In most areas, the climate can get quite humid during the summer months. The relative humidity can average 80% during some months.
As the humidity rises, you’ve probably felt the air get muggy. While that’s to be expected, especially during the summer, it can be a different story if you’re noticing a change in the quality of your indoor air.
Does your home, especially your first floor, feel damp or humid? Does the air smell earthy or musty? Have you noticed an increase in allergy symptoms? If your home has a crawlspace—this may be the source of your musty home problems!
Why Would My Crawlspace Make My Home Musty?
Whether it’s that humid summer air flowing into your crawlspace, or groundwater seeping out of the soil during a heavy rainstorm, the presence of moisture and water in your crawlspace can cause a variety of problem scenarios to happen. That musty smell in your home is just a byproduct—but of what?
Damp Crawlspace Equals Mold
Mold loves moisture. This is why you’re likely to find mold growing on soggy, rotten logs and dead plant matter. It’s a key part of the natural cycle that returns rotting matter back to the soil.
Unfortunately, there are mold spores virtually everywhere we go. That also includes your crawlspace.
When moisture builds up and lingers around your crawlspace, it can start to soak into the wooden structures of the crawlspace. That same moisture can also cause mold spores on any wood to become active. With moisture to keep it alive and damp wood for a food source, the mold can begin to grow and colonize. In the process, the mold will start releasing new spores as part of its reproduction cycle.
Not only do these new spores help create new mold colonies in your crawlspace, but those mold spores may also make their way to your living spaces above. As mold grows more in the crawlspace, and mold spores begin to saturate the air in your home, that musty smell will also start to become noticeable.
But what’s making those mold spores reach your living spaces?
Enter the Stack Effect
As warmer air rises in your home, it creates a difference in pressure that causes the house to suck in air from the outside into the lower parts of your home. As the air moves upwards in the house, the air in your crawlspace is going to be pulled into your home’s living spaces. That also means anything in your crawlspace air is being sucked up with it, including mold spores and that musty odor you’ve been smelling.
Up to 50% of the air you breath in your home comes from your crawlspace, according to the EPA.
How to Keep the Mold Away
While there is no way to prevent mold spores from entering your home, there is fortunately a way to keep most mold spores from growing and spreading! As mentioned earlier, mold loves moisture. But without that moisture, the mold spores either won’t be able to start growing or will remain dormant.
Removing the mold is always a smart idea even if you plan to remove the moisture. This is because some molds can survive at lower moisture levels. Even with the methods to remove the moisture noted below, removing any present mold is prudent.
Now that we know that your crawlspace can be a source of that moisture, the question is: How do we keep the moisture out?
That’s where crawlspace encapsulation enters the scene. Essentially, crawlspace encapsulation involves sealing your crawlspace away from outside air and intrusive moisture. A thick vapor barrier liner is used to encapsulate the crawlspace, from the floors and walls to even the support columns. That way your crawlspace is kept separated from that outside moisture and it can even be made into useable space.
Here are some of the products that might be used in crawlspace encapsulation.
- Vapor barrier liner
- Vent covers or blocks
- Wall insulation vapor barrier
- A crawlspace dehumidifier
If your crawlspace tends to flood or form puddles during a heavy rainstorm, it’s likely that your crawlspace will also require crawlspace waterproofing. This will involve the installation of drainage channels, a sump pump, and possibly other measures depending on your crawlspace’s situation.
Getting Help from the Right Crawlspace Expert
Your crawlspace is just as much a part of your home as any other part. What’s more, the condition of your crawlspace can have an impact on the comfortability of your home. So, it makes sense that you’d want to have your crawlspace encapsulated and/or waterproofed by a reliable expert.
While there are a lot of crawlspace contractors out there, not all are made equal. You’ll want to do your research and make sure that the crawlspace contractor of your choice has at least the following…
- Many positive reviews
- A strong, long-lasting warranty
- Decades of experience (longevity also means their warranty is reliable)
- Licensed and Insured
By checking off these requirements, you’ll improve your chances of finding an excellent crawlspace company that can protect your crawlspace against moisture and help you breathe easy again without that musty mold! For one long-historied crawlspace expert that has these four qualities, consider calling ’58 Foundations & Waterproofing for a free estimate for crawlspace encapsulation and crawlspace waterproofing solutions!
If you live near any of our offices (greater Knoxville, Chattanooga, or the Tri Cities; greater Atlanta; the Winston-Salem – Greensboro area; the Spartanburg – Greenville area; greater Richmond; Washington DC; greater Baltimore; Wilmington DE; Philadelphia and central PA) call us today for mold removal or crawlspace encapsulation services!