Spring will be here before you know it, and with spring come the dreaded spring cleaning that many homeowners partake in. Many homeowners have crawl spaces, and this is usually the time that one opens up the door to the space to peek inside and make sure everything looks okay. What if you find a large mold infestation that is growing on the wooden floor joists underneath your home? It is time to call in the professionals, as this could be dangerous to take on yourself.
The first thing that you will want to understand is that there are a few different kinds of things that may look like mold – namely insect feces. Another thing that you will want to understand is that some mold on the wood that is holding up your house is normal and is to be expected, especially if your crawl space has an open design and has foundation vents that allow outdoor air into the space. Some mold underneath your house may be defined to the professionals as normal fungus that is associated with crawl spaces.
But if you are completely or reasonably sure that your floor system does have mold and you want to know if it needs to be addressed, you will want to leave the job to professionals or purchase some measurement tools and learn how to use them accordingly. An expert in the field will be able to assess the crawl space without bias, meaning that they don’t perform mold remediation and they do not sell any type of crawl space systems.
The best time of the year for an expert to check a crawl space is during the summer months, because at this time the crawl space will be moist and the mold will be active.
Here are some of the steps that are taken when one is examining a crawl space for a possible mold infestation:
First, you will want to make sure that you are wearing protective gear. From there you should crawl throughout the entire crawlspace and document any of the conditions and then photograph any areas that you believe may have mold.
You will then want to collect moisture measurements of the sub-floor and the joists, and especially near the plumbing systems near the foundation.
Check your vapor barriers for any gaps or tears that could allow the soil moisture to evaporate onto the floor system, and then measure the soil moisture if it looks as though it is damp. You will also want to take note of any musty odors. A crawl space should smell like soil, not must.
See if there is any debris lying around such as old pipes, insulation, or ductwork. If there is, it should be cleaned out.
Also it is important for the homeowner to understand the danger of storing any gasoline-powered yard tools under the house. If you do have any of these located in your crawl space, you should move them to a garage or other storage space.
Observe the level at which the air moves throughout the crawl space. Often, you may find a dead zone is near the center of a larger crawl space which is usually home to more than the typical amount of mold that is seen in crawl spaces.
From here comes the difficult part of the process: how do you know if the level of mold that is present in your crawl space is at a normal level and isn’t likely to harm your family that lives in the house?
This is why it is of the utmost importance to hire a certified professional that does air quality testing for a living. Someone who hasn’t inspected many basements might miss something important, or make a larger deal out of something that isn’t a very big deal at all. There are other things that come into play such as the tightness of the duct system underneath your house, the number of your family members who have been experiencing adverse health effects recently, and the air quality inside of your home. A professional will be able to address all of these concerns, or if they cannot, they will direct you to someone who can handle it for you.
One final thing about mold in the crawl space is that it isn’t always necessary to know the exact species or level of the infestation, but it would be very useful. Ask the professional that comes out to your location to explain how they sample and what they hope to find by doing so.
Mold can have many adverse health effects, including:
-Shortness of breath
-Trigger asthma attacks
-Skin, eye, or throat irritation
It can also cause more serious conditions as well, and that is why it is of the utmost importance to call in a professional if you suspect there is mold in your crawl space.