Eliminating Mold in a Crawl Space
LESLIE: Well, some ETs phone home but this ET phoned The Money Pit from Tennessee. And what can we do for you?
ET: My daughter has got some mold under her house. They had a outside faucet that actually, I think, exploded in the winter and then they didn’t realize it. So it eventually soaked under the house pretty good and it’s just a crawl space so it’s dirt, you know?
E.T.: And I was wondering what the best way … I was thinking about crawling under there with bleach, you know, with like a … I’ve got a yard sprayer where you can set so many teaspoons per gallon and that kind of thing.
E.T.: And I just wondered if that would be a solution to that problem.
TOM: Well, a pest (ph) management professional can spray something down there called Tibor – T-i-b-o-r – that’s often used to combat mold growths that have attached themselves to the wood framing in crawlspaces. Or you could use a bleach solution. But you have to be very careful because, you know, you’re going to have a lot of mold spores in the air and you start blowing that stuff around, E.T., you might find yourself breathing some of it; which couldn’t be … wouldn’t be very pleasant.
The good news about any type of moisture or mold growth or decay or rot – which is what you’re really guarding against, here, with all that lumber – is that when you take the moisture source away, it stops growing. You’re only going to get decay when the moisture source in the lumber gets above 25 percent. So as long as that broken hose bib has been fixed, then you’re probably OK; as long as you keep that moisture down.
Do you know that there’s a decay problem down there right now? Do you see something?
E.T.: No. No, I don’t think there’s a decay problem. I was concerned with the mold and it’s strictly conjecture at this point because I haven’t really crawled up in there and looked. But …
TOM: Alright, well then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Just get it fixed. Take all of the normal steps to control moisture in a crawlspace: make sure you have a vapor barrier down, make sure your drainage is set right at the foundation perimeter, make sure that the downspouts are clean and extended out away from the wall. I wouldn’t go down there and start messing with bleach or any type of chemicals unless I knew I had a problem.ontrol
But by the way, when you get down there – when you do get down there – give you a home inspector’s trick of the trade. Take a screwdriver – a pretty long screwdriver; straight screwdriver – and poke and prod the floor joists right above the damp area and check them for decay. Because they could look perfect from the outside. But I’ve had situations where I’ve stuck a screwdriver right through them and almost lost my balance.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You could go right through it.
TOM: Yeah, and if that’s the case, then you have to repair them; usually by sistering them with a good floor joist right next to the bad one. OK?
E.T.: OK. Well, listen, I appreciate it so much. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, E.T. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Do you think he grew up with a lot of jokes about E.T. phone home?
LESLIE: (laughing) Probably.
TOM: Poor guy. (laughing)
LESLIE: Or his kids gave it to him real bad.
TOM: Alright. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Do you have a home improvement question? Pick up the phone and dial in right now. 888-666-3974.