Monday, December 14th, 2015 by Jackie Jablecki
“There is always some mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years. Mold grows where there is moisture.” - Center for Disease Control
What is mold and why does it grow?
Mold can be found everywhere. “No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores.” (CDC website) There is a purpose for mold in nature, to break down and eat dead organic matter. Without mold in nature dead plant and animal matter would continue to build up over time. Mold needs certain things to continue to survive and thrive.
1. A Place to Grow
2. A Source of Moisture
3. A Food Source - Organic Material
In recent years, Mold has continued to become a hot topic for homeowners, and has been the subject of lawsuit because of the adverse effects mold can have on people’s health. The effects that mold has on our health can vary from person to person. Many experience cold-like symptoms, respiratory problems, nasal and sinus congestion, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing, and skin irritations. For those who already have asthma, mold spores could trigger an asthma attack. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with existing respiratory sensitivities are at higher risk for adverse health effects from mold. Some people are affected when exposed to very little mold while others may show no adverse health symptoms when exposed to mold in any amount.
Mold in your Crawl Space
Well it’s under and outside of my home, so I don’t need to worry about it right? Wrong! your home is not air tight from underneath. In our homes we have what is called the Stack Effect. This is where air from the bottom of your home, eventually makes its way to the top of your home and vice-versa in different seasons. Mold spores are so small you can’t see them without a microscope. They are so light they can float on the slightest draft. This is how mold enters your home.
Dirt crawl spaces have high humidity levels necessary for mold growth. Humidity levels from 50% to 90% are easily found in dirt crawl spaces that have never flooded.
Mold can grow on dirt, insulation, framing and even under your carpet on the first floor. Mold destroys organic materials as it feeds on them. Mold reproduces by producing millions of floating airborne spores, which some people are very sensitive to. Spores can be dormant for many years, waiting for the right conditions to grow. Some molds produce mycotoxins, such as black mold stachybotrys. Although scary and can cause some issues these molds are not deadly. The term 'toxic mold' is not accurate. A controversy began in the early 1990s after analysis of two infant deaths and multiple cases in children from the poor areas of Cleveland, Ohio due to pulmonary hemorrhage were initially linked to exposure to heavy amounts of stachybotrys. Subsequent and extensive reanalysis of the cases by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have failed to find any link between the deaths and the mold exposure.
The main concern caused by mold is the damage it can do to wood. Wood rots for one simple reason: It gets wet. It can happen to wood anywhere in your house—in structural timber, door trim, eaves, exterior trim —you name it. Damaged structural wood under your home can cause floors to sink and sag. After the moisture is delt with structural repairs to the home can be made to repair the wood rot.
What can you do?
Unfortunately this is not a weekend project clean up for a homeowner. Getting rid of mold and moisture in your crawl space is better left to the professionals. Don't panic there is a solution that will stop your crawl space from being a hospitable environment for mold. Mold will not grow when humidity levels are reduced below 50%. Encapsulating your crawl space will prevent added moisture from entering your crawl space. As well as, the addition of a dehumiderfier. These will help to prevent the mold form ever growing in your crawl space ever again.