Tips to Keep Your Crawl Space Mold-Free

Many homes have crawl space type foundations instead of basement or slab foundations. Some of the advantages of crawl space foundations are that crawl spaces protect the home from moisture and termites by keeping the home off of the ground, crawl spaces are typically less expensive to build than basement foundations, and crawl spaces allow easy access to duct work and plumbing systems.

1. Insulation Matters

Wet insulation in a crawl space is a huge red flag. Wet insulation, usually cellulose or fiberglass, is a breeding ground for mold and often means that moisture is in direct contact with your home’s structure.  Any wet insulation will need to be removed and your home’s joints will need to be thoroughly cleaned before they can be re-insulated.  Before you can even think about reinsulating, you’ll need to figure out where the water came from.  Once your crawl space is protected from water and moisture, you can have it insulated it with ridged foam insulation or fiberglass batt, but never cellulose or fiberglass insulation, as these types of insulation provide food for mold.

2. Standing Water

There should never be standing water in your home’s crawl space.  If your home’s crawl space has standing water, you likely have a plumbing or drainage problem. Have a professional look at your property immediately to examine the problem and find a solution.  Often, the land is improperly sloped or lacks water management tools like gutters, drains, or downspouts.

3. Vapor Barriers Protect Against Ground Moisture

Even if your crawl space has no standing water, you can still have moisture problems.  Where does this moisture come from?  The ground.  Unless you live in an exceptionally dry area, the ground contains moisture, and moisture evaporates from the ground into your home’s crawl space. Vapor barriers can keep moisture from evaporating into your crawl space; these sheets are typically made of plastic. However, vapor barriers cannot protect against standing water, they are meant to control moisture in the air.

4. Vapor Transmission

Anyone with an attic knows that hot air rises.  But what is happening with the rest of the air in your home when hot air rises?  It is all part of what is known as the Chimney Effect.  Hot air rises and draws air below it upwards.  If your home has a crawl space, it draws air from the crawl space into your home.  If you crawl space is damp, musty, and moldy, all of that unpleasant and unhealthy air is being drawn into your home.  Fully encapsulating the crawlspace can seal it off from the rest of your home.

A properly built and maintained crawl space is very functional.  Crawl spaces should be dry and ventilated and prevent excess moisture from coming into contact with your home’s structure.  Moist crawl spaces lead to mold problems. To keep your home’s crawl space safe and dry, control for standing water, water vapor, vapor transmission, and make sure your crawl space has proper insulation and ventilation.

Superior Cleaning & Coit Cleaning and Restoration in Woodinville, WA holds a Construction Contractor, General license (SUPERI 973KR).

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