How Mold Affects Your Crawl Space and Home
Mold can be a scary term, but once you learn more about what causes it -- and what you can do about it -- you'll soon feel confident in your ability to prevent it. Generally, mold is found in places with two things: darkness and humidity.
While mold can certainly grow in well-lit areas, crawl spaces are a favorite for all types of mold due to the natural warmth provided by the ground and the shelter the home above it provides. So, what causes mold to grow there and, better yet, how can you prevent it?
What Causes Mold Growth in Crawl Spaces?
If you didn't already know, mold spores are naturally occurring and they're all around us. The problems arise when the mold spores get oxygen in an area with relative humidity of 60% or more and temperatures of 40 degrees F or more. These conditions provide for the optimal area for mold to grow. To grow on wood, mold just needs the wood to have a moisture content of 20% or more.
Where Does Mold Find Moisture in a Crawl Space?
If you're like most homeowners, you probably avoid going into your crawl space at all costs. If that's the case, it may seem extra strange that there's moisture down there at all, but there are actually plenty of water sources for mold down in your crawl space.
Unfortunately, water often gets in through downspouts or grading that isn't designed properly. Groundwater flooding and plumbing leaks -- those undetected or old -- could also bring up the humidity levels in the crawl space and give way to mold.
Crawl Space Venting and Mold
Surprisingly, one of the most common reasons for crawl space mold, and one of the most easily avoidable, is crawl space venting. These vents serve a purpose, but in the summer months, they let in air that's rich with humidity. This humid air then cools inside the dark crawl space, losing ability to hold some of its moisture, and that excess moisture then turns into condensation and coats surfaces with a thin layer of water.
Overtime, this water can saturate wood to the point where mold can start growing and wood rot can begin occurring. For many homeowners, though, professionals from various industries will tell them that crawl space venting is an absolute necessity. If you're stuck between the two points of view, ask yourself:
Do you think crawl space vents dry your house when it's damp, foggy, or rainy out?
Do you think a crawl space vent helps when your crawl space is damp and rotting?
Do you think crawl space vents benefit your home when there's cold air blowing in during the winter, impacting your water heater, hot water pipes, furnace, ducts, and so on?
Do you think a crawl space vent keeps out pests, like ants, mice, and termites?
The answers to these questions are obvious, but spending a few minutes thinking about them can really help you determine what the best course of action is for keeping your home healthy. If you want an opinion from the experts, reach out to us for advice on how to prevent mold in your crawl space.
The Author Adam Clark is the owner and operator of Shield Guard Home Inspections. Adam Clark is a local Home Inspector located in Saratoga NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections
Phone: (518) 720-7152