In the south, spring is pollen season! This is the time of year when those majestic live oaks and colorful azaleas we all love turn against us and blanket the earth with a yellow snow, causing us to wince and sneeze. Luckily, for those of us with allergies, spring also brings lots of rain to wash it all away.
But those spring rains seed another assault on our living environment: mold! Through obvious holes and gaps in your foundation, and through less obvious small cracks in your foundation's masonry work, the spring rains can find their way into your crawl space. This water intrusion mainly happens in crawl spaces that are slightly below ground or "negative."
Water weighs over 62 pounds per cubic foot, and when your whole yard and even your whole neighborhood is filled to the brim with spring storm rain, that exerts a lot of pressure against you brick or concrete foundation. Contrary to what you might think, concrete and masonry are porous, and the mortar joints are even more so. Since water travels the path-of-least-resistance, this hydrostatic pressure will push the rain through any small hole or gap it can find.
Once its in your crawlspace, the water will seep into the ground as it can, based on the ground water saturation levels, but unlike out in your yard there is no direct sunlight to help burn off that excess moisture on the surface. This constant wetting without the natural drying component will allow the water to pool and fester.
Then, as outside temperatures start to rise, that pooling water evaporates up onto the insulation and wood framing of your home, giving it a steam bath. Warm, wet, organic material, like wood, is the perfect environment for mold to take hold.
Mold vs Wood Destroying Fungus
There is an important distinction I need to make between surface mold and wood destroying fungus. Most molds cannot cause enough damage to your wood framing to render a framing member structurally compromised. We call these surface molds. These molds and mildew can take up residence on the surface of the wood and even put some roots down into the material, but they mainly feed on organic matter in the air. We have cleaned mushroom patches off the bottom of subfloor systems and found the wood beneath to be as strong as the day it was installed.
Surface molds come in many different shapes and colors, from furry and orange, to white dust, to small purple polyps. The main threat they pose to our living environment is that they are a sure sign of a moisture problem. They can also pose a health risk to children, the elderly, or someone with a compromised immune system. If your wood moisture content remains under 20% you will likely never get surface molds in your crawl space, but if every summer the unchecked water intrusion in your crawl space evaporates onto your framing, it will eventually grow large colonies of mold.
One of the main reasons we treat mold growth problems in your crawlspace is to give us a baseline to determine if the moisture control systems we have put in place are working. If they are, no new mold should form. If we need to expand or adjust the system we will know easily by the return of surface molds. The rule of mold control is "no moisture, no mold."
Removing The Mold
Our two part mold cleaning system is the best method for removing the mold bodies, bleaching the stains they cause on the wood, disinfecting the surface, deodorizing musty smells, and preventing future mold growth. Most of the time, when we are finished, the wood under your home looks like it just came out the lumber yard.
Our competitors charge just as much, if not more, to do less work. They may spray a chemical to kill the mold, but it doesn't remove the mold bodies or bleach the staining so that it looks like nothing has changed; or they may kill the mold and remove the dead mold bodies, but not disinfect the wood to kill the roots of the fungus, causing the mold to quickly return; finally, they may even do a good job killing the mold and bleaching the wood but not deodorize or include a preventative treatment.
Our system goes all the way! Treating large crawlspace mold problems is usually not cheap, but you only want to pay for it once. We use the best system available to confidently mitigate your mold issues.
If you think you have a moisture or mold problem, give us a call to get a free crawlspace evaluation! We will tell you honestly if you have a minor issue that needs monitoring or a major problem that needs immediate attention. Our company fixes the toughest problems in the worst part of your home, and we are the best at it.
In our next topic discussion we are going to go into greater detail about the nature of wood destroying fungus. So keep posted!