WHY DOES MY CRAWLSPACE HAVE MOLD?
Crawl spaces are the ideal environment for toxic mold in NH to thrive.
Most crawl spaces are dark, dirty, and humid. Bugs like to live in these areas since the outside air in the summer (and in the winter if you neglect to close your vents) enters, which can get very humid.
Mold is a fungus that requires moisture, air, and a food source to grow and thrive.
Like plants, mold has cells. However, unlike a plant that has chlorophyll that can make its food through photosynthesis, mold can not feed without moisture.
Mold reproduces by releasing its spores, as it is mold’s survival mechanism.
In addition to moisture, mold also requires the right temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive and can do so up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The final ingredient mold needs to thrive is food: high cellulose materials such as paper and wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, dust, and dirt.
Now that you understand why mold grows in your crawl space read on to explain the top three reasons you have moisture in your crawl space and what you can do to fix it.
HOW TO MEASURE THE RELATIVE HUMIDITY OF YOUR CRAWLSPACE?
The easiest way to determine the relative humidity of your crawlspace is to use a hygrometer or a digital thermo-hygrometer with a remote sensor to track it.
If the relative humidity is greater than 50%, this could cause moisture issues that lead to mold.
Mold will begin to grow at 50% moisture and will thrive when it is greater than 70%.
The key to ensuring that your crawlspace does not become a source of mold is to figure out how to control the humidity.
These are some of the common causes of moisture.
#1 WATER ACCUMULATION
If your crawlspace has standing water, you probably have a drainage problem or a plumbing leak. It needs to get fixed immediately.
You do not want water to accumulate in your crawlspace because this will compound your potential mold problems. Also, as mold grows, it will impact the indoor air quality of your home and health.
#2 MOISTURE EVAPORATING FROM THE GROUND
When homes contain crawl spaces, most builders neglect to cover the field, so space gets covered with dirt.
Dirt has moisture, and as the moisture evaporates, it will increase the humidity in your crawl space.
Unfortunately, this is a common problem. The easiest solution to prevent moisture from evaporating is to cover it up with a vapor barrier during crawlspace encapsulation.
#3 OUTDOOR AIR COMING IN THROUGH CRAWLSPACE VENTS
The third reason your crawlspace could have moisture issues is through vents.
When you bring outdoor air into the crawlspace, the relative humidity can increase.
Cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, so the air that enters is now closer to its saturation point (referred to as the dew point).
There might be 60% relative humidity outside when there is a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but when that air enters the crawlspace and cools down to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the relative humidity jumps up to 95%.
In the past, we thought that crawlspaces needed ventilation. Now, however, we are learning that crawlspaces need to get treated almost as if they were living spaces. In other words, areas that are in contact with your living space affect your living space.
FIXING YOUR CRAWLSPACE HUMIDITY AND MOLD PROBLEMS
If your crawlspace has vents and the relative humidity is high, you need to fix the issues at hand. It is not as simple as installing a dehumidifier either.
If you have water accumulation, the source of the water must get located. If it is a plumbing issue, fix the leak. If drainage causes the problem, this must be adjusted as well.
If the problem relates to moisture evaporating from the ground or outdoor air coming into vents, crawl space encapsulation can be a solution.
If you are concerned about humidity in your crawl space or toxic mold in NH, call Purely Green Environmental at (888) 291-3773!
**All words, photos, and information courtesy of Indoor Environmental Professionals.**