At first glance, mold can seem like an aesthetic irritant in your home. Unfortunately, mold infestations in your crawl space are far more than that. If mold can take root in your home, it can compromise the health of your family as well as the value of your property.
The professional contractors serving Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, have a long history of working to prevent mold. If you think you have an infestation on your hands, you can turn to these experts for help.
Warning Signs of Mold
Mold doesn’t just show up with absolutely no warning. If you know the warning signs, you may be able to identify mold before it grows out of control. Here are some of the top warning signs of a mold infestation in your home.
High Levels of Humidity
High indoor humidity levels are a great indication that there’s something wrong in your home. After all, your home should be relatively dry. Infestations like mold, mildew, and wood rot can only thrive with high levels of humidity. If your home feels humid and muggy, it’s possible mold is present.
Mold has a fairly prominent and relatively specific smell to it. It’s the same smell you may associate with “musty basements”. As a matter of fact, this isn’t a normal basement smell — it’s probably the smell of mold. If you feel like your basement smells “musty” or “stale,” you might actually be smelling the telltale scent of mold.
This is especially important on the first floor, as basements and crawl spaces tend to be at highest risk for mold infestation. When you walk across your house on the first floor, do you notice that the floor seems to “sag” underneath your weight? If so, there’s a problem with your floor joists, whether that’s mold, wood rot, or just not enough support. Either way, you need an expert to help.
Unexplained Health Problems
Molds of all types tend to exacerbate any health conditions you might already be contending with. You’ll first notice problems with your respiratory system if a toxic mold has taken root in your home. Some of the most common early signs that you’ll want to look out for include:
- Sore throat
- Excessive sneezing
- Skin irritation
If you go to a doctor and still can’t understand why you might be experiencing these symptoms on a more regular basis than normal, be sure to reach out to the professionals in the Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, area for a home inspection.
Mold and the Health of Your Home
Mold may not be able to eat away at the structural supports in your crawl space, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a danger to the health and integrity of your home. This type of infestation can lower the overall value of your home by up to 30 percent. These infestations work their way into all porous surfaces in your crawl space, then in the rest of your home. They can ruin carpeting, drywall, insulation, and more, costing you a pretty penny in both repairs and replacements. If you don’t catch an infestation at its root, mold can even linger long after your removal, peeking its head back out again at the first sign of moisture in your crawl space.
Should you ever try to sell a home that’s been plagued by a mold infestation, you’ll need to disclose it to your potential buyers. Rumors of mold can drive several buyers away from your property. What’s more is that those parties who are interested in purchasing your home may request compensation if you haven’t fully removed the spores from your property. In short, leaving mold unattended in your crawl space has financial consequences, ones that often overshadow the costs of professional home repair.
Mold and Your Home: The Question of Moisture
How is moisture getting into your crawl space? If you’re dealing with humidity levels that are higher than normal or even standing water, then one of the following forces may be working against your property:
- Hydrostatic pressure – As moisture builds underground in the soil around your basement, it can exert powerful stress, or hydrostatic pressure, on the walls of your basement. That stress, in turn, can cause concrete materials to crack.
- Tree roots – Tree roots can move in beneath and around your crawl space as they’re seeking nutrients. As they move, these roots can force hollows to open beneath your crawl space. Your crawl space can then sink into those hollows and fall out of alignment. If your crawl space is out of alignment, then you’ll find yourself dealing with the aforementioned hydrostatic pressure as well as regular leaks, all of which can better allow mold to grow in your home.
- Pests – There are a few different kinds of pests that can wreak havoc around your property. Mammals like groundhogs and rabbits, for example, can cause hollows to open beneath your home. Squirrels and other rodents can eat away at your insulation and cause the humidity levels in your home to rise. Even insects like carpenter ants and termites can damage your wooden supports to the point where your crawl space may start to leak.
Mold does not enter your home with humidity. Instead, its spores ride in on air currents. If the conditions in your home are damp and dark enough to suit mold’s needs, then it can take root within 48 hours of arriving on the premises.
Professionals will also need to inspect the rest of your crawl space for signs of a leak. Mold only flourishes when it has ready access to a significant amount of moisture. If you want to keep mold out of your home in the long term, you’re going to need to invest in the kind of crawl space repair that seals off any cracks or leaks that have cropped up over time.
Waterproofing Your Crawl Space
One of the best ways to keep mold out of your home is to waterproof your crawl space. Not only is your crawl space especially sensitive to moisture, but it has significant sway over the health of your entire home.
Some of the best crawl space waterproofing measures include but are not limited to:
- Interior drainage system
- Sump pump
- Crawl space encapsulation with a vapor barrier
You always have the option to stack your home waterproofing measures. Reach out to the contractors serving Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, to discuss which of the waterproofing measures may work in tandem with one another.
Crawl Space Mold
If you’re concerned about the cost of working with the professionals in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, you may be all about the DIY life. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no safe way to remove mold from your property if you’re not an experienced professional. Not only will a DIY removal put you in danger, but there’s a significant chance that you may fail to truly address the problems that are plaguing your home.
The Danger to Your Health
There are no molds that won’t have a negative impact on your health over time. Naturally, you’re going to want to remove any mold that you find in your crawl space as soon as possible to prevent or even lessen its impact. If you don’t take the appropriate safety measures when removing mold from your property, however, you can spread it to other parts of your home while also exposing yourself to an immediate health risk.
Any contractor you bring out to your property is going to put on gloves, eye protection, and a mask before removing mold from your crawl space. From there, they’re going to contain the mold that’s infested your home so as not to spread it to your other floors. While you may be able to do the same with practice and time, you don’t necessarily have time to develop those skills when you’re dealing with an active infestation.
The Danger to Your Home
If you’ve never removed mold from your home before—which you shouldn’t have—or conducted DIY crawl space repair, your first go at the process isn’t going to be perfect. In fact, you may make a plethora of mistakes that put the overall integrity of your home at risk. If, for example, you remove the mold that’s plagued your property, you may find that you have to replace your drywall as well. While replacing your drywall, you may accidentally leave behind gaps in your work that make it easier for moisture to get into. Even if you do manage to remove all of the mold spores from your property, you’ll be setting yourself up for additional water damage later down the line.
What’s more, mold isn’t the primary problem you have to contend with when repairing your home after an infestation. Mold, after all, can’t take root in your crawl space unless it has ready access to moisture. Not only do you have to remove mold from your property but you also have to identify and repair any damage that your crawl space has already taken on. Without experience to guide you, this process gets tricky. You can make several mistakes while installing DIY crawl space repairs and waterproofing measures, to the point where you may cover up the real damage you’re dealing with. In turn, you may walk away from your crawl space thinking that your problems are solved when they’re only going to get worse in the days to come.
Yes. Both crawl space and HVAC inspections will let you know what condition these units are in and what, if any, protections they’re in need of. Crawl space inspections can catch leaks and cracks before they evolve into something more concerning. This means that you can save money on repairs while also preventing the beginnings of mold growth.
A Cursory Inspection
What does a crawl space inspection involve? Most contractors break the process down into three stages. To start, professionals will inspect the quality of your crawl space’s entrance. Your entrance needs to be up to code and large enough that area professionals can enter without putting themselves in danger. If your entrance isn’t up to snuff, professionals will require you to repair or replace it.
Provided that professionals can safely get into your crawl space, they’ll move onto the second stage of the inspection process: the superficial inspection. If you’re dealing, for example, with a substantial mold infestation, then professionals should be able to identify such an infestation at this stage. Similarly, professionals use this part of the inspection process to identify standing water, visible leaks, gaps between your walls and floors, and more.
A More Substantial Inspection
If your crawl space passes the first two stages of a professional inspection, there’s likely not anything immediately wrong with your space. However, your inspection isn’t over. Professionals will move onto their third stage, the comprehensive inspection.
During this stage of a crawl space inspection, professionals will identify weak spots within your crawl space. These spots may indicate superficial damage or even structural decay that may put your home at risk in a few months or years. Professionals can recommend cursory repairs as well as home waterproofing measures at this point of an inspection, as both can help you maintain the quality of your property.
Mold tends to look a fair bit like another common crawl space invader, wood rot. There are some key differences between these invaders that can help you and area professionals determine which has settled into your home.
Wood rot is most commonly known as Serpula lacrymans, one fungus among many. Unlike mold, however, wood rot primarily shows up in this form when it invades your home. Wood rot spores will make their way into your home via your HVAC system, just as mold spores do, but they’re not going to immediately take root. Instead, spores will only grow when they land on wooden structures. Even then, the spores need warmth and moisture if they’re going to take root.
Just because wood rot is persnickety, however, doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem. After this fungus’s incubation period, wood rot can tear through your wooden supports at a rate that can rapidly compromise your home’s structural integrity. If you don’t catch wood rot early in its incubation period, you may need to replace a significant percentage of the wooden supports not just in your crawl space but throughout the rest of your home as well.
The term “mold” doesn’t refer to a single home invader. Instead, there are several different types of mold that can wreak havoc throughout your house. This genetic diversity sets a mold infestation apart from wood rot growth, but it’s not the only difference between the two invaders. Mold, luckily, doesn’t eat away at your property like wood rot does. It can, however, start growing just about anywhere. Mold spores can settle and begin growing in your drywall, carpeting, exposed furniture, and insulation. Its ability to grow in the most inconvenient of places can make it especially difficult to get rid of.
Furthermore, mold has a significant impact on residents’ health, where wood rot does not. All molds, regardless of genus, can cause your family to develop respiratory problems, even if your family has no history of such conditions. These conditions can range from mild coughing to difficulty breathing and asthma in adults and children.
Working With the Professionals in Your Area
Protecting your home from mold doesn’t have to be trial and error. The professionals at Ohio Basement Authority who serve Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, can step in to make easy work of your crawl space repair and protection. Reach out today to schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote.