Did you know that up to 60 percent of the air you breathe inside your home comes from the crawlspace and basement? I recall one client whose interior walls were so wet, water was seeping down them. Upon inspection, we found mold everywhere, even in the attic.
Additional investigation of the outside foundation walls, living areas and attic indicated mold problems. We realized the problem originated in the crawlspace. Scary as the situation was, though, it was easily resolved with a moisture control program. Using the correct materials is key to keeping mold from occurring and/or recurring. Take the following steps to prevent mold from growing.
1. Remove all debris, including wood products and stored articles.
2. Level the ground and install a sump pump as needed. Look for areas where water may accumulate or has drained previously.
3. Check to see if water is appearing through or under the foundation walls. If water is present, you may need to waterproof outside.
4. Treat all surfaces, including the subfloor and foundation walls, with an oxygen-based cleaner. This will clean the surface mold as well as the deeply embedded roots inside any porous materials. Scrubbing might be necessary. Rinse as needed and let dry.
5. The understructure should be treated with a borate.
6. Apply a 100 percent ground cover using 10-mil (or stronger) polyethylene, and seal all vents. Cover the foundation walls and piers, too. Seal all seams on the ground cover, piers, walls, around vents and foundation walls because they’re entry points.
7. Install an industrial dehumidifier of sufficient size for the space, with a sump pump to remove condensing water to the outside in a drain system designed to remove water from the foundation.
1. Because attics also can contribute to the moisture control in a structure, consider adequate ventilation, insulation and heat.
2. Follow steps 1, 3 and 4 for the aforementioned basements/crawlspaces as needed. For best results, add cellulose insulation as required for your area of the country, and install reflective insulation to the underside of the roof decking between the rafters.
Outside the home
1. Make soil grade changes as needed in low areas — a half-inch grade per foot away from the structure for at least 10 ft. out.
2. Install gutters with covers and downspouts to direct water away from outside walls.
3. In some cases, it might be necessary to install French drains (also known as weeping tile) to redirect water away from the perimeter walls. Consider waterproofing these walls.
Moisture control and mold remediation are important issues. Mold might be a nuisance to some, but deadly to others. Because termite professionals inspect the areas where moisture and mold originate, they have an opportunity to offer their customers a solution to these problems.
You can reach Paul Hardy, a PMP Hall of Famer (Class of 2005), at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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