Crawl Spaces

What is a “Crawlspace”, why do I have one, and why should I care?

A crawl space is a loose term used to describe any space in the home at ground level that the builder didn’t frame out or otherwise make a useful space out of. A typical crawl space is about 3 feet tall, is enclosed by foundation walls, and has a dirt floor. Crawlspaces come in all shapes and sizes. A house is built on a crawl space because it is convenient to the builder, and because it’s the least expensive foundation style option. This doesn’t mean your home is poorly built, sometimes the longest lasting, well-designed homes are placed over a crawlspace. Crawlspaces also feature great service access, utility space, and even storage if setup correctly. If you didn’t have a crawlspace, you’d have furnaces, ducts, water heaters, electrical wires, and plumbing in your garage or attic (or worse yet, cemented in place under a slab). Think of a crawl space as being a basement, just shorter.

So why the fuss?

According to latest studies, around 25% (up to 50% if your HVAC is located there) of the air in your home comes from the crawl space due to the Stack Effect. Every time you open a door or turn on the A/C, you just caused a pressure and temperature difference. The result is that air is always circulating the home. Most HVAC systems aren’t sealed properly, and commonly pull air from the crawl space into the home. This is why it’s important to do what homebuilders usually neglect: take care of the crawlspace. It’s as much a part of your home as any other room, and arguably more important because it’s the foundation your entire home is built upon. Since mold is a wood-destroying fungus, it is just as bad for your wood framing as termites or water damage. It can also cause significant health problems. 

How did I get so much mold in my crawlspace?

Mold in the crawl space is caused by excess humidity. Humidity is the measurement of water vapor in the air. Even if you have a seemingly dry crawl space and good ground coverage, you probably have mold somewhere. This is because of one critical building fault: foundation vents. Foundation vents are those rectangular shaped cutouts in the foundation wall. They represent very old science and cause your home to be at the mercy of the outside weather. An open air “vented” crawl space causes the air under the home to be whatever the air is outside – cold in the winter, and hot/humid in the summer. In addition to vents, you may have an inadequate plastic ground cover, water intrusion, HVAC condensation, and other problems. When we inspect for mold, we not only look for mold, we also look for ways to eliminate the causes so that it cannot grow back once cleaned. Head over to our Encapsulation (add link inside “Encapsulation”) page to learn more.

What are my treatment options?

Mold in crawlspaces will grow on any wood framing surface. This includes pressure treated wood, main beams, and subflooring. None of these affected areas can be removed and discarded, so we remediate them using Sodium Hypochlorite spray. This leaves wood mold free and clean. More information on treatment below.