Elsewhere
There are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of mold developing in your crawlspace or other vulnerable areas. This starts with being conscious of humidity and moisture. Even something as simple as damaged gutters or a minor plumbing leak can provide microscopic mold spores with the moisture they need to germinate into a major problem.
Make All Necessary Repairs
Cracks in a foundation, sections of gutter that have pulled loose from the roofline, and any plumbing leaks need to be addressed to prevent water and moisture from building up in the crawlspace.
Update Or Maintain Your HVAC System
An air conditioning system that is out of date, poorly maintained, or underpowered for cooling the building during times of high heat and humidity can also leave ambient high humidity and condensation for mold to exploit.
Strategically Place A Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier is a very handy thing for keeping the ambient humidity low. Placing one in your crawlspace during the peak months of summer can go a long way toward robbing mold of the humidity and moisture it needs to germinate from a spore to an active colony.